State v. Charles Meekins, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-3696-08T4 (July 21, 2010) – Denial of PCR reversed in part, remanded for evidentiary hearing and resentencing.
“[D]efendant [argues] that his counsel failed to request a claim-of-right charge….. Here, defendant asserted that he stumbled upon the property laying on the ground when he was cutting through the victim’s property. He picked up the items and began walking away when he was attacked by the victim. These facts support defendant’s request for a claim-of-right charge on the theft offense. Defendant argues that he asked his counsel to request a claim-of-right charge but was refused. Such a charge would have alerted the jury that the State bore the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant did not act pursuant to a claim of right. The charge on credibility, standing alone, certainly did not inform the jury of this burden of proof. We are satisfied that the failure to request such a charge when the evidence supported it, and where the charge shifted the burden of proof to the State, establishes a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel. Further, the charge had a clear capacity to bring about a different result. As a consequence, defendant has made out a prima facie case under both prongs of Strickland. As defendant argues, an evidentiary hearing to explore why defense counsel did not request a claim-of-right charge is required on remand. At that time, defense counsel may explain why he did not request such a charge.”