Don’t Represent yourself… Hire an attorney who can and knows how to represent you pre-trial and during the trial….NOT after you loose and convicted !
State of New Jersey v. Robert A. Davies
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
On a August morning in 2007, defendant, Robert Davies insulted a man, Mario Chavez, in the men’s room of a bar in Margate. Defendant said, “this was not his country and he should leave.” Chavez complained to the management staff and defendant left the bar. Chavez and his friends were standing outside when they spotted defendant walking away. Chavez then came up from behind defendant and punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground. After defendant collected himself and stood back up he started to chase after Chavez. The two men were running and a random third man came out of nowhere who caught up to defendant and tapped him on the shoulder. The third man was identified to be Lavern Ritcher, he put his hands up and said, “I’m just trying to help.” Defendant then stabbed and killed Ritcher and proceeded to chase after Chavez until he gave up.
Defendant successfully pursued a motion to represent himself a year before trial. Defendant did with appointed standby counsel, from that time until just before the State concluded its case at trial.
Defendant then relinquished counsel duties because his dissatisfaction with his cross examination of one of the State’s witnesses. Defendant was convicted of second-degree reckless manslaughter, third-degree possession of a knife with the purpose of using it unlawfully against the person of another, which the judge instructed the jury was the unlawful purpose of killing Ritch, and fourth-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted person. The judge sentenced defendant to an extended term of twenty years, subject to the periods of parole ineligibility and supervision required by the No Early Release Act. After the conviction, defendant appealed alleging the trial court made multiple errors in instructing the jury. The Appellate Court concluded, “those instructions clearly conveyed the essential elements of every crime the State was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and all of the elements of self-defense implicated by the evidence that the State was required to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain the guilty verdicts the jury returned.”
Defendant followed this decision with filing a petition for PCR, alleging ineffective assistance of a standby counsel. He argued there was a failure to secure ancillary services of an expert in order to allow defendant to establish a diminish capacity defense, failure to call two material witnesses and failure to object to the prosecutor’s summation and to the jury charge. The Judge denied the petition in a thirty-three page opinion.
The defendant appeals the rejection of the PCR petition and raises the following issues:
THE PCR COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE DEFENDANT’S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF WITHOUT AFFORDING HIM AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING TO FULLY ADDRESS HIS CONTENTION THAT HE FAILED TO RECEIVE ADEQUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION AT THE TRIAL LEVEL.
A. Counsel was ineffective for failing to advocate for an expert and to advise defendant on the process involved.
B. Counsel was ineffective for failing to call two eyewitnesses.
C. Counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the court’s charge regarding the “failure to retreat” portion of the self defense charge’s failure to address the facts of this case.
D. Counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the prosecutor’s argument in summation that defendant was guilty of intending to kill Mario Chavez instead of Lavern Ritch.
E. Counsel was ineffective for failing to request the proper jury instructions and for failing to make a request to charge after the prosecutor’s summation.
The Appellate Court record convinces them that none of the arguments is of sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. The Court as well recognizes the thirty-three page opinion the judge wrote which considers all of defendant’s points.The Appellate Court affirmed the denial of defendant’s petition.