On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 03-10-1328.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 28, 2008
Before Judges Collester and Grall.
This appeal is from an order denying a petition for post-conviction relief. Defendant William Pittman waived his right to a jury trial, and the trial court found him guilty of peering, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3c, and impersonating a police officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-8b. The judge sentenced defendant to two consecutive eighteen-month terms of incarceration. On direct appeal, defendant argued that his convictions were not supported by adequate evidence and that his sentence violated constitutional principles established in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 2531, 159 L.Ed. 2d 403 (2004), and State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). This court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentence on direct appeal, and the Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Pittman, No. A-2478-04 (App. Div. Mar. 9, 2006), certif. denied, 186 N.J. 604 (2006).
Defendant sought post-conviction relief on the ground that his trial counsel did not provide effective assistance and that his sentence violated the constitutional principles established in Blakely and Natale. Defendant's petition for post-conviction relief was denied by the judge who heard and considered the evidence presented at trial and imposed defendant's sentence.
On this appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred by not conducting an evidentiary hearing on his petition and again argues that his sentence violates the principles established in Blakely and Natale. We affirm substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Venezia in her oral opinion of November 16, 2006, which includes a full discussion of her reasons for concluding that defendant did not present a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel and for concluding that his sentence should not be disturbed. See State v. Preciose, 129 N.J. 451, 462-64 (1992) (discussing the elements of a prima facie case of ineffective assistance and noting that a hearing is required only if the facts a defendant asserts, viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, would entitle the defendant to relief). We simply add that our prior decision is conclusive on the question of defendant's entitlement to relief based on Blakely and Natale, which we addressed on the merits. R. 3:22-5.
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