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State v. Valderrama

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


January 22, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PAUL VALDERRAMA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Municipal Appeal No. 009-16-08.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: January 6, 2010

Before Judges Cuff and Payne.

Defendant Paul Valderrama appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief which sought to vacate his October 21, 2003 guilty plea to his second conviction for driving while intoxicated.

In support of his petition, defendant asserted that the attorney who represented him in 2003, when he pled guilty to his second drunk driving charge, did not inform him at the time that he would lose his driver's license for two years. Defendant also alleged that his attorney improperly stipulated to his breath alcohol content of 0.19 and that he provided an inadequate factual basis to support his plea. Defendant asserts that these deficiencies support his claim that retained counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel.*fn1

The municipal court judge denied relief. On de novo review in the Law Division, Judge Lipton also found that defendant provided no basis for relief and dismissed the petition. The judge noted that defendant did not express "shock, dismay, or even mild surprise" when his driver's license was suspended for two years at the time of sentencing, nor did he appeal. Moreover, the judge noted that the transcript of the plea clearly demonstrated that defendant had been informed of the penalties and readily admitted he operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Judge Lipton found that the requisites for a plea to driving while intoxicated contrary to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 had been satisfied. Therefore, Judge Lipton held that defendant failed to establish either prong of the Strickland/Fritz*fn2 standard. Finally, the judge found that the petition was not supported by "even a suggestion of . . . innocence." Accordingly, a motion to withdraw his plea would not satisfy the factors recently outlined in State v. Slater, 198 N.J. 145, 157-58 (2009).

On appeal, defendant raises the following argument:

POINT I. THE PLEA WAS NOT KNOWING, VOLUNTARY, OR SUPPORTED BY AN ADEQUATE FACTUAL BASIS.

Having thoroughly reviewed the record, we discern no basis to disturb the February 11, 2009 order. We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Lipton in her February 11, 2009 oral opinion.

Affirmed.


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