On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 05-03-0252.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 4, 2010
Before Judges Skillman and Fuentes.
On March 4, 2005, defendant pled guilty pursuant to a plea bargain to a charge of aggravated sexual assault, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1). The victim of the sexual assault to which defendant pled guilty was his stepdaughter, who was under the age of thirteen at the time of the offense. The trial court sentenced defendant in accordance with the plea bargain to a twelve-year term of imprisonment. Defendant was also ordered to register under Megan's Law and to be subject to community supervision for life upon his release from incarceration. Defendant did not file a direct appeal from his conviction and sentence.
On April 23, 2007, defendant filed a petition for post- conviction relief and supporting affidavit. Defendant claimed that he had not received effective assistance of counsel; that he had not been provided with a Spanish interpreter when he was questioned by the police, during plea negotiations or at the plea hearing; and that he had been coerced into pleading guilty.
Defendant's affidavit included an allegation that at the time of his plea and sentence he "was represented by a privately hired attorney, Terrence Scott [, who] also was representing my step- daughter, the alleged victim in my case, in an unrelated criminal matter where she was defendant." Defendant sought an evidentiary hearing in connection with his petition.
After hearing oral argument by defense counsel and the prosecutor, the court issued an oral opinion which denied defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing and his petition for post-conviction relief. The court's opinion did not refer to defendant's allegation that the attorney who represented him at the time of his plea also represented the victim in connection with criminal charges against her.
On appeal from the denial of his petition, defendant presents the following arguments:
THE PCR COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE PETITION; AND IN DENYING THE REQUESTED EVIDENTIARY HEARING.
DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE FROM PCR COUNSEL FOR FAILING TO RAISE THE ISSUES IN DEFENDANT'S PRO ...