On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 02-03-0363.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Axelrad and Lisa.
On the day scheduled for trial, defendant pled guilty to first-degree armed robbery and other offenses, for which he is now serving a fifteen-year sentence with an eighty-five percent parole disqualifier and five years parole supervision pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The sentence, imposed on May 2, 2003, was entered pursuant to an negotiated guilty plea. Defendant did not file a direct appeal.
Defendant subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). Counsel was assigned and filed a supplemental brief in support of the petition. Defendant contended that the lack of continuity in assigned counsel resulted in his being denied the effective assistance of counsel. He further argued that his trial counsel's failure to pursue defendant's right to go to trial and present defenses constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. Finally, he argued that he should be allowed to retract his guilty plea because he was not properly advised of the consequences of the plea. After hearing oral argument on January 16, 2009, the judge, who had also accepted the guilty plea and imposed sentence, issued a written opinion and accompanying order on February 20, 2009, denying defendant's petition.
On appeal from that order, defendant argues:
POINT I THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED
REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT DENIED DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON HIS CLAIMS OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.
POINT II DEFENDANT WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS
RIGHT TO COUNSEL WHEN HIS POST-CONVICTION RELIEF ATTORNEY DID NOT ADEQUATELY REPRESENT HIM.
These arguments are patently lacking in merit and warrant only limited discussion in a written opinion. See R. 2:11-3(e)(2).
The offense circumstances were as follows. Defendant approached a gas station attendant wielding a hammer. He struck the attendant in the head with the hammer, fracturing his skull. He stole money and gasoline. The gas station attendant provided a partial license plate description matching defendant's, and positively identified defendant from a photograph. When defendant was questioned by the police, he gave a full confession to the crime.
Defendant was indicted for first-degree armed robbery, third-degree aggravated assault, third-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, fourth-degree unlawful possession of ...