On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 97-01-297.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 16, 2011
Before Judges Waugh and St. John.
Defendant Gregory M. Royal appeals from the denial of his second petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
Royal is serving a life term with a twenty-five-year period of parole ineligibility for first-degree robbery and other offenses. We upheld his convictions and sentence on direct appeal. State v. Gregory Royal, No. A-4640-98 (App. Div. Apr. 18, 2002), certif. denied, 174 N.J. 192 (2002). His first petition for PCR was denied on January 7, 2005. We affirmed the denial. State v. Royal, No. A-4488-04 (App. Div. Dec. 26, 2006), certif. denied, 190 N.J. 254 (2007). Royal's application for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on May 20, 2009.
Royal filed the present PCR petition on April 8, 2010. He alleges that his extended sentence was illegal, relying on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S. Ct. 2348, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2000) and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403 (2004).
Judge Edward J. McBride, Jr., dismissed the petition in a letter opinion dated September 24, 2010. He noted that our Supreme Court had modified sentencing procedures for extended terms to comply with Blakely in State v. Pierce, 188 N.J. 155, 162-63 (2006). However, the judge observed that those changes, like other changes responsive to Blakely, were accorded only "pipeline retroactivity," citing State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458, 492-95 (2005). The judge concluded that Royal was not entitled to "pipeline retroactivity," because he did not raise Apprendi in his direct appeal and Blakely was not decided until after the Supreme Court denied certification on Royal's direct appeal.
Royal raises the following argument on appeal:
POINT I: THE COURT ERRONEOUSLY DENIED THE MOTION TO CORRECT AN ILLEGAL SENTENCE After a careful review of the record and the applicable law, we find Royal's argument to be without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We affirm for the reasons set forth in Judge McBride's letter opinion.
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