On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Municipal Appeal No. 001-12-11.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes and Graves.
Defendant Mary Stickle appeals from the order of the Law Division denying her post-conviction relief (PCR) petition.
Defendant filed this petition seeking to vacate a 1996 conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. We affirm.
Given the passage of time, the record of this conviction is limited. However, the operative facts are undisputed. On January 29, 1996, defendant was charged by the Borough of Fair Lawn Police Department with DWI, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, careless driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97, and failing to display insurance coverage credentials, N.J.S.A. 39:3-29.
On April 16, 1996, defendant's father, Thomas Stickle, an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New York, sent a handwritten letter to the judge of the Fair Lawn Municipal Court indicating that his daughter*fn1 had "asked me to represent her in regard to the . . . tickets which she received on 1/29/96." Mr. Stickle wrote the letter on his attorney letterhead stationary, listing the location of his law office in Bronx, New York. In this capacity as defendant's attorney, Mr. Stickle further advised the municipal court that Mary very much wants to enter a plea of guilty which is retroactive to [February] 23, 1996 - the date she turned in her driver's license to the Court. She is presently in a very strict "rehab" facility . . . in Blairstown, NJ where she expects to remain for several more months until her recovery chance has been maximized.
It is our fervent hope that the three tickets could be merged into the D.W.I. charge and that your sentence could be made retroactive to either her date of admission to [the rehabilitation facility] or the date she sent in her license pursuant to the court's request.
Mr. Stickle appeared before the municipal court on defendant's behalf on September 18, 1996. Defendant was not present. The record of this proceeding indicates that the municipal prosecutor addressed the court first, informing the judge of Mr. Stickle's dual status as defendant's father and as "an attorney in New York." The prosecutor then referred to the "letter . . . from the defendant, who is [Mr. Stickle's] daughter, requesting that he be permitted to appear for her and enter a plea."
The following interaction then ensued between Mr. Stickle and the municipal court judge.
THE COURT: All right. Fine. Is he - -
MR. STICKLE: May I approach, your Honor?
MR. STICKLE: No. She's (indiscernible.)*fn2
At this point, the proceeding is taken off the record for an unknown period of time. The following occurred when the ...