On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 98-10-4025.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 14, 2012
Before Judges Reisner and Harris.
Defendant Jose Quintana appeals from the December 2, 2011 order denying his application for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
In June 2002, Quintana was convicted by a jury of the following charges stemming from events that occurred in June 1998: first-degree aggravated sexual assault upon a fifteen-year-old victim by vaginal penetration while armed with a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(4) (count one); first-degree aggravated sexual assault upon a fifteen-year-old victim by fellatio while armed with a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(4) (count two); first-degree aggravated sexual assault upon a fifteen-year-old victim by vaginal penetration during a kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(3) (count three); first-degree aggravated sexual assault upon a fifteen-year-old victim by fellatio during a kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(3) (count four); first-degree kidnapping to facilitate commission of a crime of aggravated sexual assault and without releasing the victim unharmed, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b)(1) (count five); third-degree endangering the welfare of child under the age of sixteen, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) (count six); fourth-degree unlawful possession of a knife, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) (count seven); third-degree possession of a knife with intent to use against a person, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d) (count eight); second-degree aggravated assault by causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count nine); third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(2) (count ten); and third-degree making a terroristic threat, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a) (count eleven). The jury also made specific findings that defendant had committed "crimes of violence" of aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and that the victim was younger than sixteen.
After merger, Quintana was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of a life term plus ten years (subject to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2) with twenty-five years of parole ineligibility.
Quintana appealed the judgment of conviction and we affirmed. State v. Quintana, No. A-1024-03 (App. Div. July 26, 2006). The Supreme Court denied further review. State v. Quintana, 188 N.J. 493 (2006).
In his pro se PCR petition, Quintana alleged that he was victimized by prosecutorial misconduct, judicial misconduct, and suffered the ineffective assistance of counsel by his trial, appellate, and PCR attorneys. His September 2008 certification in support of PCR further stated, "Last but not least . . . Police fabrication is a point for consideration since any physical contact between defendant and constable was one-sided." Additionally, Quintana submitted a certification from his mother, which averred that her son suffered from serious mental health issues and never received any mental health treatment prior to his incarceration.*fn1
The PCR judge was also the trial judge. He conducted a hearing (but not an evidentiary hearing) in November 2009, and issued an order denying PCR on December 17, 2009. One year to the day later, we remanded the matter and required "the PCR judge [to] provide counsel and the Appellate Division Clerk with his findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting denial of [Quintana's] PCR petition."
The PCR judge rendered a written opinion in April 2011, explaining why he rejected all of Quintana's claims for PCR. However, the judge identified one issue -- raised for the first time at the post-remand oral argument and not briefed by the parties -- that eluded determination: "whether [Quintana] was advised by his trial counsel as to the sentencing exposure he faced if convicted." The judge reserved decision on that issue and permitted supplemental briefing. On December 2, 2011, an evidentiary hearing was conducted where Quintana and his trial attorney were the only witnesses.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the PCR judge again denied relief. In so doing, the judge identified that the purpose of the evidentiary hearing was to collect evidence on Quintana's claim that trial counsel (1) misadvised him that the maximum sentence -- if he were found guilty at trial -- would be fifteen years and (2) failed to ...