NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 5, 2013
On appeal from New Jersey State Parole Board.
Christopher Merz, appellant pro se.
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent New Jersey State Parole Board (Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Christopher C. Josephson, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Haas.
In these two consolidated appeals, appellant Christopher Merz appeals the April 27, 2011 final decision of the State Parole Board to revoke his parole and impose a twelve-month future eligibility term (FET). He also appeals the Board's January 25, 2012 decision denying his request for parole and imposing a twenty-seven month FET. We affirm.
The essential facts of this case are as follows. On October 7, 1998, Merz was driving a pick-up truck, when he ran a stop sign and crashed into the driver's side of the victim's car. The victim, who was pregnant, subsequently died as the result of the injuries she received in the crash. Merz admitted drinking "five beers" prior to the accident. A passenger in the truck told police he and Merz "drank a lot" that day and that Merz had gone through five stop signs before he struck the victim's vehicle.
On September 29, 2000, Merz pled guilty to one count of aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5. The judge sentenced Merz to thirteen years in prison, with a mandatory eighty-five percent parole ineligibility period pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, and imposed a five-year period of parole supervision following the completion of his custodial sentence.
On October 23, 2009, Merz was released from custody and began serving his five-year period of mandatory parole supervision. As a special condition of parole, Merz was required "to refrain from the purchase, the possession and any use of alcohol."
Less than a year later, on August 11, 2010, Merz was arrested for driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol concentration was 0.18%. While at the police station, Merz admitted to his parole officer that he had consumed five or six beers that day.
On August 17, 2010, Merz was served with a notice of probable cause hearing, which advised him the Board was going to consider revoking his parole because he had violated the special condition by consuming alcohol. The hearing was held on November 12, 2010. Merz was represented by counsel and he elected to waive the probable cause hearing. The matter then proceeded as a final parole revocation hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer found by clear and convincing evidence that Merz had violated his parole by consuming alcohol and that his parole should be revoked.
On December 1, 2010, a two-member Board panel reviewed the record and concurred with the hearing officer's determination. The panel revoked Merz's parole and imposed a twelve-month FET. Merz filed an administrative appeal of this decision and, ...