NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 18, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 98—06-1190.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Michael C. Kazer, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
John L. Molinelli, Bergen County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Catherine A. Foddai, Senior Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Parrillo and Messano.
Defendant Royal Walters appeals from the April 12, 2011 denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. The procedural history involved requires some explication.
Defendant was charged in Bergen County Indictment No. S-1190-98 with third-degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7. On December 14, 1998, he entered a guilty plea pursuant to a plea agreement by which the State agreed to recommend a five-year term of imprisonment with a two-year period of parole ineligibility. Defendant was sentenced to a period of four years' imprisonment without any parole disqualifier on February 26, 2000.
His appeal was listed on the Excessive Sentence Oral Argument calendar, and, on February 5, 2002, we vacated the guilty plea, finding defendant's plea lacked a sufficient factual basis, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. See State v. Royal Walters, No. A-2023-00 (App. Div. Feb. 11, 2002).
On May 3, 2002, defendant was civilly committed to the Special Treatment Unit (STU) for sexual offenders pursuant to the Sexual Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38, based upon a prior conviction for "Sexual Assault, " for which he was sentenced in 1989. On May 20, 2002, defendant again entered a guilty plea to the indictment, the State agreeing to recommend a sentence of time served. Defendant was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement on the same day.
On September 24, 2002, defendant filed a pro se petition for PCR. In particular, defendant alleged that his commitment to the STU "violat[ed] . . . [his] plea agreement." He cited various constitutional grounds in support of the requested relief.
The Office of the Public Defender was assigned to represent defendant. However, on September 14, 2004, the Assistant Deputy Public Defender submitted a letter withdrawing the petition. She noted that defendant "ha[d] not maintained contact with [her] office." The Public Defender requested the petition be denied without prejudice "should [defendant] provide us with different and/or additional information in the future." On September 16, 2004, the trial judge entered an order dismissing the petition without prejudice.
In November 2009, defendant filed another PCR petition. He alleged again that his commitment to the STU violated the terms of his plea agreement, and he was "misinformed of [a] material element" during ...