NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 19, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment Nos. 04-08-1883; 05-01-231; 05-01-34.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Frank M. Gennaro, of counsel and on the brief).
Christopher J. Gramiccioni, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Mary R. Juliano, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel; Stephanie L. Dugan, Legal Assistant, on the brief).
Before Judges Ostrer and Carroll.
Defendant William C. Currier appeals from a January 5, 2012 Law Division order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR), without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.
Defendant and a juvenile co-defendant were charged in three separate indictments stemming from their participation in a series of burglaries and armed robberies that occurred in May 2004, during which defendant allegedly acted as the lookout. On February 7, 2005, defendant and the State entered into a plea agreement, pursuant to which defendant pled guilty to two counts of third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2 (Indictment No. 04-08-1883 – counts two and five); and three counts of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (Indictment No. 05-01-0034 – count one, and Indictment No. 05-01-231 – counts two and six). In return, the State agreed to dismiss all remaining counts of the indictments, and recommend an aggregate prison sentence of fifteen years, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2(a). Defendant was then sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement on May 6, 2005. On December 12, 2006, we affirmed defendant's sentence. State v. Currier, No. A-0829-05.
Defendant filed a pro se petition for PCR in April 2008. Counsel was appointed, and he filed an amended PCR petition and a supporting brief in March 2011. In his amended petition, defendant claimed that trial counsel was ineffective because he (1) had a conflict of interest, having previously represented one of the robbery victims, and failed to obtain a waiver of this conflict; (2) failed to adequately advise defendant as to potential defenses, specifically, intoxication and diminished capacity; (3) failed to adequately advise defendant as to potential motions, i.e., Miranda and suppression; and (4) failed to properly raise the issue of defendant's drug and alcohol dependence as additional mitigating factors at sentencing.
Following oral argument, Judge Ronald L. Reisner denied defendant's petition in a comprehensive twenty-page written opinion and order filed on January 5, 2012. The judge first determined that defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims were not procedurally barred. With respect to the conflict issue, the court ruled that this should have been raised on direct appeal, but in any event defendant could not establish prejudice. The court evaluated the likelihood of success had Miranda and suppression motions been filed, and concluded that they would have been unsuccessful and would not have changed the outcome of the case. The court further rejected defendant's argument that counsel's failure to raise his drug and alcohol issues as additional mitigating factors at sentencing constituted ineffective assistance. The court found no factual support for the contention that defendant would have received a lesser sentence had these arguments been made, and further noted trial counsel's zealous advocacy on behalf of defendant at sentencing. Finally, having found that defendant failed to make a prima facie showing of ineffective assistance, the PCR court concluded that no evidentiary hearing was required.
On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments for our consideration:
POINT ONE – DEFENDANT ESTABLISHED A PRIMA FACIE CLAIM FOR ...