STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff–Respondent, v. JAMES BLUE, Defendant–Appellant.
Defendant James Blue appeals from the February 3, 2012 Law Division order, which denied his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
On October 19, 2005, defendant pled guilty to three counts of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15–1, and one count of third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18–2, as charged in four separate indictments. In accordance with his plea agreement, Judge Louise DiRenzo Donaldson sentenced defendant on November 18, 2005 to an aggregate fifteen-year prison term, subject to the eighty-five percent parole ineligibility provisions of the No Early Release Act (“NERA”), N.J.S.A. 2C:43–7.2, with a five-year period of parole supervision upon release.
Defendant appealed his sentence. We heard the appeal on our Excessive Sentence Oral Argument calendar pursuant to Rule 2:9–11, and affirmed defendant's sentence on the three robbery convictions, without prejudice to defendant filing a petition for PCR concerning his plea attorney's alleged failure to raise certain mitigating factors to Judge Donaldson before sentencing. We remanded for resentencing on the burglary charge pursuant to State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). On remand, Judge Donaldson again sentenced defendant to five years in prison on the burglary charge.
On August 31, 2010, defendant filed a petition for PCR, alleging ineffective assistance of plea counsel. After assigning counsel to represent defendant in the prosecution of the petition, Judge Donaldson considered the arguments presented and denied the petition without conducting an evidentiary hearing. Judge Donaldson explained the reasons for her decision in a thorough oral decision.
Defendant now appeals from this decision and raises the following arguments:
THE ORDER DENYING POST–CONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE REVERSED AND THE MATTER REMANDED TO THE LAW DIVISION SINCE THE POST–CONVICTION COURT ERRED IN DENYING [DEFENDANT] A MEANINGFUL HEARING IN WHICH THE COURT SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED MITIGATING FACTORS.
A. [DEFENDANT] HAS ESTABLISHED A PRIMA FACIE CLAIM OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.
B. THE ORDER DENYING POST–CONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE REVERSED AND THE MATTER REMANDED TO THE LAW DIVISION FOR A MEANINGFUL EVIDENTIARY HEARING.
Defendant's arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11–3(e)(2). We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Donaldson as reflected in her well-reasoned oral opinion.