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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Defendant pleaded guilty to the murder of her six-year-old son. She received a thirty-year sentence with a thirty-year MPI. She alleges her attorney was ineffective by failing to diligently pursue a diminished capacity defense and failing to adequately consult with her before urging her to plead guilty. We reverse the trial court's denial of PCR and remand for an evidentiary hearing. 

We direct the court to separately apply the four-factor test governing plea withdrawal motions under State v. Slater, 198 N.J. 145 (2009), and the two-prong test governing PCR petitions under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S. Ct. 2052, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674 (1984). We compare and contrast the two standards. Both apply to defendant's application for relief. Although the standards sometimes overlap, they do not always lead to the same results. We instruct the trial court not to conflate the two. We also conclude that the court mistakenly set too high a threshold for satisfying the "colorable claim of innocence" factor under Slater.  04/24/14