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Hrycenko, v. Medeiros

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 26, 2016

PETER HRYCENKO, SR., Petitioner,
v.
SEAN MEDEIROS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PETITIONER’S MOTION TO STAY AND ON RESPONDENT’S MOTION TO DISMISS

          F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge

         This is an action by a state prisoner, currently serving a sentence at MCI-Norfolk, seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 2254. Petitioner Peter Hrycenko, Sr., was convicted after a jury trial in Suffolk County Superior Court on a charge of intimidating a judge in violation of G.L. c. 268, § 13B. He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three to seven years. The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed his conviction and the Supreme Judicial Court denied his application for leave to obtain further appellate review.

         Hrycenko has filed a petition for habeas relief, asserting that his conviction and sentence are unlawful on the following grounds: (1) that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance at trial; (2) that the admission of the victim-judge’s interpretation of petitioner’s letter was irrelevant to prove intimidation and unduly prejudicial; and (3) that the sentencing judge had no authority to revise his sentence and inappropriately considered the possibility of parole. Hrycenko acknowledges that he has not exhausted Claim Two in his petition and that he is currently appealing Claim Three in the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Along with the petition for habeas relief, Hrycenko has moved for a stay and abeyance of proceedings while he resolves his unexhausted claims in state court. Respondent Sean Medeiros, superintendent of MCI-Norfolk, has moved to dismiss the petition for lack of exhaustion.

         For the following reasons, the motion to stay will be DENIED and respondent’s motion to dismiss the petition will be DENIED without prejudice.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         On December 20, 2007, Peter Hrycenko, Sr., appeared before Judge Kathleen Coffey in the Boston Municipal Court. (Pet. Ex. A at 3). He pleaded guilty to a charge of operating after suspension and received a two-year split sentence. (Id.). He was taken into custody and lodged at the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay. (Id.).

         While in custody, Hrycenko wrote a seven-page handwritten letter to Judge Coffey asking for a sentence reduction. (Id. at 4). In the letter, he referred to his familiarity with Judge Coffey’s residence and how he “ha[s] never retaliated against [her] or [her] property because it is not who [he is].” (Id.). Judge Coffey received the letter on December 27. She promptly informed the police. (Id.)

         Hrycenko was arrested and interviewed about the letter on December 28, 2007. (Id.). He was then indicted on charges of intimidating a judge.

         Hrycenko was tried in the Massachusetts Superior Court in August 2009. (Id. at 5). That proceeding ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. (Id.). On November 12, 2009, his former counsel withdrew, and he was appointed a new attorney, Matthew Campbell. (Id.).

         Attorney Campbell defended Hrycenko during the second trial. (Id. at 7). The jury convicted him on March 29, 2012. He was then sentenced to state prison for a term of three to seven years. (Id. at 2).

         B. Procedural Background

         After his conviction, Hrycenko filed a motion for new trial based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. (Pet. Ex. A 1). On April 7, 2014, that motion was denied. (Id. at 13). He also filed a motion to revise and revoke his sentence, which the trial judge did not act upon. (Pet. 4).

         Hrycenko appealed the denial of the motion for new trial to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. That appeal raised three claims: (1) the trial court erred in denying the motion for new trial because defense counsel at trial was ineffective when he failed to raise a defense of lack of criminal responsibility based on mental impairment; (2) the admission of Judge Coffey’s interpretation of the letter was irrelevant to prove intimidation and unduly prejudicial; and (3) the trial judge misunderstood his power to revise a sentence under Mass. R. Crim. P. 29(a) and improperly relied on the ...


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