United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
J. Casper United States District Judge
Robert Aldrich (“Aldrich”) brings this petition
seeking a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254 (“the Petition”). D. 1. Respondent Kelly
Ryan (“Ryan”), the Superintendent of MCI-Shirley,
moves to dismiss the Petition for failure to exhaust state
remedies. D. 20. For the reasons stated below, the Court
DENIES the motion to dismiss, D. 20.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the
Court must resolve whether the facts alleged “plausibly
narrate a claim for relief.” Schatz v. Republican
State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)
(citation omitted). To conduct this inquiry, the Court reads
the complaint “as a whole.”
García-Catalán v. United States, 734
F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). Next, the
Court must conduct a context-specific inquiry. Id.
This inquiry has two steps, where the first step requires the
Court to perform a close reading of the complaint to
distinguish the factual allegations from the conclusory legal
allegations contained therein. Id. The court must
accept factual allegations as true, but does not need to
grant conclusory legal conclusions credit. Id. In
the second step, the Court must determine whether the factual
allegations present a “reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the conduct alleged.” Haley
v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011)
(citation omitted). At bottom, the complaint must provide
sufficient factual allegations for the Court to find the
claim “plausible on its face.”
García-Catalán, 734 F.3d at 103.
February 7, 2008, a Middlesex County grand jury indicted
Aldrich on the following charges: (1) attempt to commit a
crime; (2) malicious destruction of property over $250; (3)
furnishing a false name to a law enforcement officer; (4) two
counts of larceny over $250; (5) resisting arrest; (6)
unarmed burglary; and (7) possession of burglarious tools. D.
20-1 at 1-3. On December 15, 2009, a jury in the Middlesex
Superior Court convicted Aldrich of attempt to commit a
crime, unarmed burglary and two counts of larceny over $250.
Aldrich v. MacEachern, 880 F.Supp.2d 271, 271 (D.
Mass. 2012). Aldrich was also convicted of being a habitual
offender as to unarmed burglary and larceny over $250.
MacEachern, 880 F.Supp.2d at 272. On December 17,
2009, the trial court vacated the habitual offender portion
of the attempt to commit a crime conviction and sentenced
Aldrich to twenty years on the unarmed burglary conviction
and five years on the two larceny convictions. Id.
Initial Post-Conviction Relief Sought
filed a notice of appeal on December 22, 2009, D. 20-1 at 20,
which was not docketed due to a delay in preparing trial
transcripts, MacEachern, 880 F.Supp.2d at 272.
Aldrich also filed a motion for post-conviction relief and
for an evidentiary hearing on February 4, 2010, followed by a
series of six motions requesting hearings on the
post-conviction relief motion. D. 20-1 at 20-21. On May 18,
2010, the trial judge denied the motion for post-conviction
relief. MacEachern, 880 F.Supp.2d at 272.
Aldrich’s State Habeas Petition
17, 2010, while still awaiting a decision from the trial
court on the February 4, 2010 motion, Aldrich filed a
petition to the Supreme Judicial Court for a writ of habeas
corpus and release from unlawful confinement. Id.
Aldrich argued that he was entitled to state habeas corpus
relief because the “trial court had not yet acted on
his motion for post-conviction relief.” Id. On
May 18, 2010, the day after Aldrich filed the state habeas
petition, the trial judge denied Aldrich’s initial
motion for post-conviction relief. D. 20-1 at 21. On June 14,
2010, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court denied
Aldrich’s state habeas petition as moot because the
trial judge had by that point acted upon Aldrich’s
claims. MacEachern, 880 F.Supp.2d at 272. Aldrich
appealed the single justice’s decision on July 15, 2010
and the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the single
justice’s decision on February 22, 2011. In re
Aldrich, 459 Mass. 1001, 1001-1002 (2011).
filed a second state habeas petition on June 10, 2013, which
a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court denied on
August 6, 2013. D. 20-7 at 2. Aldrich appealed and the
Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the single justice’s
decision on June 4, 2014. Aldrich, petitioner, 468
Mass. 1013 (2014).
Aldrich’s First Federal Habeas Petition
the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the single
justice’s denial of Aldrich’s first state habeas
corpus petition, Aldrich filed another series of motions in
the trial court. MacEachern, 880 F.Supp.2d at
272-273. On June 23, 2010, Aldrich filed another
“motion for a new trial with supporting affidavit and
exhibits and for reconsideration of his motion for post
conviction relief.” Id. The trial court denied
this motion on August 24, 2010. Id. On September 9,
2010, Aldrich filed a second motion with the trial court for
reconsideration of his motion for a new trial; the motion was
denied on September 21, 2010. Id. On September 17,
2010, the Supreme Judicial Court allowed Aldrich’s
motion to file a late notice of direct appeal. Id.
On September 28, 2010, Aldrich appealed the trial
court’s denial of his August 24, 2010 and September 21,
2010 motions. Id. On November 3, 2010, Aldrich
filed his third motion for a new trial, which the trial court
denied on April 11, 2012. Id.
filing this set of challenges in state court, Aldrich filed a
federal petition for writ of habeas corpus on April 21, 2011.
Id. The petition raised the following claims: (1) a
police officer’s threats violated Aldrich’s
rights to a full and fair trial and to testify on his own
behalf; (2) the trial judge violated Aldrich’s rights
to due process and equal protection by denying
Aldrich’s motion for a post-trial evidentiary hearing;
(3) the trial judge violated Aldrich’s rights by
denying a petition to transfer a state habeas corpus petition
from Middlesex to Suffolk Superior Court; and (4) the
state prosecutor obstructed justice by allegedly preparing
and filing a false affidavit on behalf of the police officer
who threatened Aldrich. Id. The district court
dismissed this first federal habeas petition on August 2,
2012 without prejudice because claims with the same substance
as those asserted in the petition were simultaneously pending
in state court. See id. at 275-276. The district
court explained that Aldrich had failed to exhaust the claims
in his federal habeas petition because “the Supreme
Judicial Court ha[d] not reached the merits of
Aldrich’s habeas corpus petition and ha[d] not inquired
into the alleged threats and intimidation by a police officer
before the trial which [were] alleged in Aldrich’s
federal habeas petition.” Id. at 276.
Aldrich’s Recent Petitions
Aldrich’s Application for Further Appellate Review,
FAR-23767 On September 17, 2010, a single justice of the
Supreme Judicial Court allowed Aldrich to file a notice of
late appeal. D. 20-1 at 23. On May 10, 2012, appeal No.
2012-P-0787 was docketed in the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
D. 20-4 at 2. In this appeal, Aldrich asserted that: (1) the
two larceny convictions were duplicative; (2) the conviction
of attempted larceny was duplicative of one of the larceny
convictions; (3) Aldrich’s conversation with a cellmate
should have been suppressed; (4) the trial judge abused his
discretion in denying Aldrich’s motion to continue; (5)
the evidence was insufficient to prove the
“breaking” element of the burglary crime; (6) the
trial judge erred in allowing the jury to convict Aldrich of
the lesser included offense of “breaking and entering
in the daytime with intent to commit a felony;” (7) the
trial judge erred in allowing the assistant district attorney
to act as an identification witness; (8) the trial judge
violated Aldrich’s right to confrontation in limiting
cross-examination; and (9) the trial judge abused his
discretion in denying Aldrich’s motion for a new trial
without an evidentiary hearing. See Commonwealth v.
Aldrich, 88 Mass.App.Ct. 1102 (2015).
August 26, 2015, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled upon
this appeal. Commonwealth v. Aldrich, 88
Mass.App.Ct. 113, 119-120 (2015). The court vacated
Aldrich’s conviction for attempted larceny and affirmed
his remaining convictions. Id. Thereafter, Aldrich
filed an application for further appellate review, FAR-23767.
D. 20-8 at 2. Aldrich raised the following arguments: (1) the
evidence was not “constitutionally sufficient to
establish” that Aldrich broke into the house; (2)
Aldrich’s convictions for stealing the same money twice
violated his due process rights and the prohibition against
double jeopardy; (3) the trial judge erred in permitting the
assistant district attorney to testify as the sole
identification witness at the habitual offender trial; and
(4) Aldrich’s constitutional right to confront the
witnesses against him was violated because the judge sharply
limited cross-examination. Commonwealth v. Aldrich,
No. FAR-23767, 1, 13 (Mass. filed Sept. 15, 2015). This
application is currently stayed. Commonwealth v.
Aldrich, No. FAR-23767, D. 11 (Mass. filed Sept. 15,
Aldrich’s Application for Further Appellate ...