United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER DISMISSING PETITION (DOC. NO. 1) AND RESOLVING
PENDING MOTIONS (DOC. NOS. 2, 5)
Sorokin United States District Judge
Lazarre is presently incarcerated at Old Colony
Correctional Center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, having
been convicted in 2014 of two counts of aggravated rape of a
child and related charges. Doc. No. 1 at 1; Commonwealth
v. Lazarre, 79 N.E.3d 1111 (Mass. App. Ct. 2017)
(unpublished). On January 19, 2018, the Court received and
docketed the following submissions: 1) a partially completed
Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas
Corpus by a Person in State Custody, Doc. No. 1 (“the
habeas petition”); 2) an Application to Proceed Without
Prepayment of Fees, an accompanying Financial Affidavit, and
an Inmate Transaction Report, Doc. No. 2 (“the IFP
motion”); and 3) a Motion for Appointment of Counsel,
Doc. No. 5 (“the counsel motion”).
Court has reviewed the IFP motion and the supporting
documents. That motion (Doc. No. 2) is ALLOWED.
Court also has reviewed the habeas petition, as it is
required to do pursuant to the Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases in the United States District Courts. See Rule
4, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (requiring prompt examination
of habeas petitions and dismissal “[i]f it plainly
appears from the petition . . . that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief”). Those Rules require petitions to
contain certain information-information which is specifically
identified and requested by the standard form which Lazarre
used in this case. See Rule 2(c), 28 U.S.C. foll.
§ 2254. In particular, a federal habeas petition must:
“(1) specify all the grounds for relief available to
the petitioner; (2) state the facts supporting each ground;
[and] (3) state the relief requested.” Id.
petition does none of these things. The entire section of the
form in which petitioners are asked to “state every
ground on which you claim that you are being held in
violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States” along with the supporting facts, which
provides designated space for four separate “grounds,
” and which warns petitioners that failure “to
set forth all the grounds in this petition” may result
in claims being barred from future presentation, is left
blank in Lazarre's petition. Doc. No. 1 at 5-11. Nor has
Lazarre provided any insight into the substance of his claims
or the facts underlying them in the preceding sections which
ask petitioners to list the grounds raised in previous
appeals and proceedings before state courts. Id. at
2-4 (answering “I don't know” when asked to
list grounds raised on direct appeal, and leaving many
questions blank). Besides referring to “the false
accusation” of “rape of a child [and] aggravated
rape” in his identification of the crimes for which he
was convicted and sentenced, id. at 1, Lazarre
provides no substantive information about the underlying
proceedings, let alone the errors he wishes to have reviewed
by this Court. Lazarre also failed to answer the question at
the end of the form which asks petitioners to specify the
relief they seek. Id. at 15.
conclusion of the counsel motion-a separate filing-Lazarre
offers the following explanation for the near-total lack of
information presented in his petition, writing: “I did
not completed [sic] the application, because I speak Haitian
Creole. Please, I request a Haitian Creole Interpreter.
Thanks.” Doc. No. 5 at 2. The Court notes, however,
that despite the asserted language barrier, Lazarre did
manage to complete the IFP motion form, providing all
requested information, including a narrative response
regarding his last employment and contact information for
individuals who provide him support. Doc. No. 2.
Court has reviewed the available state-court rulings related
to Lazarre's direct appeal. On February 16, 2017, the
Massachusetts Appeals Court (“MAC”) affirmed
Lazarre's conviction and sentence in an unpublished
decision. Lazarre, 79 N.E.3d 1111. The decision
reflects that Lazarre raised three claims to the MAC, each of
which challenged the trial judge's exercise of discretion
in admitting specific testimony during Lazarre's trial.
Id. The MAC rejected each challenge on purely
state-law grounds, without reference to any federal law or
federal constitutional principles. See id. (finding
no error in admission of first-complaint evidence, testimony
by sexual assault nurse examiner, and expert testimony about
delayed disclosure of rape and absence of physical injury).
The Supreme Judicial Court denied review on April 27,
2017. Commonwealth v. Lazarre, 86
N.E.3d 243 (Mass. 2017) (table).
light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that
Lazarre's petition, as it presently stands, substantially
fails to comply with the rules governing federal habeas
proceedings, and likewise fails to advance any colorable
basis from which the Court could find that Lazarre may be
entitled to relief. As such, the habeas petition (Doc. No. 1)
is DISMISSED without prejudice to Lazarre refiling it in a
manner which complies with the above-cited rules (i.e., in a
manner which specifies violations of federal law he believes
entitle him to relief, describes facts supporting his federal
claims, and identifies the relief he seeks).
of the same deficiencies, the counsel motion is DENIED as
moot and because the interests of justice do not require
appointment of counsel (or an interpreter) in these
circumstances. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2), (e).
 Although this is how the
petitioner's name appears on the docket in this action,
in the state court decisions on direct review, and in some of
his submissions, in other submissions he reverses the order
of his names and writes “Lazarre Epiphane.” The
Court will refer to him throughout as Lazarre.
 It appears Lazarre did not seek
certioriari on direct review before the Supreme Court, nor
did he pursue any collateral challenges to his conviction in
state court. If that is correct, the one-year limitation
period for filing a federal habeas petition began ninety days
after the SJC's denial of review, i.e., on July 26, 2017,
and will expire on July 26, ...