United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JOHN J. BLODGETT, Petitioner,
ERIN GAFFNEY, Respondent.
ORDER DISMISSING PETITION (DOC. NO. 1) AND DENYING
MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL (DOC. NO. 27)
Sorokin United States District Judge.
Blodgett, a prisoner at Old Colony Correctional Institution
in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, has filed a pro se petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254. Blodgett filed his federal claims almost forty years
after the conviction and sentence he wishes to challenge
became final, and twenty years after the one-year limitation
period for filing a federal habeas petition expired. His
petition is DISMISSED as untimely, and his motion to appoint
counsel is DENIED.
27, 1977, after a jury trial in Suffolk Superior Court,
Blodgett was convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery,
kidnapping, and two related assault charges. Doc. No. 1 at 2;
Commonwealth v. Blodgett, 386 N.E.2d 1042, 1043
(Mass. 1979). The charges arose from the shooting, stabbing,
and beating of two college students hitchhiking back to their
dormitory in March 1975. Blodgett, 386 N.E.2d at
1043. One victim (miraculously) lived; the other died.
Id. The surviving victim identified Blodgett as the
driver of the car, and as one of four men involved in the
deadly assault. Id. The car used in the crime was
found burning later that night with a set of keys in the
ignition. Id. One key fit the door to Blodgett's
trial, Blodgett testified that he had stolen the car involved
in the crime sometime earlier, that he had driven it to a bar
in Boston on the night in question, that he had encountered
his alleged co-venturer (Robert Shaughnessy) at the bar, and
that he had discovered his car and his keys were missing when
he left the bar that night. Id. He said he later
learned the car had been involved in a crime, and so he fled.
Id. Blodgett was arrested two years later in Texas.
Id. Before Blodgett's arrest, Shaughnessy
committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial for the same
offenses. Doc. No. 10 at 5.
received a life sentence. Doc. No. 1 at 2. He filed a timely
appeal, R.P.D. at 6, and the Supreme Judicial Court
(“S.J.C.”) affirmed his conviction and sentence
on March 8, 1979, Blodgett, 386 N.E.2d at 1043.
Blodgett did not seek certiorari in the United States Supreme
Court. R.P.D. at 8, 71. In February 1982, Blodgett filed his
first motion for a new trial in state court, and in July
1982, before the first motion was resolved, he filed a second
post-conviction motion seeking “release from unlawful
restraint.” R.P.D. at 8. The Superior Court promptly
denied both motions. R.P.D. at 8-9, 75-82. Blodgett filed a
third post-conviction motion in state court in August 1985.
R.P.D. at 9. That motion was denied a year later, after a
hearing. R.P.D. at 10, 83-85. Blodgett's fourth
post-conviction motion, filed in May 1989 and then amended
after counsel was appointed, was denied in March 1990. R.P.D.
at 11, 86-88.
appears as though Blodgett's attempts to secure further
review in the SJC of the rulings rejecting his
post-conviction claims were unsuccessful. See R.P.D.
at 104-05 (reflecting Single Justice cases were opened in the
SJC and disposed of in 1983, 1986, and 1990). In October
1990, Blodgett sought federal habeas review in this Court,
but his petition was dismissed for failure to exhaust his
claims. See Memo. & Order, Blodgett v.
Ponte, No. 90-cv-12520-EFH, ECF No. 5 (D. Mass. 1990
Oct. 23, 1990) (reflecting in docket text that Judge
Harrington compared “the ten grounds raised” in
Blodgett's federal petition with “the three grounds
raised” before the SJC to conclude Blodgett had not
exhausted “most of the grounds raised here”).
state court dockets reflect no further filings between 1990
and 1999, when the paper dockets were converted to an
electronic docketing system. See R.P.D. at 11, 66,
71-72. According to Blodgett, he filed a “state habeas
corpus petition” in 1998, but the Superior Court
“denied [it] without prejudice (because it was the
w[ro]ng legal instrument).” Doc. No. 10 at
March 2010, December 2012, and February 2013, Blodgett filed
a series of motions seeking to correct the mittimus issued in
his case with respect to the concurrency of term-of-years
sentences imposed on certain non-homicide counts. R.P.D. at
66, 69, 89. Those motions were allowed on February 21, 2013.
R.P.D. at 67, 70.
next event reflected on the state court dockets is
Blodgett's filing of another motion for a new trial on
June 6, 2016. R.P.D. at 67, 70. The Superior Court denied
that motion on April 13, 2017. R.P.D. at 68, 90-91. The SJC
denied review on August 21, 2017, and denied reconsideration
on September 8, 2017. R.P.D. at 73-74, 106-09.
December 11, 2017, Blodgett signed the presently pending
federal habeas petition, which this Court received and
docketed on December 18, 2017. Doc. No. 1. In his pro se
petition, Blodgett raises two challenges to his conviction
and sentence: 1) a claim that prosecutors in his case
violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by
concealing information related to the surviving victim's
pretrial identification of his assailants and by suborning
perjury by the victim and a detective at trial; and 2) a
claim that Blodgett could not legally be convicted as a joint
venturer because his co-defendant had died before being
convicted in connection with the alleged joint venture. Doc.
No. 1 at 7, 9.
was granted additional time in which to submit a memorandum
of law and appendix in support of his federal claims. Doc.
Nos. 2, 8, 9, 11. Because it appeared likely based on an
initial screening that the petition was untimely, the Court
did not require the respondent to answer Blodgett's
claims; rather, the Court ordered the respondent to collect
and submit information from the state court dockets to
facilitate a complete assessment of the petition's
timeliness. Doc. No. 13. That information was submitted on
April 23, 2018. Doc. No. 25. On April 25, 2018, Blodgett
filed a motion seeking appointment of counsel and a
memorandum opposing dismissal on timeliness grounds. Doc.
Nos. 27, 28.
carefully reviewed all of Blodgett's submissions, as well
as the state court records provided by the respondent, the
Court concludes Blodgett's federal claims are hopelessly
untimely, and finds no justification for the appointment of
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) imposes a one-year period of limitation
on applications for writs of habeas corpus, and provides ...