United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JOSEPH C. HUGAL, Petitioner,
EDWARD DOLAN, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
Hugal (“Hugal” or “petitioner”) filed
a petition for writ of habeas corpus against Edward Dolan,
the Massachusetts Commissioner of Probation,
(“Dolan” or “respondent”), pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner, who is currently not in
state custody, claims that his sentence of lifetime probation
violates the state statutes of conviction and several of his
constitutional rights. Before this Court are petitioner's
motion for summary judgment and respondent's motion to
dismiss the habeas petition as time-barred.
March, 1999, Hugal pled guilty to a four-count indictment in
Norfolk Superior Court which charged him with assault with
intent to murder, assault and battery by means of a dangerous
weapon, assault by means of a dangerous weapon and mayhem.
That same day, the Superior Court sentenced him to seven to
nine years in state prison for the charge related to armed
assault with intent to murder and to lifetime probation with
respect to the other three charges. In June, 2004, petitioner
was released from state custody after receiving credits for
previous jail time and he commenced his term of lifetime
2006, petitioner's probation was transferred to Florida
at his request. In July, 2008, petitioner filed a motion to
modify the terms of his probation which was denied. In
September, 2009, he filed another motion to modify the terms
of his probation and in April, 2010, he filed a motion to
leave the United States. The court did not rule on either of
those motions. In June, 2011, petitioner filed motions to
terminate and modify his probation which were denied. In
November, 2014, he filed another motion to terminate his
probation which the Superior Court denied in March, 2015.
Thereafter, Hugal filed an appeal to the Massachusetts
Appeals Court which affirmed the order denying the motion to
modify or terminate probation in February, 2016. He then
filed an application for leave to obtain further appellate
review which was denied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
October, 2016, petitioner filed a motion to correct illegal
sentence. The Superior Court denied that motion in December,
2016. Hugal appealed and the Massachusetts Appeals Court
affirmed the denial of that motion in November, 2017. In
February, 2018, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
again denied petitioner's application for leave to obtain
further appellate review.
March, 2018, Hugal filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus
in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In that
petition, he alleges that his term of lifetime probation is
an illegal sentence because 1) none of the charges for which
he was convicted carry a life sentence and 2) it violates his
due process rights, his right to interstate travel and his
right to be free from double jeopardy. In May, 2018,
petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment. A few weeks
later, respondent filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that
petitioner's claim was time-barred because it was not
filed within the one-year statute of limitations under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
Motion to Dismiss
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). In considering the merits of a motion to dismiss, the
Court may look only to the facts alleged in the pleadings,
documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference
in the complaint and matters of which judicial notice can be
taken. Nollet v. Justices of Trial Court of Mass.,
83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208 (D. Mass. 2000), aff'd, 248 F.3d
1127 (1st Cir. 2000). Furthermore, the Court must accept all
factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Langadinos v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69
(1st Cir. 2000). Although a court must accept as true all of
the factual allegations contained in a complaint, that
doctrine is not applicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).
Section 2254 Habeas Petition
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court
may file an application for a writ of habeas corpus on the
grounds that “he is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States”.
§ 2254(a). The AEDPA provides that such a petition must
be brought within one year from the date on which the state
court judgment becomes final either “by the conclusion
of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking
such review”. § 2244(d)(1)(A).
Massachusetts law, the entry of a guilty plea is a final
judgment of conviction that begins the running of the
limitations period. See Turner v. Massachusetts,
Civil Action No. 12-12192-FDS, 2013 WL 3716861, at *2 (D.
Mass. July 11, 2013); Commonwealth v. Cabrera, 874
N.E.2d 654, 659 (Mass. 2007) (“A guilty plea, once
accepted, leads to a final judgment of conviction; like a
verdict of guilty, it is conclusive.”); see also
Bermudez v. Roden, Civil Action No. 14-10257-IT, 2016 WL
4007553, at *2 (D. Mass. July 26, 2016) (explaining that
“[i]n Massachusetts, a Rule 30(b) motion [for a new
trial] is the proper way to challenge a guilty plea . . .
[and] [i]n this District, a majority of courts have . . .
treated the motions as seeking collateral, rather than
direct, review” (collecting cases)).
properly filed application for state post-conviction or
collateral review tolls the limitations period, those motions
for post-conviction relief “cannot revive a time period
that has already expired”. Cordle v. Guarino,
428 F.3d 46, 48 n.4 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting Dunker v.
Bissonnette, 154 F.Supp.2d 95, 103 (D. Mass. 2001));
see also § 2244(d)(2). The one-year limitations
period, however, may also be tolled on equitable grounds.
Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010). The
petitioner bears the burden of establishing that he is
entitled to equitable tolling. Delaney v. Matesanz,
264 F.3d 7, 14 (1st Cir. 2001). The petitioner must establish
that 1) “he has been pursuing his rights
diligently” and 2) “some extraordinary
circumstances stood in his way and prevented timely
filing”. Holland, 560 U.S. at 650 ...