Huenefeld v. Maloney

Decision Date29 July 1999
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 98-10445-RGS.
Citation62 F.Supp.2d 211
PartiesKurt L. HUENEFELD, Petitioner, v. Michael MALONEY, Commissioner, Dept. of Correction, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts

Kurt L. Huenefeld, Bridgewater, MA, pro se.

William J. Meade, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Bureau, Boston, MA, for defendant.


STEARNS, District Judge.

Upon review of the Magistrate Judge's thorough Report and the petitioner's Objections, I will adopt her Recommendation that the petition for writ of habeas corpus be DENIED. I agree with the Magistrate Judge's finding that the prosecutor's "[o]ne tells you why" statement constituted an improper comment on the petitioner's decision not to testify (Ground 8) but that in the totality of the trial the error was not of such magnitude as to cast doubt on the integrity of the verdict.



ALEXANDER, United States Magistrate Judge.

I. Background

On September 24, 1983, petitioner, Kurt Huenefeld, ("petitioner") was convicted of second degree murder and of burglary and armed assault in a dwelling house after a six day jury trial in the Massachusetts Superior Court. He was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment on the murder charge, and ten to twelve years on the other charges. His convictions were affirmed by an order of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. See Commonwealth v. Huenefeld, 19 Mass.App.Ct. 1109, 475 N.E.2d 439, fur. app. rev. den., 394 Mass. 1104, 478 N.E.2d 1274 (1985). Petitioner made a subsequent motion for a new trial that was denied by the trial judge on February 3, 1992. Petitioner appealed from that denial, and the denial was affirmed by the Massachusetts Appeals Court. See Commonwealth v. Huenefeld, 34 Mass.App.Ct. 315, 610 N.E.2d 341, fur. app. rev. den., 415 Mass. 1103, 614 N.E.2d 999 (1993).

On March 21, 1995, petitioner filed his first application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This Court dismissed the application on the grounds that petitioner had failed to exhaust state remedies for all of his claims. See Huenefeld v. Dubois, No. 95-10673-RGS, slip op. at 3-4 (D.Mass. Mar. 1, 1996). Petitioner then filed a second motion for a new trial that was denied by the Massachusetts Superior Court on April 18, 1997. The denial of petitioner's second motion for a new trial was affirmed by the Massachusetts Appeals Court on November 20, 1997. See Commonwealth v. Huenefeld, 44 Mass. App.Ct. 1101, 687 N.E.2d 651, fur. app. rev. den., 426 Mass. 1108, 691 N.E.2d 581 (1998).

On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed this second application for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent has moved to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it is time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), and that the petitioner has failed to exhaust his state remedies as to claims 1, 2, 4, 7, 9, and 11. For the reasons set forth below, this Court denies petitioner's application.

II. Facts

On the evening of October 25, 1982, petitioner and his friend John Nazzaro ("Nazzaro") set out for a night of drinking. On the way to the pub, petitioner and Nazzaro stopped at the home of Robert Crowe ("Crowe") to obtain cocaine. Petitioner injected cocaine while at Crowe's home.

On the way home, shortly after midnight, petitioner and Nazzaro again stopped by Crowe's home. This time, Nazzaro waited in the car for approximately fifteen minutes. When petitioner returned to the car, he told Nazzaro he had used more cocaine. The two then returned to petitioner's parents' home, and went to a basement room where Nazzaro went to sleep.

At 2:30 a.m., petitioner woke Nazzaro and relayed to him a frenzied confession: while Nazzaro slept, petitioner had returned to Crowe's home to steal cocaine and when Crowe awoke in the middle of the burglary, petitioner stabbed him several times with a screwdriver, fled through Crowe's bedroom window, and returned home. Nazzaro and petitioner then created an alibi to shield themselves from accusations.

Crowe's body was discovered by his father on the 26th, and Crowe's sister told police that petitioner did enter the Crowe home at about 12:30 a.m. while Nazzaro waited out in the car. She reported that some time before 2:30 a.m., she was awakened and heard her brother exclaim, "[w]hat the hell are you doing?"

When questioned together, Nazzaro and petitioner stuck to their alibi through the next day, but by the 27th of October when Nazzaro, accompanied by his father and a lawyer, met with police alone, he agreed to tell them truthfully what had commenced on the night of the 25th. Police then obtained a warrant to search petitioner's home, and seized evidence that was later used at trial. Upon examination of Crowe's body, the Commonwealth's expert pathologist offered the opinion that the injuries inflicted were consistent with those that would be caused by an attacker wielding a screwdriver.

III. Petitioner's Application Is Not Time-Barred

On April 24, 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death penalty Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104-132, § 104, 110 Stat. 1218 ("AEDPA"), was signed into law by president Clinton. Where a prisoner's conviction became final prior to the enactment of the AEDPA, the prisoner has one year from the effective date of the AEDPA to file his application. See Connors v. Matesanz, No. 98-12002-WGY, 1999 WL 98531, slip op. at 8 n. 6 (D.Mass. February 24, 1999) (accepting the reasoning of other courts that created a one year grace period for filing); Alves v. Matesans, 20 F.Supp.2d 135, 136 (D.Mass.1998) (applying a one year grace period and allowing petitioners until April 25, 1997 to file the petition); Zuluaga v. United States, 971 F.Supp. 616, 619 (D.Mass.1997) (same); Healy v. DiPaolo, 981 F.Supp. 705, 706-7 (D.Mass.1997); see also Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336-37, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 2068, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997) (holding that the chapter 153 amendments to the federal habeas statute were meant to apply only to cases filed after the AEDPA was enacted).

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) contains a tolling provision for tolling the statute of limitations for filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.1 Respondent argues that the tolling provision set forth in the statute does not apply to the judge made grace period created for petitioner's whose convictions became final before the passage of the AEDPA. (Respondent's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss at 5.) Respondent urges this Court to adopt a very narrow construction of the statutory language that would limit the application of the tolling provision to the period of limitation set forth specifically under the 2244(d)(2) subsection.

Courts have wrestled with the question of whether or not the tolling provision should apply to the judge made grace period, and some have determined that it does not. See Cole v. Kuhlmann, 5 F.Supp.2d 212, 213-14 (S.D.N.Y.1998); Powell v. Williams, 981 F.Supp. 1409, 1413-14 (D.N.M.1997). The majority of courts in this district and elsewhere, however, has held that the tolling provisions do apply to the judge made grace period. See Gendron v. United States, 154 F.3d 672, 675 & n. 3 (7th Cir.1998) cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 119 S.Ct. 1758, 143 L.Ed.2d 790 (1999); Hoggro v. Boone, 150 F.3d 1223, 1226 (10th Cir.1998); Lovasz v. Vaughn, 134 F.3d 146, 149 (3d Cir.1998); Fields v. Johnson, 159 F.3d 914, 916 (5th Cir.1998) (per curiam); Connors, 1999 WL 98531, slip op. at 10 n. 7 (J. Young); Healy, 981 F.Supp. at 706-7.

Courts have expressed concern that the language of the tolling provision which requires only that the application be "properly filed" could be interpreted in a manner that would allow a petitioner to file an unending stream of post-conviction motions with the state courts to avail themselves of the tolling mechanism and repeated extensions of the limitation period. See Connors, 1999 WL 98531, slip op. at 10-11. Concerns for comity, however, mitigate against the involvement of the federal court in an evaluation of the substance of a prisoner's filings for state post-conviction relief. See id. at 12 n. 8. This Court agrees with Judge Young that to be "properly filed" within the meaning of the statute, the petition must be submitted in compliance with the state's procedural requirements for successive collateral attacks on a conviction, e.g. timeliness and filing in the proper place. See id. at 13.

In light of the foregoing, this Court finds the reasoning of the district court in Healy and Connors, supra, to be persuasive, and finds that the tolling provisions of § 2244(d)(2) do apply to the judge made grace period, and have tolled the grace period in the case sub judice.2 Petitioner's application is not, therefore, time-barred. This Court further finds that petitioner's application was properly filed.

IV. Standard of Review

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2), "[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available in the courts of the State." It is not, therefore, necessary to address the second argument Respondent raises, namely that Grounds 1, 2, 4, 7, 9, and 11 of the petitioner's application are unexhausted. See also Gagne v. Fair, 835 F.2d 6, 9 (1st Cir.1987); Otsuki v. Dubois, 994 F.Supp. 47, 56 n. 11 (D.Mass.1998) ("28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2) allows this court to deny an application for a writ of habeas corpus on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust all available state remedies"). Based on the record, this Court finds that in this instance, strict adherence to the exhaustion principle would very likely result in further unnecessary litigation in the state courts. See Otsuki, ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • Bowling v. Parker
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Kentucky
    • March 29, 2001
    ...of circumstantial evidence that the petitioner committed the crime. For a similar district court conclusion, see Huenefeld v. Maloney, 62 F.Supp.2d 211 (D.Mass.1999). The Court concludes that the state court disposition was not contrary to nor did it involve an unreasonable application of "......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT