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Hildreth v. City of Des Moines

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 21, 2016

HEATHER HILDRETH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF DES MOINES, IOWA, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Dennis J. Stovall, Judge.

         The plaintiff filed a writ of certiorari with the district court, claiming the city had acted illegally and unconstitutionally by declaring her dog to be vicious and dangerous. The district court annulled the writ, and the plaintiff appealed. AFFIRMED.

          Jaysen C. McCleary, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Jessica Dawn Spoden, Assistant City Attorney, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         This action originated after Heather Hildreth's dog was determined to be a "dangerous dog" by the City of Des Moines and impounded by the Animal Rescue League. Hildreth filed a writ of certiorari claiming the city had acted illegally and unconstitutionally by declaring the dog dangerous and vicious. On February 20, 2015, the district court rejected Hildreth's claims, annulling the writ and rescinding the previous stay of the order to euthanize. In this appeal, Hildreth challenges the merits of the certiorari proceedings.[1]

         I. Standard of Review.

         Rules applicable to appeals in ordinary actions govern our review of an appeal from a district court's judgment in a certiorari proceeding. Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.1412; see O'Malley v. Gundermann, 618 N.W.2d 286, 290 (Iowa 2000). "Our review is limited to correction of errors at law, and we are bound by the findings of the district court if supported by substantial evidence." O'Malley, 618 N.W.2d at 290.

         II. Error Preservation.

         On appeal, Hildreth raises numerous issues that were not decided by the district court in its ruling on the petition for writ of certiorari, namely, whether the three-day window to appeal the determination a dog is vicious is unduly burdensome; whether the taking of Hildreth's dog was a seizure of property in violation of the Fourth Amendment; whether an administrative hearing between a citizen and the city, heard by a city employee, involves a conflict of interest violating the citizen's right to due process; whether Hildreth had a Sixth Amendment right to counsel because a violation of the citations could result in thirty days' incarceration; whether the city ordinance defining "dangerous animals" is constitutionally defective because it fails to take into account if the animal was provoked when it acted in the prohibited manner; whether the city ordinance defining "dangerous animals" is unconstitutional due to being vague or overbroad; whether the city's euthanizing of the dog was done without a statutory provision; whether breed-specific ordinances are unconstitutional; whether interfering in the relationship between a pet owner and the pet is cruel and unusual, violating article 1, section 17 of the Iowa Constitution; whether discovery should be allowed prior to a city hearing; and whether sanctions were appropriate in this case for various named individuals.[2]

         Insofar as we can tell, none of the aforementioned claims are properly before this court for our review. See Lamasters v. State, 821 N.W.2d 856, 862 (Iowa 2012) ("It is a fundamental doctrine of appellate review that issues must ordinarily be both raised and decided by the district court before we will decide them on appeal." (citation omitted)). Moreover, Hildreth failed to include a proper statement[3] in her brief explaining how any of these arguments were preserved, which violates Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.903(2)(g)(1). Rule 6.903(2)(g)(1) provides:

The argument section shall be structured so that each issue raised on appeal is addressed in a separately numbered division. Each division shall include . . .: A statement addressing how the issue was preserved for appellate review, with references to the ...

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