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Long v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 21, 2017

DANNY RAY LONG, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson, Judge.

         Danny Long appeals the district court's dismissal of his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Patrick A. Sondag of Sondag Law, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         A jury found Danny Long guilty of two counts of first-degree robbery. This court affirmed his conviction in its entirety. See generally State v. Long, No. 99-1429, 2000 WL 1827178, at *1-6 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 13, 2000). Thirteen years after procedendo issued, Long filed his second postconviction relief application. The State moved for summary dismissal. The district court granted the motion after concluding Long "failed to file his application within the three-year statute of limitations provided under Iowa Code section 822.3" (2015) and "failed to raise a ground of fact or law that could not have been raised within the statute of limitations period."

         Long filed a "motion for expanded findings and relief" pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904. The district court denied the motion, and this appeal followed.

         I. Timeliness of Appeal

         As a preliminary matter, the State argues Long's appeal is untimely because it was not "filed within 30 days after the filing of the final order or judgment." Iowa R. App. P. 6.101(1)(b). The State acknowledges Long filed a postjudgment motion to enlarge or amend that could extend the time for filing an appeal notice. See id. ("[I]f a motion is timely filed under Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.904(2) . . ., the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days after the filing of the ruling on such motion."). But, in the State's view, the motion was not "proper." See In re Marriage of Okland, 699 N.W.2d 260, 265-66 (Iowa 2005) ("[A]n . . . improper rule 1.904(2) motion cannot extend the time for appeal." (footnote omitted)).

         The State is correct that a rule 1.904(2) motion is not available under certain circumstances and the filing of an improper motion will not toll the time for appeal. Id. at 265-66, 265 n.2.[1] But, "when used to obtain a ruling on an issue that the court may have overlooked, or to request the district court enlarge or amend its findings when it fails to comply with rule 1.904(1), " which requires written findings of fact and conclusions of law where the court is trying an issue of fact without a jury, "the motion is proper and will toll the time for appeal." Baur v. Baur Farms, Inc., 832 N.W.2d 663, 669 (Iowa 2013).

         The district court filed a succinct dismissal order. In his rule 1.904(2) motion, Long pointed to testimony and exhibits admitted at the dismissal hearing that, in his view, generated issues of material fact with respect to the legal issues he raised. In filing the motion, Long reasonably could have believed the court overlooked these facts. We conclude the motion was proper, the motion extended the time for filing a notice of appeal, and the notice of appeal was timely. Moreover, rule 1.904 was amended effective March 1, 2017, as was Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.101, to permit an appeal within thirty days of a ruling on such a motion without the necessity of examining the propriety of the motion. See Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.904 & cmt. (2017); Iowa R. App. P. 6.101 & cmt. (2017).

         II. Summary Dismissal

must be filed within three years from the date the conviction or decision is final or, in the event of an appeal, from the date the writ of procedendo is issued. However, this limitation does not apply to a ground of fact or law that ...

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