from the Iowa District Court for Palo Alto County, David A.
Lester, Judge. An habitual drug offender challenges his
fifteen-year sentence as unconstitutional.
Bjornstad of Jack Bjornstad Law Office, Okoboji, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kevin Cmelik and Zachary C.
Miller, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
constitutionality of Shawn Pattison's prison sentence
depends upon which of two scenarios accurately describes his
situation. Pattison paints himself as a drug user, not a drug
dealer, who received an indeterminate fifteen-year prison
sentence without eligibility for parole for three years for
possessing a single rock of methamphetamine. He contends his
sentence violates the due process and cruel and unusual
punishment clauses of the state constitution. The State poses
a different question: Does it offend the Iowa Constitution to
punish a three-time felony offender for possessing a small
amount of methamphetamine? Adopting the State's
comprehensive formulation of the issue, we find no
constitutional violation and affirm Pattison's sentence.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
received his first adult criminal conviction in 1999,
according to the presentence investigation report prepared
for this case. Relevant to the sentencing issue on appeal, in
2002, Pattison was convicted of eluding, a class
"D" felony. In 2004, Pattison was convicted of
methamphetamine possession, second offense. In 2007, Pattison
was convicted of possession of marijuana, third offense. In
2009, Pattison was convicted of burglary in the third degree,
also a class "D" felony.
September 2015, a deputy with the Palo Alto Sheriff's
Office went to Pattison's home to execute an arrest
warrant. When the deputy stopped Pattison outside his
residence, "[h]e kept putting his hands in his
pockets." When searching Pattison's pocket incident
to the arrest, the deputy found a baggie containing a rock of
methamphetamine, which weighed .41 grams. The State charged
Pattison with possession of a controlled substance, third or
subsequent offense, a class "D" felony, in
violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (2015). The State
also alleged Pattison was an habitual felon in violation of
Iowa Code section 902.9. A jury convicted Pattison on the
possession charge, and he admitted having the prior felony
convictions. The district court sentenced Pattison to an
indeterminate fifteen-year term of incarceration under Iowa
Code section 902.9(1)(c), with a "mandatory minimum
term" of three years under section 902.8.
appeal, Pattison challenges only the constitutionality of his
Preservation of Error and Standard of Review
may contest the legality of his sentence at any time. See
State v. Bruegger, 773 N.W.2d 862, 869 (Iowa 2009)
(recognizing certain constitutional challenges fall under
Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.24(5)(a)). We review
constitutional questions de novo. See id. As courts,
we give a strong presumption of constitutionality to
legislative determinations concerning terms of imprisonment.
See State v. Lara, 580 N.W.2d 783, 785 (Iowa 1998).
"We will not declare a statute constitutionally bad
unless it is clearly, palpably, and without doubt violative
of a constitutional right." State v. Kramer,
235 N.W.2d 114, 117 (Iowa 1975).
Constitutional Challenges A. Due Process of Law
first contends his prison sentence violates the substantive
due process protection in the Iowa Constitution. At issue is
the following clause: "[N]o person shall be deprived of
life, liberty, or property, ...