from the Iowa District Court for Union County, John D. Lloyd,
prisoner appeals a district court order finding it did not
have subject matter jurisdiction to hear his case. REVERSED
J. Booth of Booth Law Firm, Osceola, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant
Attorney General, and Timothy R. Kenyon, County Attorney, for
prisoner filed a postconviction-relief action claiming the
policy of the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) in
delaying the start date of the sex offender treatment program
(SOTP) based on a sex offender's tentative discharge date
unlawfully extended his time in prison. The district court
held it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the
prisoner's challenge under Iowa Code section 822.2
(2015). On appeal, we find the proper analysis is not one of
subject matter jurisdiction but a lack of authority to hear
the case. We additionally find the district court did have
authority to hear the case and remand the case for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
1990, Kevin Franklin pled guilty to murder in the second
degree and sexual abuse in the second degree. The district
court consecutively sentenced him to an indeterminate term
not to exceed fifty years for the murder and an indeterminate
term not to exceed twenty-five years for the sexual abuse. We
affirmed the convictions on direct appeal on June 21, 1991,
and procedendo issued on July 12. Franklin has been eligible
for parole since 2012 and has a tentative discharge date of
November 5, 2015, Franklin filed a pro se application for
postconviction relief stating he was "otherwise
unlawfully held in custody or other restraint"-language
identical to Iowa Code section 822.2(1)(e)- and a
motion for correction of an illegal sentence. In these two
filings, Franklin alleged the IDOC required him to complete
SOTP yet continually denied his requests to participate in
SOTP because it was not yet time.
argued the IDOC decision to withhold SOTP until a sex
offender was within two to three years from discharging was
"being done intentionally and maliciously as a way for
the IDOC to artificially lengthen his sentence and
effectively remove any meaningful chance of parole or work
release." Franklin contended the IDOC was fully aware
the Iowa Board of Parole (IBOP) would not consider a sex
offender for parole before the sex offender's completion
of SOTP. He likened the IDOC policy to the imposition of a
silent mandatory minimum.
February 3, 2016, the State moved for summary judgment,
arguing, "[n]o factual nor legal basis exists to support
the allegations made by [Franklin]" under the listings
set out in chapter 822. The State further argued
Franklin's challenge, although labeled as a "motion
to correct illegal sentence, " was more accurately
characterized as a parole or administrative issue.
6, the district court granted the State's motion for
summary judgment on the ground it lacked subject matter
jurisdiction and dismissed the case. After noting Maghee
v. State, 773 N.W.2d 228 (Iowa 2009), and Davis v.
State, 345 N.W.2d 97 (Iowa 1984), involved disciplinary
actions reviewable under chapter 822, the district court
reasoned Franklin's case was not a disciplinary action.
The district court also noted the IDOC was lawfully holding
Franklin in custody under his sentence, and Franklin's
sentence itself was legal. The district court ruled Franklin
"must pursue other remedies to challenge the
policy" without specifying what those "other
remedies" might be.
II. "Subject Matter Jurisdiction" Versus
"Authority to Hear a Case."
reaching the issue in this case, we again stress the
difference between "subject matter jurisdiction"
and "authority" to hear a particular case. In