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Vance v. Iowa District Court for Floyd County

Supreme Court of Iowa

February 9, 2018

CHAD DENNIS VANCE, Plaintiff,
v.
IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR FLOYD COUNTY, Defendant.

          Certiorari to the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

         Criminal defendant appeals a magistrate's extension of a no-contact order for five years in a simple misdemeanor case.

          Joseph A. Cacciatore of Graham, Ervanian & Cacciatore, L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, and Rachel Ginbey, County Attorney, for appellee.

          ZAGER, Justice.

         Chad Dennis Vance appeals from the district court order affirming a magistrate's extension of a no-contact order for five years. After Vance filed his notice of appeal to our court, we issued an order directing Vance to file an application for discretionary review pursuant to Iowa Code section 814.6(2). We subsequently granted his application for discretionary review and requested that the parties brief the following jurisdictional issues: (1) whether the magistrate court had subject matter jurisdiction to extend a no-contact order in a simple misdemeanor case under Iowa Code chapter 664A, and (2) whether a right to appeal exists from the extension of a no-contact order in a simple misdemeanor case. Vance also presents other claims on appeal. Upon our review of the record and the arguments of counsel, we conclude that the present appeal should be treated as a petition for writ of certiorari. Considering the appeal as a certiorari action, we grant the writ and proceed to the merits. On the merits, we hold that the magistrate had subject matter jurisdiction to extend the no-contact order under Iowa Code chapter 664A. However, we conclude that the findings of fact and decision of the district court are not supported by substantial evidence in the record, and we reverse the district court order extending the no-contact order for five years and remand the case to the district court for entry of an order terminating the no-contact order.

         I. Facts and Procedural Background.

         In February 2016, Chad Vance pled guilty to a charge of harassment in the third degree. In his plea, Vance admitted that he communicated with Les and Amy Staudt "with the intent to annoy" in violation of a civil no-contact order previously entered against him and in favor of the Staudts. Vance had sent his son to the state wrestling tournament the previous month to annoy the Staudts, who Vance knew would be in attendance. As part of his plea agreement, Vance agreed to the entry of a one year no-contact order. The no-contact order included a provision prohibiting Vance from entering any school in the Charles City Community School District at any time, as well as "any college or university campus, or anywhere in the vicinity of a school currently being attended by any of the protected parties." After approving the plea agreement, the magistrate issued the no-contact order on March 4, 2016, which was to remain in effect for one year. In addition to the aforementioned school-related provisions, this no-contact order required Vance to refrain from any contact with the Staudt family.

         On January 24, 2017, the State filed a motion to extend the no-contact order. Vance resisted the motion, and the court held a hearing on the motion on February 15. Amy Staudt testified at the hearing that she wanted the no-contact order extended. She feared the situation with Vance would go back to the way it was before the no-contact order was entered if the court did not extend it. However, she admitted that Vance had not violated the no-contact order in any way since it was entered. William Vetter, a Charles City police officer, testified on Vance's behalf. He testified that he had known Vance since Vance worked as a probation/parole officer. He was unaware of any instances in which Vance had violated the terms of the no-contact order, and he saw no reason why Vance could not be present in a school environment. Finally, Vance testified on his own behalf. He testified that he had fully complied with all terms of the no-contact order and that he was no threat to the Staudts. Most importantly, he wanted to be able to attend his daughter's activities within the Charles City Community School District. The magistrate granted the motion and, based on the testimony, extended the no-contact order for a period of five years pursuant to Iowa Code section 664A.8 (2017). This no-contact order is now set to expire on March 4, 2022.

         Vance appealed the magistrate's decision to the district court pursuant to Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.73(3). On appeal, the associate district court judge affirmed the magistrate's order to extend the no-contact order. Vance then appealed to our court. We treated the appeal as an application for discretionary review and granted the application. However, as we will explain later, we now decide to treat this appeal as a certiorari action.

         II. Standard of Review.

         Our standard of review for questions of statutory interpretation is for correction of errors at law. State v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 889 N.W.2d 467, 470 (Iowa 2017). We also review an original certiorari action for the correction of errors at law. State v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 828 N.W.2d 607, 611 (Iowa 2013). "Illegality exists when the court's findings lack substantial evidentiary support, or when the court has not properly applied the law." State Pub. Def. v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 747 N.W.2d 218, 220 (Iowa 2008) (quoting Christensen v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 578 N.W.2d 675, 678 (Iowa 1998)). "Evidence is considered substantial when reasonable minds could accept it as adequate to reach a conclusion." State v. Garrity, 765 N.W.2d 592, 595 (Iowa 2009).

         III. Analysis.

         When we granted Vance's application for discretionary review, we specifically directed the parties to brief the following jurisdictional issues: whether a magistrate has subject matter jurisdiction to extend a no-contact order in a simple misdemeanor case pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 664A, and whether the defendant has a right to appeal the extension of a no-contact order in a simple misdemeanor case. Additionally, Vance presents a number of other issues on appeal. He argues the associate district court judge unlawfully affirmed the magistrate's extension of the no-contact order. Moreover, he asserts Iowa Code section 664A.8 is unconstitutionally vague. Further, Vance claims courts cannot extend a one year no-contact order to five years unless the State can show a change of circumstances warranting extension. Finally, Vance alleges the State provided insufficient evidence to establish that he continued to pose a threat to the safety of the victims as required to extend a no-contact order. We will address each of these arguments in turn as necessary.

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction of the Magistrate.

         Vance contends that the magistrate lacked subject matter jurisdiction to extend the no-contact order under Iowa Code chapter 664A, so the extension is void. Vance claims that the legislature's decision to grant magistrates subject matter jurisdiction to hold trials in simple misdemeanor cases did not confer magistrates with unlimited jurisdiction to extend no-contact orders arising in those simple misdemeanor cases. Vance notes the omission of chapter 664A from Iowa Code section 602.6405, the statute governing subject matter jurisdiction for magistrates. In contrast, the State argues the magistrate exercised appropriate subject matter jurisdiction in extending the ...


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