from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David M.
inmate challenges the penalty imposed upon the dismissal of
his third application for postconviction relief.
REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.
M. Carr of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and William A. Hill, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.
DANILSON, Chief Judge.
Benavidez appeals the sanction imposed by the district court
for the summary dismissal of his third application for
postconviction relief (PCR). Specifically, Benavidez asserts
the district court misinterpreted the available statutory
review claims involving the interpretation of statutes for
correction of errors at law. State v. Harrington,
893 N.W.2d 36, 41 (Iowa 2017).
to Iowa Code section 610A.2 (2016), if the district court
finds an inmate has filed a frivolous civil action, the court
may dismiss the action. See Maghee v. Iowa Dist.
Ct., 712 N.W.2d 687, 691 (Iowa 2006). If the court
dismisses the action, the inmate is subject to penalties
pursuant to Iowa Code section 610A.3. Id. Section
(1) If an action or appeal brought by an inmate or prisoner
in state court is dismissed pursuant to section 610A.2, or,
if brought in federal court, is dismissed under any of the
principles enumerated in section 610A.2, the inmate shall be
subject to the following penalties:
(a)The loss of some or all of the earned time credits
acquired by the inmate or prisoner. Previous dismissals under
section 610A.2 may be considered in determining the
appropriate level of penalty.
(b) If the inmate or prisoner has no earned time credits to
deduct, the order of the court or the disciplinary hearing
may deduct up to fifty percent of the average balance of the
inmate account under section 904.702 or of any prisoner
penalty appears to be mandatory. See Iowa Code
§ 610A.3(1) (stating "the inmate shall be
subject to" penalties (emphasis added));
Kopecky v. Iowa Racing & Gaming
Comm'n, 891 N.W.2d 439, 443 (Iowa 2017) ("When
the term 'shall' appears in a statute, it generally
connotes the imposition of a mandatory duty." (citation
omitted)). The court has the discretion to order "[t]he
loss of some or all of the earned time credits acquired by
the inmate or prisoner." Iowa Code § 610A.3(1)(a);
see Maghee, 712 N.W.2d at 695 ("Because this
provision does not mandate a set penalty, the sanction must
rest in the discretion of the district court."). But
"[i]f the inmate . . . has no earned time credits to
deduct, " the statute allows deducting "up to fifty
percent of the average balance of the inmate account."
Id. § 610A.3(1)(b).
the district court concluded Benavidez's PCR application
was frivolous and "[a]ccordingly, fifty percent (50%) of
the average balance of [Benavidez's] inmate account shall
be deducted pursuant to Iowa Code [section] 610A.3(1)(a),