from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark D. Cleve,
appeal challenging the department of public safety's
determination regarding the length of time the applicant must
register with the sex offender registry.
B. Mears of Mears Law Offices, Iowa City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and John R. Lundquist, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., McDonald, J., and Mahan, S.J.
question presented in this appeal is whether the department
of public safety committed reversible error within the
meaning of the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act, Iowa Code
chapter 17A (2017), when it determined that Ross Barker must
register for life on the sex offender registry. See
Iowa Code § 17A.19(10) (setting forth grounds for relief
from agency action); Iowa Code § 692A.116 (providing for
an application for determination related to registration
requirements). The district court concluded not, and Barker
timely filed this appeal. On appeal, Barker concedes the
department's determination was not in violation of
chapter 17A, stating, "The law is/was reasonably clear
the length of registration for Barker's offense should be
lifetime." We agree with Barker's concession, and we
thus affirm the judgment of the district court.
Barker agrees the department of public safety correctly
interpreted and applied the relevant statutes when it
determined he must register for life, he nonetheless requests
relief from that determination. Barker requests the duration
of the registration requirement be limited to a period of ten
years. The basis for Barker's request is an appeal to the
equities. In two prior judicial proceedings, it was stated
Barker was required to register for only ten years. He
contends his plea was thus not knowing and voluntary, and
this court should limit the registration period to ten years
as a remedy. He also contends the department should be
precluded or estopped form imposing a lifetime registration
requirement because of the prior representations made to him.
first instance in which Barker was told his registration
period was ten years occurred at the time of sentencing. In
2008, Barker pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit
sexual abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa
Code section 709.11 (2007). There is no record of the guilty
plea other than the plea forms. At the sentencing hearing,
however, the sentencing court told Barker, "[Y]ou will
be required to be on the Sex Offender Registry for a period
of ten years." The parties agree this statement was
second instance in which it was stated Barker would have to
register for a period of ten years occurred during the
resolution of Barker's application for postconviction
relief. Barker was released from prison on July 9, 2013. At
the time of his release, the county sheriff informed Barker
he was required to register for life rather than ten years.
Barker filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, which
the district court treated as an untimely application for
postconviction relief and dismissed. Barker appealed the
decision. In the appeal, appellate counsel argued
postconviction counsel was ineffective in failing to argue
Barker's plea was not knowing and voluntary because
Barker was affirmatively misled about the duration of the
registration requirement. This court denied relief. See
Barker v. State, No. 14-1178, 2015 WL 5287142, at *2-3
(Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 10, 2015). In denying Barker's
claim, this court stated Barker did not suffer prejudice from
postconviction counsel's alleged failings because
"Barker was required to be placed on the Sex Offender
Registry for a period of ten years, not a lifetime as Barker
mistakenly asserted." Id. at *2. The parties
agree this statement was incorrect.
these prior judicial statements, this court is unable to
provide Barker with administrative relief. The only question
presented in this appeal is whether Barker is entitled to
relief pursuant to the administrative procedure act.
See Iowa Code § 17A.19(10) (setting forth
grounds for relief from agency action). This administrative
proceeding is not the correct vehicle for Barker to contest
the validity of his plea or to provide a remedy for any such
claims for issue preclusion and collateral estoppel are
equally unavailing. The recent case of Jensen v.
State, No. 12-1997, 2016 WL 718798, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App.
Feb. 24, 2016), is directly on point. In that case, the
defendant sought specific performance of a plea agreement
that provided he register as a sex offender for ten years
rather than life as determined by the department. See
Jensen, 2016 WL 718798, at *1. In support of his
argument, Jensen noted the district court advised him he was
required to register for only ten years and entered a
sentencing order that specifically provided the registration
period was for only ten years. See id. at *2.
Relying on State v. Bullock, 638 N.W.2d 728, 735
(Iowa 2002), this court stated "a sentencing court is
without authority to determine the length of time that a
criminal defendant has to register as a sex offender."
Id. at 3. We agree with this reading of
Bullock. Bullock makes "apparent that
the determination of the length of any required registration
is an administrative decision initially committed to the
department of public safety." 638 N.W.2d at 735.
Accord Garcia v. State, No. 12-0510, 2013 WL
2368820, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. May 30, 2013) ("The
determination whether a person is subject to chapter 692A and
is required to register as a sex offender is the
responsibility of the department of public safety, not the
courts."). The Code vests exclusive authority in the
department to "determine whether the offense for which
the offender has been convicted requires the offender to
register" and "whether the period of time during
which the offender is required to register . . . has
expired." Iowa Code § 692A.116(1). The courts are
without authority to change the requirement of registration
or length of registration.
on our reading of Bullock and Jensen, it is
clear Barker is not entitled to any relief in this
proceeding. This is true whether the claim is asserted as a
claim for specific performance, as in Jensen, or as
claims of issue preclusion and collateral estoppel, as in
this case. We express no opinion on whether Barker would be
entitled to relief in a subsequent postconviction-relief
proceeding or whether the department's determination is
now a "ground of fact" that could not have been
asserted prior to the expiration of the statute of
limitations for postconviction-relief proceedings.
See Iowa Code § 822.3 (providing the
limitations period "does not apply to a ground of fact
or law that could not have been raised within the applicable
time period"); Bullock, 638 N.W.2d at 735
("Until the department has made a decision on the
defendant's term of registration, there is no concrete
controversy. Any adjudication by the district court prior to
an administrative decision and a request for judicial review
of that decision is premature."). We note, however, our
prior opinion did not resolve the question of whether
Barker's plea was knowing and voluntary because the claim
was not presented in the district court and because, at the
time of the decision, there had not yet been a determination
regarding the duration of the registration requirement.
See Barker, 2015 WL 5287142, at *2-3 ("While he
claims he was given a lifetime registry requirement, he has
provided no evidence of this assertion.").
department of public safety did not commit reversible error
within the meaning of Iowa Code section 17A.19(10) in
determining Barker was required to register for life on the