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Wells v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 4, 2018

DEWITT MICHAEL WELLS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Thomas G. Reidel, Judge.

         The applicant appeals the district court decision denying his request for postconviction relief on his claim he received an illegal sentence. AFFIRMED.

          Eric D. Tindal of Keegan Farnsworth & Tindal, Iowa City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kevin R. Cmelik, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         DeWitt Wells appeals the district court decision denying his request for postconviction relief on his claim he received an illegal sentence. We find Wells has not shown he received an illegal sentence because his special sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment or because Iowa Code section 903B.1 (2009) denied his right to substantive due process. We affirm the district court's decision denying Wells's application for postconviction relief.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Wells pled guilty to lascivious acts with a child, in violation of Iowa Code section 709.8. Wells was sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed ten years. The court also determined Wells was subject to a special sentence, pursuant to section 903B.1. Wells appealed, but his appeal was subsequently dismissed as frivolous under Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.1005 by the Iowa Supreme Court.

         On December 15, 2015, Wells filed an application seeking postconviction relief on the ground he received an illegal sentence.[1] He claimed his special sentence under section 903B.1 constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated his right to due process. The court found Wells's claims were "contrary to established Iowa law that is binding on this Court under the doctrine of stare decisis." The court determined Wells failed to show he received an illegal sentence and denied his application for postconviction relief. Wells appealed.

         II. Standard of Review

         An illegal sentence may be challenged at any time. Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.24(5)(a); State v. Bruegger, 773 N.W.2d 862, 869 (Iowa 2009). "We generally review claims that a sentence is illegal for correction of errors at law; however, when a claim challenges the constitutionality of a sentence, we review it de novo." State v. Lopez, 907 N.W.2d 112, 116 (Iowa 2018).

         III. Cruel and Unusual

         Wells claimed the special sentence in section 903B.1 is cruel and unusual because he could be subject to parole for the rest of his life. He states the special ...


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