ED S. NASSIF, Applicant-Appellant,
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Patrick R.
Nassif appeals the denial of his postconviction-relief
C. Meyer, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
Potterfield, J., takes no part.
Nassif was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced
to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At the
time of the offense in September 1990, Nassif was twenty-one
years old. In June 2014, Nassif filed a pro-se application
for postconviction relief claiming his sentence amounts to
cruel and unusual punishment because "the brain is not
fully developed until the age of 25." Following a
hearing, the district court denied Nassif's application.
appeals. He contends his sentence of life in prison without
the possibility of parole amounts to cruel and unusual
punishment and violates his constitutional right to equal
protection of the laws. Nassif takes the position that the
separate sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders created by
our supreme court in recent years should be extended to young
adult offenders because the brain does not fully mature until
around the age of twenty-five years. Our review is de novo.
See Zarate, 908 N.W.2d at 840.
Nassif's cruel-and-unusual-punishment argument, the
supreme court has made clear that its sentencing scheme for
juvenile offenders has "no application to sentencing
laws affecting adult offenders." Lyle, 854
N.W.2d at 403. "[T]he line between being a juvenile and
an adult was drawn for cruel and unusual punishment purposes
at eighteen years of age." Seats, 865 N.W.2d at
556 (discussing Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 574
(2005)). Nassif was not a juvenile at the time of his
offense. He is not entitled to be treated as a juvenile for
purposes of sentencing and is therefore not entitled to any
relief. We also note our previous rejection of arguments
identical to Nassif's. See, e.g., Smith v.
State, No. 16-1711, 2017 WL 3283311, at *1-2 (Iowa Ct.
App. Aug. 2, 2017), further review denied (Dec. 7,
2017); Thomas v. State, No. 16-0008, 2017 WL
2665104, at *1-2 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017). We see no
reason to deviate from these prior decisions.
additionally argues his sentence violates his constitutional
right to equal protection of the laws, asserting juvenile
offenders and young adult offenders both have adolescent
brains and are therefore similarly situated, but are treated
differently under current law. We agree with the State that
Nassif failed to preserve error on this argument, as it was
not raised in the district court. See Meier v.
Senecaut, 641 N.W.2d 532, 537 (Iowa 2002) ("It is a
fundamental doctrine of appellate review that issues must
ordinarily be both raised and decided by the district court
before we will decide them on appeal."); see also
State v. Mulvany, 600 N.W.2d 291, 293 (Iowa 1999)
("[W]e require error preservation even on constitutional
issues."). In any event, juveniles and young adults are
not similarly situated for the purposes of sentencing.
See Lyle, 854 N.W.2d at 395 (noting juveniles
"are constitutionally different from adults for purposes
affirm the denial of Nassif's postconviction-relief