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Davis v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2019

MICHAEL ALON DAVIS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark R. Lawson, Judge.

         Michael Davis appeals the dismissal of his fourth postconviction-relief application.

          Sharon D. Hallstoos of Hallstoos Law Office, LLC, Dubuque, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         Michael Davis appeals the dismissal of his fourth postconviction-relief application following his 1997 conviction for first-degree kidnaping, second-degree sexual abuse, and aggravated assault. See Davis v. State, No. 14-2103, 2016 WL 6652303, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 9, 2016); Davis v. State, No. 01-0759, 2002 WL 1332259, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 19, 2002); State v. Davis, 584 N.W.2d 913, 915 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998). Davis essentially concedes the postconviction-relief application was filed outside the three-year time bar set forth in Iowa Code section 822.3 (2017).[1] He challenges the district court's ruling on the ground that the court's fact findings "referred largely to the State's motion to dismiss, which referenced alleged prior proceedings and court documents that were neither judicially noticed nor admitted as exhibits into the record." He also argues certain claims fell within an exception to the time bar.

         I. District Court's Reference to Prior Proceedings

         Iowa Code section 822.6 states:

The court may grant a motion by either party for summary disposition of the application, when it appears from the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions and agreements of fact, together with any affidavits submitted, that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         Summary disposition under this statute is akin to summary judgment. See Manning v. State, 654 N.W.2d 555, 559-60 (Iowa 2002). "Therefore, the principles underlying summary judgment procedure apply to motions of either party for disposition of an application for postconviction relief without a trial on the merits." Id. at 560.

         The State filed a motion to dismiss the fourth postconviction-relief application. The dismissal motion listed prior proceedings, pointed out that the single issue raised in Davis' fourth application had been litigated, and sought dismissal on statute-of-limitations grounds and on the ground there were "no issues to litigate." The court scheduled the motion for hearing seven weeks after its filing. Davis did not file a resistance. Instead, he moved to amend his petition to raise several additional claims.

         The district court held an unreported non-evidentiary hearing. In its subsequent ruling, the court made clear that the State's dismissal motion was being treated as a motion for summary disposition under Iowa Code section 822.6. See Porter v. State, No. 14-1925, 2015 WL 6508957, at *1 n.1 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 28, 2015) ("Technically speaking, it would be more accurate to say that [the applicant] is appealing the district court's summary disposition of her application for postconviction relief, even though the motion the district court granted was the State's motion to dismiss."). After summarizing the prior proceedings, the court dismissed Davis' original and amended claims on statute-of-limitations grounds or on the ground the claims were previously litigated and decided.

         We discern no error in the court's handling of the State's motion. The district court applied the summary disposition statute as written. In summarizing prior proceedings, the court did not invoke judicial notice principles but simply cited the undisputed prior proceedings disclosed in the record. Notably, Davis referenced many of those proceedings in his postconviction-relief application. He mentioned the crimes underlying his conviction, the date of the guilty verdict, this court's affirmance of his conviction, and the 2002 dismissal of his second postconviction-relief application.[2]See In re Hinkle's Estate, 38 N.W.2d 648, 649 (Iowa 1949) ("The executrix herself . . . pleaded the filing of the 'opinion' and expressly referred to her application."). In the absence of a resistance, the prior proceedings stood as admitted. See Lang v. State, No. 14-1997, 2015 WL 9450779, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2015) ("To the extent that the State's motion consisted of a statement of undisputed facts, the asserted facts were not resisted by [the applicant]."); accord Harris v. State, No. 16-0637, 2017 ...


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