from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D.
appeals the district court decision requiring him to pay a
room and board reimbursement fee for time he spent in jail.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal) and
Maria Ruhtenberg, Assistant Appellate Defender, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
Gross appeals the district court decision requiring him to
pay a room and board reimbursement fee for time spent in
jail. We conclude the district court did not err in approving
the Polk County Sheriff's application for reimbursement
without making a finding Gross had a reasonable ability to
pay. We affirm the decision of the district court.
was charged with first-degree arson after he started a fire
in his home. He entered into a plea agreement and pled guilty
to second-degree arson, in violation of Iowa Code section
712.3 (2017). Gross was sentenced to a term of
imprisonment not to exceed ten years. The sentencing order,
filed on January 5, 2018, provided Gross was to pay
restitution in an amount to be determined.
January 16, the Polk County Sheriff's Office filed a
statement showing Gross was confined in the Polk County jail
for 197 days. On April 6, the Polk County Sheriff's
Office filed a claim for reimbursement, seeking $11, 415.00
for room and board during the time Gross was in jail. The
claim stated, "This Claim is made pursuant to Iowa Code
Section 356.7 for the reimbursement of Administrative Costs,
Room and Board, and Medical Aid Costs."
April 9, 2018, the district court entered an order stating,
the "Sheriff's Claim for Reimbursement is approved
by the Court pursuant to Iowa Code [section] 356.7 in an
amount of $11, 415.00." The order advised Gross,
"Any defendant aggrieved by the above order may file an
application with the court to have the court reexamine this
decision. The application must be filed within 15 days after
the filing of the court's order (See Iowa Rule of Civil
Procedure 1.1007)." Gross did not file an application
with the district court to challenge the court's order,
but filed a notice of appeal on April 18, 2018, within the
claims the district court improperly required him to pay
restitution of $11, 415.00, without making a finding as to
his reasonable ability to pay, contrary to constitutional
requirements. See State v. Kurtz, 878 N.W.2d 469,
472 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016) ("A defendant's reasonable
ability to pay is a constitutional prerequisite for a
criminal restitution order such as that provided by Iowa Code
chapter 910."). The State responds by claiming the Polk
County Sheriff was seeking to enforce the claim as a civil
judgment under chapter 626, rather than through a restitution
section 356.7(3), a court-approved claim for room and board
may be enforced in two ways: as a judgment in the traditional
sense, under Iowa Code chapter 626, or as part of a
restitution plan under chapter 910." State v.
Abrahamson, 696 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Iowa 2005). In the
original claim, "[i]f the sheriff or municipality wishes
to have the amount of the claim for charges owed included
within the amount of restitution determined to be owed by the
person, a request that the amount owed be included within the
order for payment of restitution by the person" must be
included in the reimbursement claim filed with the clerk of
district court. Iowa Code § 356.7(2)(i).
the claim by the sheriff nor the ruling by the district court
mentions restitution. Based on section 356.7(2)(i), we find
the sheriff was seeking to enforce its claim for
reimbursement under chapter 626. Where a sheriff proceeds
under chapter 626, the court has "inherent discretionary
authority to review any order . . . for substantive, as well
as procedural, irregularity, and to set the matter for
hearing where necessary." Abrahamson, 696
N.W.2d at 592. The court should "resolve the merits of
the claim." Id. at 593.
appeal, Gross asks us to reverse the district court's
order and remand for a hearing on his reasonable ability to
pay. As noted, this case involves a civil judgment under
chapter 626, not a restitution order under chapter 910. For a
civil judgment, Gross is "afforded the same protections
as other civil judgment debtors." See State v.
Dudley, 766 N.W.2d 606, 623 (Iowa 2009). This does not
include a determination the defendant is reasonably able to
pay the amount due, as in restitution proceedings.
See Iowa Code § 910.2; State v.
Jackson, 601 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Iowa 1999) (noting until a
restitution plan is filed "the court is not required to
give consideration to the defendant's ability to