from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, George L.
Nix appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief, which we construe as a
motion to correct an illegal sentence.
L. Thompson, Tama, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
application for postconviction relief (PCR), Telly Nix
identified he was convicted of first-degree robbery "and
was given a mandatory sentence simply because he was over the
age of 18." However, he argued "he was immature and
still too young to make responsible decisions," and his
mandatory minimum sentence therefore violates his
constitutional rights of due process and equal protection, as
well his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
that a criminal sentence is unconstitutional amounts to an
assertion that the sentence is illegal, and an illegal
sentence may be corrected at any time. State v.
Lyle, 854 N.W.2d 378, 382 (Iowa 2014). We construe
Nix's application as a motion to correct an illegal
sentence, the denial of which he has no right to appeal from.
See State v. Propps, 897 N.W.2d 91, 96-97 (Iowa
2017); see also Bonilla v. State, 791 N.W.2d 697,
699-700 (Iowa 2010). The proper form of review is by a
petition for writ of certiorari. Propps, 897 N.W.2d
at 97. We therefore treat Nix's notice of appeal and
appellate briefs as a petition for writ of certiorari, grant
the writ, and proceed to the merits of his claims.
See Iowa R. App. P. 6.108.
State moved for summary disposition of Nix's application,
arguing the supreme court's decision in
Lyle only applies to juveniles
offenders. The State moved for summary disposition of
Nix's purported amended application on the same grounds.
Following an unreported hearing, the district court denied
the application as follows:
The gravamen of Mr. Nix's application is that because he
was in his early 20s when the crime for which he was
convicted was committed that the precepts of State vs.
Lyle should be applied to him. His belief is that
because the human brain is not sufficiently formed by age 25,
that he should not be held to adult standards. That is not
the law of the State of Iowa.
question before us in this certiorari proceeding is whether
the district court's decision is contrary to law.
See Iowa R. App. P. 6.107(1)(a) (allowing certiorari
where a lower tribunal "acted illegally");
State Pub. Defender v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 744 N.W.2d
321, 321 (Iowa 2008) ("[I]llegality exists . . . when
the court has not properly applied the law." (citation
appeal, Nix essentially asks us to extend the application of
Lyle to adult criminal offenders. 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." State v. Seats, 865
N.W.2d 545, 556 (Iowa 2015) (discussing Roper v.
Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 574 (2005)). Nix was not a
juvenile at the time of his offense. He is not entitled to be
treated as a juvenile for purposes of sentencing. The
district court's conclusion of the same was not contrary
to law. We also note our previous rejection of arguments
identical to Nix's. We see no reason to deviate from these
extent Nix argues not extending the application of
Lyle to adult offenders violates the constitutional
guarantee to equal protection of the laws, we disagree.
See Lyle, 854 N.W.2d at 395 (noting juveniles
"are constitutionally different from adults for purposes
of sentencing" (quoting Miller v. Alabama, 132
S.Ct. 2455, 2464 (2012))); Varnum v. Brien, 763
N.W.2d 862, 883 (Iowa 2009) ("[T]he equal protection
guarantee requires that laws treat all those who are
similarly situated with respect to the purposes of the
law alike."); see also Hall, 2018 WL
4635685 at *6; Nassif, 2018 WL 3301828, at *1.
Nix argues the court erred in summarily disposing of his
application without providing him a hearing. The record
before us shows he was granted a hearing. Nix seems to
complain that he was not given an opportunity to conduct
discovery before the hearing. The record belies his claim.
The State filed its motion for summary disposition in June
2018. About a week later, the court scheduled a hearing on
the motion to take place in August. PCR counsel moved for a
continuance, requesting "additional time to allow the
undersigned to gather information . . . and obtain exhibits
and other documentation, if appropriate, prior to
hearing." Over the State's resistance, the court
granted the motion and continued the hearing to October. The
hearing was held as scheduled. Nix had ample time to compile