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Lang v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 19, 2019

MICHAEL HOWARD LANG, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Edward A. Jacobson, Judge.

         Michael Lang appeals the denial of his application and supplemental application for postconviction relief.

          Rees Conrad Douglas, Sioux City, for appellant.

          Michael H. Lang, Clarinda, pro se.

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

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Michael Lang appeals the district court's dismissal of his application for postconviction relief (PCR) filed in 2016 and his 2017 supplemental application. Lang claims structural error in the court's decision, but the record is inadequate for us to evaluate this claim. We find most of Lang's claims are time-barred, have been previously decided, or otherwise not properly before this court. We find the new evidence challenging hair analysis at trial would not have changed the result of the trial. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         In 1988, Lang held the victim in his home against her will overnight, chained her, hit her repeatedly, and threatened her. A jury convicted Lang of kidnapping in the first degree. Our court affirmed his conviction in 1990. State v. Lang, No. 88-1469 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 27, 1990). The current appeal rises out of Lang's seventh application for PCR. He has filed multiple direct-appeal challenges and appeals of his PCR applications which have been denied.[1] Lang filed the current application on September 28, 2016, alleging 2015 Iowa Supreme Court cases provided a change in legal basis entitling him to relief. Lang filed a supplemental application on June 8, 2017, along with a motion to vacate his criminal conviction and motion for new trial filed under his original criminal case on June 27, 2017, based on the use of hair analysis evidence in his jury trial.[2] The State filed a motion for summary judgment and supplemental motion for summary judgment, both of which the district court granted.[3]

         II. Arguments on Appeal

         On appeal, Lang's counsel claims the district court committed structural error by requesting ex parte the State prepare findings of fact and conclusions of law.[4] Counsel urges us to find structural error violating Lang's due process rights by depriving Lang of his right to counsel. The requested relief is to vacate the district court's decision, reverse the court's dismissal of Lang's PCR application, and remand for adjudication on the merits.

         Lang submitted multiple pro se filings to this court on appeal. We will only address the issues raised in his application and amended application for PCR.[5]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."). Lang claims case law from 2015 changed a legal basis underlying his conviction and that his sentence was inherently illegal and in violation of the ex post facto clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Lang also raises a claim of newly-discovered evidence discrediting the hair analysis evidence presented during his criminal trial.

         The State responds to Lang's claim of structural error that the district court has not had a chance to address the claim and error has not been preserved. As to the hair analysis testimony, the State claims Lang did not meet his burden to ...


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