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Sullins v. Iowa District Court For Polk County

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 19, 2019

RAYMOND SULLINS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR POLK COUNTY, Defendant-Appellee, and CITY OF DES MOINES and SAFARI II, LLC, Intervening Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Mary Pat Gunderson, Judge.

         Plaintiff appeals the district court ruling denying his petition to vacate the court's decision denying his motion for a new trial. AFFIRMED.

          Ray Sullins, West Des Moines, pro se appellant.

          Luke DeSmet, Assistant City Attorney, for appellee City of Des Moines.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., Mullins, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Raymond Sullins appeals the district court ruling denying his petition to vacate the court's decision denying his motion for a new trial. We conclude Sullins did not assert adequate grounds to grant his motion to vacate. We affirm the decision of the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Sullins rented a commercial space from Safari II, L.L.C., in Des Moines. Safari brought a forcible-entry-and-detainer (FED) action against Sullins for violating the terms of the lease. At about the same time, the City of Des Moines cited Safari for violating the city zoning code.[1] In the FED action, the small claims court determined Sullins should be removed from the property. Sullins's request to intervene in the zoning ordinance proceeding was denied. He appealed the matters to the district associate court, which denied both appeals.

         Sullins filed petitions for writ of certiorari in the two matters. He claimed the magistrates and judges involved in the cases acted illegally and irregularly. The district court consolidated the cases and denied Sullins's claims. Sullins filed a motion for new trial, which was denied by the district court on May 1, 2016. Sullins appealed. We affirmed the district court. Sullins, 2017 WL 5178987, at *6.

         On May 1, 2017, while Sullins's case was pending on appeal, he filed a petition to vacate the district court's decision denying his motion for new trial. He claimed the decision should be vacated or modified based on Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.1012(2), which refers to "Irregularities or fraud practiced in obtaining [a decision]." Although Sullins raised several claims in the petition, at the hearing on the petition after some discussion with the court, Sullins clarified he was asserting there was not substantial evidence to show he violated the ordinance and he was prevented from presenting evidence concerning the ordinance violation at the small claims hearing in the FED action.

         The City and Safari claimed (1) Sullins's motion to vacate was not supported by an affidavit, as required by rule 1.1013(1); (2) the same issues were raised in the appeal of the petitions for writ of certiorari; and (3) there were no irregularities in the district court's decision denying the motion for new trial.

         At the hearing on the motion to vacate, the district court made a ruling from the bench finding Sullins had not shown any irregularity and denying the motion. The court also issued a written ruling, stating:

The Court reviewed the pleadings, relevant rules of Civil procedure and relevant case law and considered the parties arguments made on the record and for all the reasons stated on the record the court Finds the ...

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