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State v. Muligande

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 9, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EDDY SHAMI MULIGANDE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van Marel, District Associate Judge.

         Eddy Shami Muligande appeals his sentence for two charges of public intoxication, second offense.

          John L. Dirks of Dirks Law Firm, Ames, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         Eddy Shami Muligande pled guilty to two charges of public intoxication, second offense. Each violation was a serious misdemeanor under Iowa Code sections 123.46(2) and 123.91 (2018). For each violation, the district court imposed a one-year term of confinement. The court ran the sentences consecutively for a total indeterminate term not to exceed two years.

         Muligande argues "his sentence of two years for two counts of public intoxication with a prior conviction" violates the prohibitions of cruel and unusual punishment found in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and article I, section 17 of the Iowa Constitution. This is true, Muligande argues, because his prison sentence is "grossly disproportionate" to his crimes. We disagree.

         We review an allegedly unconstitutional sentence de novo. State v. Richardson, 890 N.W.2d 609, 614 (Iowa 2017). Our review begins with the words of our constitutions. The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Article I, section 17 of the Iowa Constitution reads: "Excessive bail shall not be required; excessive fines shall not be imposed, and cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted."

         Neither clause "contain[s] a proportionality provision." See Crawley v. State, No. 15-1812, 2017 WL 108298, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2017) (McDonald, J., concurring specially) (citing State v. Bruegger, 773 N.W.2d 862, 873 (Iowa 2009)). Moreover,

[a]s Justice Thomas noted with respect to the . . . Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution:
"[T]he Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause was originally understood as prohibiting torturous methods of punishment-specifically methods akin to those that had been considered cruel and unusual at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted." The clause does not contain a "proportionality principle." In short, it does not authorize courts to invalidate any punishment they deem disproportionate to the severity of the crime or to a particular class of offenders. Instead, the clause "leaves the unavoidably moral question of who 'deserves' a particular nonprohibited method of punishment to the judgment of the legislatures that authorize the penalty."

Id. (quoting Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 503-04 (2012) (Thomas, J., dissenting)); see, e.g., In re Kemmler, 136 U.S. 436, 446 (1890) (noting "cruel and unusual punishment" encompasses barbarous types of punishment, such "as burning at the stake, crucifixion[, ] breaking on the wheel, or the like").

         The parties agree, however, that binding precedent requires this court to conduct a proportionality review. As our supreme court recently explained in State v. Wickes, "[w]e use a three-part test to determine whether a sentence is 'grossly disproportionate' under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clauses of the State ...


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