Lenz v. State of Iowa
ORDER re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Russell Lenz. The petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus is dismissed, and a certificate of appeability is denied. Signed by Judge Mark W Bennett on 4/17/12. (copy w/nef mailed to pro se petitioner) (djs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
RUSSELL GLEN LENZ,
STATE OF IOWA,1
This matter is before the court following transfer from the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Such transfer occurred on March 5, 2012. The
clerk’s office filed the action in this district on March 6, 2012. Prior to the case being
transferred or on January 12, 2012, the petitioner submitted an application for a writ of
habeas corpus (docket no. 1). Additionally, as directed by the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Iowa, the petitioner filed an amended application for a writ of
habeas corpus on February 21, 2012. The petitioner paid the required $5.00 filing fee.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) (requiring $350.00 filing fee for civil actions, except that on
application for a writ of habeas corpus the filing fee is $5.00).
A petitioner, before obtaining federal habeas corpus review of his or her state
confinement, must first “exhaust” his or her federal claims in the appropriate state forum.
The petitioner brings this action against the State of Iowa, but the proper
respondent in a federal habeas corpus action is “the person having custody of the person
detained.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2242 (stating application shall allege
the name of the person who has custody over him); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Ct. of
Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 494-95, 93 S. Ct. 1123, 35 L. Ed. 2d 443 (1973) (“The writ of habeas
corpus does not act upon the prisoner who seeks relief, but upon the person who holds him
in what is alleged to be unlawful custody.”). Thus, the petitioner improperly named the
State of Iowa as the respondent.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). In his amended application for a writ of habeas corpus,
the petitioner does not explicitly address whether he ever pursued a timely direct appeal,
and he states that he is still pursuing post-conviction relief in the Iowa District Court for
Crawford County. Additionally, a review of Lenz v. State, Case No. PCCV036812
(Crawford Cnty. Dist. Ct. 201_), Lenz v. Hicks, Case No. CVCV036853 (Crawford Cnty.
Dist. Ct. March 2, 2012), Lenz v. Timmins, Case No. EQCV036814 (Crawford Cnty.
Dist. Ct. Feb. 15, 2012), Lenz v. Hoffmeyer, Case No. LACV036837 (Crawford Cnty.
Dist. Ct. Feb. 15, 2012), and State v. Lenz, Case No. FECR063244 (Crawford Cnty. Dist.
Ct. Nov. 23, 2009), indicates that the petitioner never filed a timely direct appeal after
judgment entered against him and he sought post-conviction relief no earlier than
December 19, 2011.2 Because the Iowa Supreme Court has never had an opportunity to
review his claim that the Iowa District Court for Crawford County did not properly arraign
him and because he is still pursuing post-conviction relief, it is appropriate to dismiss the
petitioner’s action for failing to comply with 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A).3 Moreover,
under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A), the petitioner had one year from the date on which his
judgment became final to file his application for a writ of habeas corpus, but he waited
until January 12, 2012 to seek habeas corpus relief, which is well beyond the one year
Iowa state court criminal and civil records may be accessed at the following
address: http://www.iowacourts.gov/Online_Court_Services/. See Stutzka v. McCarville,
420 F.3d 757, 760 n.2 (8th Cir. 2005) (addressing court’s ability to take judicial notice of
The court notes that the petitioner’s claim appears to be frivolous, especially
considering that the petitioner submitted several documents that show he signed a written
arraignment and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
period.4 Therefore, the petitioner’s habeas corpus action is barred by the applicable statute
of limitations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A).
In sum, because the petitioner did not comply with the exhaustion requirements of
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) or file before the applicable statute of limitation ran, it is
appropriate to dismiss the petitioner’s action. To the extent he desires a certificate of
appealability under 28 U.S.C. § 2253, the court concludes there are no appealable issues.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
The petitioner’s application for a writ of habeas corpus (docket no. 1) is dismissed,
and a certificate of appealability is denied.
DATED this 17th day of April, 2012.
MARK W. BENNETT
U. S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
Iowa law allows a defendant three years in which to apply for post-conviction
relief. See Iowa Code § 822.3. Nonetheless, the one-year statute of limitation contained
in 28 U.S.C. § 2244 bars a petitioner from filing a federal application for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 if one year or more of the three-year period for filing a
state application for post-conviction relief under Iowa Code section 822 lapses. See
Painter v. Iowa, 247 F.3d 1255, 1256 (8th Cir. 2001); see also Curtiss v. Mount Pleasant
Corr. Facility, 338 F.3d 851, 853-55 (8th Cir. 2003) (applying Painter).
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