Shaffer v. State of Iowa
ORDER on 7 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Mr. Shaffer's 28 USC Section 2254 Petition is denied. Signed by Senior Judge Donald E OBrien on 8/14/15. (djs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
GALEN K. SHAFFER,
CHARLES M. PALMER, Director
of Iowa Department of Human
RULING ON 28 U.S.C. § 2254
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Galen
Shaffer’s [hereinafter Mr. Shaffer] 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Petition.
Following a hearing in March 2010, an Iowa District Court
found Mr. Shaffer to be a sexually violent predator and
ordered his commitment. In re Det. of Shaffer, 800 N.W.2d 755
(Table) (Iowa Ct. App. 2011) [hereinafter, Shaffer II]. He is
currently a civilly committed patient the CCUSO facility in
“In 1991, Shaffer was adjudicated to have committed a
delinquent sexual act as a minor.
Four years later, he was
convicted as an adult of three counts of sexual abuse in the
indeterminate terms of incarceration not to exceed twenty-five
In re Det. of Shaffer, 769 N.W.2d 169, 171 (Iowa
Mr. Shaffer’s underlying criminal convictions are not
at issue in the present appeal.
The Iowa State Court’s have set out the relevant history.
Following his conviction for sexucal abuse, Mr. Shaffer was
committed to the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections
to serve his indeterminate term of incarceration.
§ 902.3 (providing that a court sentencing a felon other than
a class “A” felon to confinement “shall commit the person into
corrections for an indeterminate term”).
While Mr. Shaffer
remained in the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections,
he was eligible to earn a reduction of his sentence based upon
See I.C.A. § 903A.2.
The statutes governing
reduction of sentences were amended multiple times during Mr.
department calculated Mr. Shaffer’s release date by applying
the amendments and other factors.
The last discharge date
calculated by the department, prior to the dispute raised in
this case, was July 2008.
Mr. Shaffer never challenged the
calculation of his discharge dates before the State filed the
petition for civil commitment.
The State filed Mr. Shaffer’s (first) petition for civil
commitment on October 9, 2007.
The petition alleged Mr.
Shaffer was in state custody and probable cause existed to
believe he was a sexually violent predator.
Mr. Shaffer was
in prison in the state penitentiary at Anamosa at the time.
Mr. Shaffer then filed two applications for postconviction
relief. On October 19, 2007, Mr. Shaffer filed an application
for postconviction relief in Jones County, where the Anamosa
State Penitentiary is located.
On October 24, 2007, Mr.
Shaffer filed a second application for postconviction relief
in Black Hawk County, where he was convicted of sexual abuse
in the second degree in 1995.
The Iowa state court in Jones County held that the
calculations under I.C.A. 903A.2, as applied to Mr. Shaffer,
violated the Ex Post Facto Clause because the new statutory
provision governing the reduction of sentences increased Mr.
Shaffer’s punishment. The district court in Black Hawk County
held a probable cause hearing on the State’s petition for
civil commitment, together with a hearing on the application
for postconviction relief.
Mr. Shaffer argued that the Iowa
court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the State’s
petition because Mr. Shaffer was ‘illegally confined’ not
“presently confined” as defined in 229A.4. Mr. Shaffer argued
that he was not “presently confined” because he should have
been discharged in September 2007, prior to the time the
petition was filed.
The court in Black Hawk County also held
that application of the amendment to I.C.A. 903A.2 to Mr.
Shaffer violated his rights under the Ex Post Facto Clause.
The Court found that the State failed to timely file the
petition for civil commitment because Mr. Shaffer should have
been released prior to the filing of petition.
As a result,
the state court granted summary judgment on Mr. Shaffer’s
State’s petition for civil commitment.
The State appealed the decision dismissing the civil
In In re Det. of Shaffer, 769 N.W.2d
169, 171 (Iowa 2009) [hereinafter Shaffer I], the Iowa Supreme
Court reversed the district court decision.
The Iowa Supreme
the issue presented in this case requires
us to interpret the statutory phrase
role is to determine the intent of the
legislature. State v. Sluyter, 763 N.W.2d
575, 581 (Iowa 2009).
A host of rules
exist to assist in this task.
Code§ 4.6. In this case, the primary rule
we rely upon is that statutes are
interpreted consistent with the common law
and with other laws pertaining to similar
subjects. Id. § 4.6(4); Schaer v. Webster
County, 644 N.W.2d 327, 336 (Iowa 2002).
Shaffer I, 769 N.W.2d at 173.
That court found no dispute
about the constitutional question saying:
[t]he State acknowledges that our recent
decision in State v. Iowa District Court,
759 N.W.2d 793 (Iowa 2009), resolves the ex
post facto issue in Shaffer’s favor, but
argues Shaffer was nonetheless ‘presently
confined’ for purposes of the SVP Act.
Shaffer I, 769 N.W.2d at 173.
Instead, that Iowa Supreme
Court turned to statutory analysis of I.C.A. 229A and found
in this case, the State confined Shaffer
under a good-faith belief that the relevant
Nothing in the record suggests bad faith or
gamesmanship, and Shaffer never disputed
the calculation of his release date prior
to the time the petition was filed. The
subsequent challenges to the State’s
calculation of Shaffer’s release date and
our holding in Iowa District Court do not
change the historical fact that Shaffer was
confined for sexual abuse in the second
degree when the State petitioned for his
Shaffer I, 769 N.W.2d at 174.
The Court concluded that, “a
person named in a petition for civil commitment as a sexually
229A.4(1), even though the basis of confinement may later be
found to be erroneous.”
Shaffer I, 769 N.W.2d at 175.
Accordingly, the case was remanded to Iowa state district
The Iowa state district court found that Mr. Shaffer
qualified for commitment under I.C.A. 229A.
The Iowa Court of Appeals confirmed Mr. Shaffer’s
commitment, Shaffer II, 800 N.W.2d at 755, the Iowa Supreme
Court declined further review.
Mr. Shaffer timely filed this 28 U.S.C. 2254 action on
May 7, 2012.
Docket No. 1-1.
Mr. Shaffer briefed three issues.
First, Mr. Shaffer
argues that his commitment is a violation of his rights under
the Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process.
unreasonable application of clearly established law by the
Finally, Mr. Shaffer argues that his commitment
was based upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in
violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
The State denies Mr. Shaffer’s arguments on the merits and
also alleges that he has procedurally defaulted on his claims.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) provides that a federal court
shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on
behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a
State court only on the ground that he is in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
A federal court’s review of a State court decision under
§ 2254 is deferential.
(8th Cir. 2003).
Lomholt v. Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751
A state court decision on the merits should
not be overturned unless it:
(1) resulted in a decision that was
contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of
the United States; or (2) resulted in a
decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the State court
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).
application of Supreme Court law if it makes “a conclusion
opposite that reached by [the] Court on a question of law or
. . . decides a case differently than [the] Court has on a set
of materially indistinguishable facts.”
327 F.3d at 752
(quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000).
State court’s factual findings are presumed correct.
U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
In order to overcome this presumption,
Mr. Shaffer must show “by clear and convincing evidence that
the state court’s . . . factual findings do not enjoy support
The State first argues that Mr. Shaffer has failed to
exhaust his state court remedies.
petitioner must exhaust all available state court remedies.
requirement, a petitioner must provide the highest state court
a full and fair opportunity to consider the factual and legal
basis for all of the claims before presenting them to a
See, e.g., Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U.S. 254,
257 (1986) (“[A] state prisoner may initiate a federal habeas
petition ‘[o]nly if the state courts have had the first
opportunity to hear the claim sought to be vindicated ....’”)
(alterations in original); Miller v. Lock, 108 F.3d 868, 871
theories on which the claim is based must have been presented
to the highest state court in order to preserve the claim for
This requires a petitioner to invoke “one
complete round of the State’s established appellate review
O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999).
In Iowa, a “prisoner whose appeal is deflected to the Iowa
Court of Appeals must file an application for further review
in the Supreme Court of Iowa to exhaust his claims properly in
the state courts.”
Welch v. Lund, 616 F.3d 756, 759 (8th Cir.
requirement compels a petitioner to “refer to ‘a specific
federal constitutional right, a particular constitutional
provision, a federal constitutional case, or a state case
raising a pertinent federal constitutional issue.’”
5 F.3d 1178 at 1179 (quoting Kelly v. Trickey, 844 F.2d 557,
558 (8th Cir. 1988)).
A claim is not fairly presented to the
theories asserted in the petitioner’s federal habeas corpus
petition have been properly raised in the petitioner’s state
See Keithley v. Hopkins, 43 F.3d 1216,
1217 (8th Cir. 1995); Flieger v. Delo, 16 F.3d 878, 884 (8th
Cir. 1994); see also Barrett v. Acevedo, 169 F.3d 1155, 1162
(8th Cir. 1999) (“Presenting a claim that is merely similar to
the federal habeas claim is not sufficient to satisfy the
fairly presented requirement.”).
In this case, Mr. Shaffer seemingly exhausted his state
court remedies. He appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals, who
ruled against him, and the Iowa Supreme Court declined further
However, the State argues that Mr. Shaffer failed to
raise his federal law claims before the Iowa Court of Appeals.
The Court will consider this argument in the context of each
Due Process Claim
Mr. Shaffer’s first argument is that:
[t]he decision of the Supreme Court of Iowa
stated that they rejected attempts to apply
a “hypertechnical” definition of “presently
confined.” 769 N.W.2d at 174.
reasonable application of state law to this
Petitioner should certainly include in that
constitutional rights demanded that he be
released when his sentence expired and the
State should not be able to use of that
unlawful confinement as the basis for this
indefinite civil commitment. In M[a]leng
v. Cook, the Supreme Court was presented
with a question as to whether a habeas
petitioner remains “in custody” under a
conviction after the sentence imposed for
it has fully expired, if there was the
possibility that the prior conviction would
be used to enhance the sentences imposed
for any subsequent crimes of which he is
convicted. The Court determined that such
a petitioner was not “in custody.”
U.S. 488, 109 S. Ct. 1923 (1989) per
Docket No. 28, p. 6-7.
Put another way, under the relevant
Iowa law, the state can only commit a person as a sexual
offender if that person is already in prison for a sexual
Mr. Shaffer admits that he was in prison at the time
the State filed their motion to have him committed.
Shaffer argues that the only reason he was in prison was
because the State incorrectly calculated his release date.
The Iowa Supreme Court agreed that the State should have
released Mr. Shaffer earlier; but, the Iowa Supreme Court
found that since Mr. Shaffer was in custody through a good
faith mistake that no one knew about, they would rely on the
plain language of the statement and find that Mr. Shaffer was
eligible to be committed as a sexual offender because he was
in custody at the time the motion was filed.
argues that in so doing, the Iowa courts violated his due
The State denies Mr. Shaffer’s argument on the merits and
also argues that he failed to exhaust this argument.
response to the State’s failure to exhaust argument, Mr.
Shaffer argues that:
determining that Petitioner was properly a
person “presently confined” as the basis
for his civil commitment as a sexually
exhausted his state court remedies by
challenging the legality of his detention
in state district court, filing for
post-conviction relief, contesting the
state’s appeal of the decision in his
favor, in challenging the detention on its
merits and in appealing the adverse
decision. Shaffer raised violations of his
state and federal constitutional rights in
exhausting these state court remedies. See
In re Detention of Shaffer, 769 N.W.2d 169
(Iowa 2009); In re Detention of Shaffer,
2011)(unpublished disposition), Doc. 23-20.
Docket No. 28, p. 6.
Mr. Shaffer’s response is not as clear cut as it may
As discussed above, Mr. Shaffer is presently arguing
that the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to allow his commitment
to proceed, even though his then present incarceration was
illegal, was so egregious that it violated due process.
Shaffer argues that the constitution adds to the statute’s
requirement that he be presently confined a requirement that
the confinement is legal.
There is no clear indication Mr.
Shaffer made that argument to the Iowa Supreme Court in his
most recent case, Shaffer II.
Rather, in Shaffer II, Mr.
Shaffer argued about factual findings of his commitment,
whether the evidence was sufficient and whether his trial
See Docket No. 23, Att. 16.
The question is
whether Mr. Shaffer exhausted this issue in Shaffer I.
that case, Mr. Shaffer was arguing that the Iowa district
court’s judgment was correct in finding that Mr. Shaffer was
not presently confined at the time the state filed the 229A
Docket No. 26, Att 5.
It was in response to that
argument that the Iowa Supreme Court determined that Mr.
Shaffer was presently confined for 229A purposes and that the
commitment could proceed.
Thus, the Iowa Supreme Court
clearly had an opportunity to consider the overarching issue
of whether Mr. Shaffer was presently confined. However, it is
not clear that the Iowa Supreme Court considered the due
process claim in the context of that argument.
process claim was not raised in Mr. Shaffer’s trial brief, and
the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling only discusses the ex post
Shaffer I, 769 N.W.2d at 175.
Thus, it does
not appear that Mr. Shaffer has preserved this claim for
But, assuming arguendo that Mr. Shaffer had preserved the
due process claim, his argument would still likely fail.
primary issue is the Iowa Supreme Court’s definition of
The phase ‘presently confined’ is found
in the sexual offender statute, I.C.A. 229A.
question in this case is squarely about the proper application
of state law.
As cited by the State, the 8th Circuit
determined that the federal habeas court did not have the
authority to intervene.
In Poe v. Caspari, 39 F.3d 204 (8th
Cir. 1994), the Defendant was serving time when a county
prosecutor brought a separate set of charges against him.
Missouri statute said that the prosecution of a current inmate
had to be disposed within 180 days if the inmate so requested,
and the inmate in that case so requested. However, the prison
holding him took months to release him to the prosecuting
county, and by that time, the 180 days had run.
asked that the charges be thrown out, but the state court
denied the motion, noting that the defendant was no longer in
the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections when the
180 days elapsed.
Eventually, the inmate filed a 28 U.S.C. §
2254 petition, and the 8th Circuit ruled that:
[v]iolation by state officials of a state
speedy trial law, taken alone, does not
present a federal claim reviewable on
Cain v. Petrovsky, 798
F.2d 1194, 1195 (8th Cir. 1986); see
Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 112 S. Ct.
475, 480, 116 L. Ed. 2d 385 (1991) (“[I]t
is not the province of a federal habeas
determinations on state law questions. In
conducting habeas review, a federal court
is limited to deciding whether a conviction
treaties of the United States.”). Poe's §
217.460 claim is based only on Missouri law
and actions of Missouri officials, and thus
may be addressed only by the Missouri
Poe, 39 F.3d at 207.
Mr. Shaffer’s claim is similar to the claim in the Poe
There is no doubt that the prison officials held Mr.
Shaffer longer than they were supposed to.
But the Iowa
Supreme Court found that there was no bad faith in the
reasonably rely on the fact that Mr. Shaffer was in custody as
a matter of fact, to determine he was ‘presently confined’ for
the purposes of I.C.A. 229A. That determination is ultimately
‘presently confined’ mean - the same way the Poe case hinged
on the question of how the Missouri state court interpreted
its speedy trial statutes.
In this case, Mr. Shaffer has
actionable federal due process claim.
must be denied.
Accordingly, his claim
Clearly Established State Law
Next, Mr. Shaffer argues that:
unreasonable application of state law as
Shaffer continued to be confined despite
his protests and demands for release in
violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right
to Due Process of law.
The State, in
challenging the dismissal of the petition
immaterial yet the Iowa Code provides an
alternate procedure to seek commitment for
a person not confined.
See Iowa Code
Docket No. 28, p. 2. Mr. Shaffer argues that because the Iowa
confined’ to those confined for prior sexual offenses, his
commitment violates the terms of the statute.
See In re
In his brief, Mr. Shaffer cites the case of Maleng v.
Cook, 490 U.S. 488 (1989) (per curiam). However, that is a
very narrow case that only deals with a federal court’s habeas
There is no question in this case that Mr.
Shaffer is in custody for the purposes of pursuing habeas
The question is whether or not he has stated a
cognizable claim for relief. As the Supreme Court stated in
Maleng, “[o]ur holding is limited to the narrow issue of
“custody” for subject-matter jurisdiction of the habeas
court.” Id. at 494.
Detention of Gonzales, 658 N.W.2d 102 (Iowa 2003).
Gonzales clearly presented a different question than Mr.
In Gonzales, the defendant has been released
from custody on his prior sexual offense, and had subsequently
been rearrested on unrelated charges.
The State filed a
motion to commit Gonzales pursuant to I.C.A. 229A.
Supreme Court determined that since Gonzales had completed his
sentence for the sexual offense and had been released, he was
no longer in custody for the purposes of the statute.
Shaffer’s case, he was still serving his sexual offense
sentence (even though it had been calculated incorrectly) when
the state filed the 229A motion.
The Iowa Supreme Court
applied a plain meaning analysis and found that Mr. Shaffer
qualified as a person who may be a sexual offender who was
Based on those two cases, it is easy to understand the
rule in Iowa:
if you are, as a matter of fact, in custody
based on your sexual offense, the state can file an I.C.A. §
229A.4(1) petition against you; if the state has released you
‘presently confined’ petition, even if you are in custody for
subsequent unrelated conduct. That rule does not amount to an
unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law or
the unreasonable determination state court law.
Additionally, Mr. Shaffer has failed to point to any
Accordingly, this unreasonable application of state law claim
must be denied.
Unreasonable Determination of Facts
Mr. Shaffer’s final argument is that the State did not
present sufficient evidence at his civil commitment hearing.
This issue was exhausted in Shaffer II, where Mr. Shaffer’s
commitment was affirmed by the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the
Iowa Supreme Court denied further review.
In his brief, Mr. Shaffer argues that:
[t]he more reliable evidence at the hearing
on the merits of the state’s petition to
detain the [sic] Shaffer demonstrated that
confinement under Iowa law in that he was
not presently suffering from a mental
abnormality and was not likely to reoffend.
See App. 56-60.
The commitment was not
supported by substantial evidence based on
the testimony of Dr. Anna Salter.
Since this argument clearly fails on the merits, the
Court need not consider whether it was procedurally defaulted.
Shaffer argued in his appeal, the state
district court clearly gave weight to the
testimony of Dr. Craig Rypma who testified
Shaffer had also
argued relying on the testimony of Dr.
Lewis Rosell who agreed with Dr. Rypma that
Shaffer did not meet the criteria for
The state court
clearly erred in concluding that there was
substantial evidence to support Shaffer’s
Docket No. 28, p. 9. Thus, Mr. Shaffer’s argument is that the
testimony over the testimony of Dr. Rypma and Dr. Rosell.
As is well settled:
[u]nder § 2254, [Federal Courts] must give
deference to the state court’s decision
unless it is “contrary to, or involved an
established Federal law” or rests on “an
unreasonable determination of the facts in
light of the evidence presented in the
State court proceeding.”•
28 U.S.C. §
[Federal Courts] presume the
factual findings of the state court are
correct unless rebutted by “clear and
28 U.S.C. §
Gabaree v. Steele, No. 13-3486, 2015 WL 4126428, at *4 (8th
Cir. 2015). Thus, this Court will give deference to the state
court’s factual findings.
As set out by the Iowa Court of Appeals:
Three experts testified at trial: Craig B.
Rypma, Ph.D. and Luis Rosell, Ph.D. for
Shaffer, and Anna Salter, Ph.D. for the
State. Each expert gave varying testimony
regarding Shaffer’s mental condition. Dr.
Rypma testified that he “did diagnose
[Shaffer] with a diagnosis that would
qualify him under Iowa statute” as a person
who suffers from a mental abnormality that
predisposes him to commit sexually violent
offenses, in addition to pedophilia and
antisocial personality disorder.
continued that although he technically gave
Shaffer this diagnosis, there were some
“serious caveats” as to whether he truly
qualified as having a mental abnormality.
He surmised Shaffer’s crimes could have
been the result of suffering from a
developmental disorder when he was a child,
and in Shaffer’s “current presentation”• he
did not believe he was a pedophile. Dr.
Rosell agreed, testifying that while
Shaffer may have suffered from pedophilia
at the time of his convictions, he believed
the diagnosis was no longer appropriate.
He did, however, diagnosis Shaffer with
antisocial personality disorder.
Salter, on the other hand, concluded that
Shaffer suffered from pedophilia, and “is
high risk to reoffend.”• When questioned
as to Dr. Rypma’s diagnosis of antisocial
personality disorder, Dr. Salter testified
that it was a fair diagnosis, but it did
not change her diagnosis of pedophilia;
antisocial personality disorder merely
decreased Shaffer’s ability to control his
She did not believe that the
time he spent imprisoned and away from
pedophilia, particularly because he did not
complete any treatment program. The court
found it was “more persuaded by the
testimony of Dr. Salter and Dr. Rypma
concerning the diagnosis that respondent
suffers from a condition that impairs the
Shaffer II, 800 N.W.2d 755 (Table) at 2.
Mr. Shaffer’s case presented a classic scenario.
doctors all testified slightly differently. Dr. Rypma waffled
on whether Mr. Shaffer was predisposed to sexually violent
Dr. Rosell said Mr. Shaffer was anti-social but not
sexually dangerous, where as Dr. Salter squarely testified
that Mr. Shaffer was predisposed to sexually violent offenses.
The state court decided that Dr. Salter’s testimony was most
Based on that evidence, along with Mr. Shaffer’s
history and admissions of abusing children between the ages of
two and fifteen, the state court determined Mr. Shaffer
suffers from a mental abnormality that makes him likely to
offenses, if not confined to a secure facility.
It is a basic principal of appellate review, at every
level, that appellate courts give deference to the original
In this case, the district court
acknowledged that there was a split among the experts but
found Dr. Salter to be most credible.
The Iowa Court of
Appeals then reviewed that determination and affirmed.
is nothing in either court’s decision that amounts to an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
Accordingly, Mr. Shaffer has failed to state a claim that is
cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and his petition must be
Ultimately, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2)(1) sets a high bar
for a petitioner to obtain relief.
Petitioner must show that
the Iowa courts defied federal law or acted unreasonably. Mr.
Shaffer has failed to make that showing.
For the reasons
discussed above, Mr. Shaffer’s 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Petition is
IT IS SO ORDERED this 14th day of August, 2015.
Donald E. O’Brien, Senior Judge
United States District Court
Northern District of Iowa
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?