Estate of Hildur P. Hollander, Decedent.Annotate this Case
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Stephen A. Hodgson,
State of Minnesota,
Filed December 29, 1998
Washington County District Court
File No. C1-98-1676
Stephen A. Hodgson, Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, 970 Pickett Street North, Bayport, MN 55003-1490 (appellant pro se)
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Sara DeSanto, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Stephen A. Hodgson appeals from the district court's dismissal of his pro se habeas corpus petition as "frivolous." Because Hodgson has failed to establish violation of any fundamental constitutional right, we deny his petition, thus affirming on other grounds.
Hodgson was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in 1992, and was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison. He has raised evidentiary issues and challenged the effectiveness of his attorneys on direct appeal and in postconviction proceedings. Hodgson v. State, 540 N.W.2d 515 (Minn. 1995) (postconviction); State v. Hodgson, 512 N.W.2d 95 (Minn. 1994) (direct appeal).
In this habeas corpus petition, Hodgson challenges prison policies that require him to perform work assignments and that deduct room and board costs from his wages to offset the cost of his incarceration. See Minn. Stat. § 243.18, subd. 2, § 243.23 (1996). Hodgson argues that these policies, which were amended in 1994, render his 1992 conviction invalid because they incorporate "additional punishments into an existing criminal sentence, specifically the taking of [his] money to reimburse the State for the costs of the order of confinement that it obtained in 1992" and involve "selling [him] into slavery to the highest bidding private company as further punishment." Hodgson alleges that these policies implicate his constitutional rights under both the Fifth and Thirteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, which prohibit involuntary servitude and double jeopardy.
D E C I S I O N
The district court ruled that because Hodgson's claims are unrelated to his conviction or sentence, they are not the proper subjects of a habeas corpus proceeding, citing Rainer v. State, 566 N.W.2d 692, 696 (Minn. 1997). See also Sutherlin v. State, 574 N.W.2d 428, 435-36 (Minn. 1998), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 2351 (U.S. Minn. June 22, 1998). Rainer and Sutherlin, however, involved petitions for postconviction relief under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1 (1996). While the two statutes serve similar purposes, they are not identical. See Bolstad v. State, 435 N.W.2d 547, 548-49 (Minn. App. 1989) (discussing parallels between postconviction and habeas corpus, and noting postconviction has not "completely eliminated" use of habeas, particularly in extradition matters and challenges to conditions of confinement).
A writ of habeas corpus is a statutory civil remedy available "to obtain relief from [unlawful] imprisonment or restraint." Minn. Stat. § 589.01 (1996); see also State ex rel. Bassett v. Tahash, 263 Minn. 447, 448, 116 N.W.2d 564, 565 (1962) (function of writ of habeas corpus is to relieve one from unlawful restraint). Habeas is an appropriate remedy if the relief to which a petitioner may be entitled is immediate release. Kelsey v. State, 309 Minn. 560, 560-61, 244 N.W.2d 53, 54 (1976). A writ of habeas corpus may also be used to raise claims involving fundamental constitutional rights and significant restraints on a defendant's liberty or to challenge the conditions of confinement. See, e.g., Kelsey v. State, 283 N.W.2d 892, 895 (Minn. 1979) (unconstitutional denial of parole; habeas may be used to challenge conditions as cruel and unusual punishment); Tahash, 263 Minn. at 448, 116 N.W.2d at 565 (irregularity in sentencing); Northwest v. LaFleur, 583 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1998) (challenge to setting of treatment program that delays early release date); Bolstad, 435 N.W.2d at 549 (habeas appropriate for challenging conditions of confinement); Kelsey v. State, 349 N.W.2d 613, 613 (Minn. App. 1984) (cruel and unusual punishment because of prison conditions).
Hodgson fails to establish deprivation of any fundamental constitutional rights. Work requirements have been upheld as constitutional and not a violation of the prohibition against involuntary servitude. Williamson v. McManus, 299 Minn. 112, 112-13, 216 N.W.2d 264, 265 (1974) (requirement that inmate work not violation of Thirteenth Amendment prohibition against involuntary servitude; no constitutional right to compensation while incarcerated); see also Ray v. Mabry, 556 F.2d 881, 882 (8th Cir. 1977) (work requirement does not offend Thirteenth Amendment absent unusual circumstances); Nicolaison v. Erickson, 425 N.W.2d 597, 598-99 (Minn. App. 1988) (no constitutional property or liberty interest in prison employment). Policies withholding or deducting monies from prison wages to offset costs of incarceration are not "so punitive either in purpose or effect" as to constitute additional criminal punishments for the same offense. State v. McKinney, 575 N.W.2d 841, 845 (Minn. App. 1998) (civil sanctions that are not "so punitive either in purpose or effect" do not violate double jeopardy clause). Finally, the federal courts have already rejected Hodgson's other constitutional challenges to these policies under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Hodgson v. Wood, 107 F.3d 875 (8th Cir. 1997) (policies do not violate prohibition against ex post facto laws or otherwise violate Hodgson's due process or equal protection rights).
We therefore affirm the district court's rejection of Hodgson's habeas corpus petition, albeit on different grounds.