Barney v. DoC

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Barney v. Department of Corrections. Filed May 20, 1999 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS

Garth D. Barney,
Petitioner and Appellant,


Department of Corrections, Inmate
Disciplinary Hearing Office; Joe Houghes; et al.,
Respondents and Appellees.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 990231-CA

May 20, 1999
  1999 UT App 171 -----

Third District, Salt Lake Department
The Honorable William Barrett

Garth D. Barney, Draper, Appellant Pro Se


Before Judges Wilkins, Davis, and Jackson.


Appellant contends that the Department of Corrections has exceeded its jurisdiction, abused its discretion and violated his constitutional rights in assessing restitution payments and medical co-payments against appellant and deducting them from his prison account. The district court ruled that this claim is improper under Rule 65B because it does not "challenge conditions of confinement." We disagree. An inmate need not challenge conditions of confinement in order to bring a Rule 65B petition. See Renn v. Utah State Bd. of Pardons, 904 P.2d 677, 682 (Utah 995)(stating where petitioner does not challenge legality of detention, lawfulness of sentence or conditions of confinement, relief is available by extraordinary writ of mandamus). Generally, Utah courts may grant extraordinary relief whenever the circumstances of a particular case warrant it. See id. Specifically, Rule 65B provides for extraordinary relief against an administrative agency that has exceeded its jurisdiction or abused its discretion. Utah R. Civ. P. 65B(d). Relief may extend to abuses arising within the prison system that constitute a denial of an inmate's constitutional rights. See Homer v. Morris, 684 P.2d 64, 67 (Utah 1984); Wickham v. Fisher, 629 P.2d 896, 900 (Utah 1981). Appellant's challenge is appropriately made under Rule 65B.

However, appellant's petition is substantively deficient and was, accordingly, properly dismissed. See Zion's first Nat'l Bank In re Estate of Hock v. Fennemore, 655 P.2d 1111, 1114 (Utah 1982) ("We will affirm a trial court's decision on a proper ground even if not relied upon by the trial court."). Specifically, appellant has failed to demonstrate that the Department has abused its discretion or exceeded its authority. The Department has the statutory authority to assess and deduct restitution, deduct court-ordered fines and restitution, deduct expenses of incarceration, supervision or treatment, and require and deduct reasonable medical co-payments. See Utah Code Ann. §§ 64-13-23(4), 64-13-30(3) & 64-13-33 (1996). Accordingly, the Department has not violated any rule or statute and, being statutorily empowered to deduct the charges, need not follow regular garnishment proceedings.

Appellant's constitutional challenges are equally unavailing. Appellant fails to allege facts or cite legal authority that demonstrates that the assessments and deductions, which the Department was statutorily empowered to make, deprived him of his due process rights under the Utah Constitution. SeeState v. Amicone, 689 P.2d 1341, 1344 (Utah 1984) (stating constitutional claims warrant no consideration where claimant fails to support claims with legal analysis and authority); Wickham v. Fisher, 629 P.2d 896, 901 (Utah 1982) (stating courts will address problems arising out of internal prison administration only with reluctance and upon showing by prisoner of a violation of important rights).

Based on the foregoing, we hold that the petition was properly dismissed without further proceedings, and affirm the district court. See Andrews v. Morris, 607 P.2d 816, 822 (1980), cert. denied, 101 S. Ct. 254 (1980) (stating that where it affirmatively appears from petition that petitioner is not entitled to relief sought an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary).

Michael J. Wilkins,
Presiding Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge

Norman H. Jackson, Judge