705 F.2d 959 (8th Cir. 1983), 82-1396, Collins v. Hoke

Docket Nº:82-1396, 82-1405.
Citation:705 F.2d 959
Party Name:Lee Roy COLLINS, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Appellants/Cross Appellees, v. Mary Jo HOKE, individually and in her official capacity as General Relief Director of Cedar County, Iowa; Howard Davis, Norman Kroemer, Jean Penningroth, Robert Suchomel and Leroy Wiese, individually and in his or her official capacit
Case Date:February 15, 1983
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 959

705 F.2d 959 (8th Cir. 1983)

Lee Roy COLLINS, individually and on behalf of all other

persons similarly situated, Appellants/Cross Appellees,

v.

Mary Jo HOKE, individually and in her official capacity as

General Relief Director of Cedar County, Iowa; Howard

Davis, Norman Kroemer, Jean Penningroth, Robert Suchomel and

Leroy Wiese, individually and in his or her official

capacity as a member of the Board of Supervisors of Cedar

County, Iowa, Appellees/Cross Appellants.

Nos. 82-1396, 82-1405.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 15, 1983

Submitted Nov. 8, 1982.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied March 29, 1983.

Page 960

Christine Luzzie, Lois Cox, Legal Services Corp. of Iowa, Iowa City Regional Office, Iowa City, Iowa, for appellants/cross appellees.

Lee H. Gaudineer, Carlton G. Salmons, Austin & Gaudineer, Des Moines, Iowa, for appellees/cross appellants.

Before HEANEY, ROSS and FAGG, Circuit Judges.

ROSS, Circuit Judge.

This action is before this court on appeal by Lee Roy Collins and on cross-appeal by Mary Jo Hoke from the district court's 1 orders dated September 11, 1981, and January 14, 1982. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

Facts

Lee Roy Collins is a 52 year old widower who lives alone in a rented farmhouse in rural Cedar County, Iowa. He is unemployed and unemployable due to physical disabilities. At all times relevant, he was awaiting final determination on his application for Federal Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Benefits. 2

Collins received about $350.00 from Cedar County in general relief assistance in September and October of 1980. In December, Collins' subsequent request for assistance was denied and he was offered residence in the Cedar County Care Facility. On December 22, 1980, Collins filed his original complaint in federal district court challenging the County's authority to provide for support by placement in the care facility. Upon Collins' motion for preliminary injunction, the district court ordered the County to provide Collins with monetary assistance until February 6, 1981.

Cedar County adopted a county ordinance on February 4, 1981, establishing regulations governing provision of general relief assistance. Relevant portions of the ordinance provided: (1) a limitation of the amount of monetary assistance to $1,000.00 per year; and (2) express authorization to the County to offer placement in the care facility whenever assistance might extend beyond 60 days. On February 5, 1981, in reliance on the new ordinance, the County General Relief Director denied Collins' request for monetary assistance of $260.00. The Director instead offered him residence in the care facility because any additional monetary assistance would exceed the $1,000.00 per year ceiling. Collins refused the offer.

Page 961

On February 9, 1981, Collins appeared before the Cedar County Board of Supervisors to present his appeal of the Director's decision. Collins was represented at the hearing by a paralegal from the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa. The Board refused to allow Collins to be represented by a nonattorney during the appeal hearing. The Board affirmed the Director's denial of monetary relief and offer of residence in the care facility. Collins filed a supplemental complaint in federal district court under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. Jurisdiction is also based on 28 U.S.C. Secs. 1331 and 1343(3) and (4).

On September 11, 1981, the district court ruled that the County's offer of facility placement violated Iowa Code Sec. 252.27 (1981), that the $1,000.00 annual ceiling on benefits violated the County's statutory duty to assist the poor, and that Collins was constitutionally entitled to nonattorney representation before the Board. In its order of January 14, 1982, upon reconsideration of its earlier rulings, the district court held that a state statute effective July 1, 1981, expressly granted authority to the County to offer placement in the care facility and validated the $1,000.00 ceiling. The court then addressed Collins' constitutional arguments and found that the County's actions and the ordinance satisfied constitutional requirements.

Collins appeals challenging the constitutionality of the county ordinance authorizing placement in a care facility and the constitutionality of the $1,000.00 ceiling on general relief. On cross-appeal, the County raises the following issues: (1) the County's authority prior to July 1, 1981, to offer residence in the care facility; (2) Collins' right to nonattorney representation before the Board; and (3) the district court's award of attorney fees.

  1. Constitutionality of Facility Placement and $1000 Ceiling

    Collins contends that the County's offer of residence in the care facility amounts to an involuntary commitment which violates his protected liberty interest and his right to due process. He argues that he lacks any real capacity to reject the offer because of his lack of alternative sources of support. Collins argues that his right to personal liberty protected by the fourteenth amendment is infringed by the restrictions to which he would be subjected at the care facility. 3

    Collins cites a line of cases in which the United States Supreme Court has found liberty interests in: a teacher's choice to teach a foreign language, Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 400, 43 S.Ct. 625, 627, 67 L.Ed. 1042 (1923); parents' choice to send children to private schools, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534, 45 S.Ct. 571, 573, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925); a married person's right to obtain contraceptives, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965); and a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 153, 93 S.Ct. 705, 726...

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