Wright v. Iowa Dept. of Corrections, No. 06-0863.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtLarson
Citation747 N.W.2d 213
PartiesFloyd WRIGHT, Appellant, v. IOWA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Fifth Judicial District, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 06-0863.
Decision Date11 April 2008
747 N.W.2d 213
Floyd WRIGHT, Appellant,
v.
IOWA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Fifth Judicial District, Appellee.
No. 06-0863.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
April 11, 2008.

[747 N.W.2d 214]

John P. Roehrick of Roehrick Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Forrest Guddall, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

LARSON, Justice.


Floyd Wright, who was convicted of a sexual offense against a minor in 1977, challenges the district court's ruling that he was subject to the residency restrictions of Iowa Code section 692A.2A (2005), which prohibits sex offenders from residing within two thousand feet of certain facilities such as schools. Wright contends that he is not subject to the statute because he was not a "registered" sex offender. Even if the statute were applicable, Wright contends it would violate his equal protection and substantive due process rights and would be invalid as a bill of

747 N.W.2d 215

attainder. The district court rejected his arguments, and so do we.

I. Facts and Prior Proceedings.

Floyd Wright was recently forced to move from his residence in Des Moines due to a change in ownership of the building where he lived. Wright had been convicted of statutory rape in 1977 and had completed his sentence at the time he was forced to move. Wright was never required to register as a sex offender because his statutory rape conviction predated the effective date of the sex offender registry statute in 1995. At the time of Wright's move, he was on probation for driving while barred, and as a condition of his probation, he was required to notify the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services of his intended move. Wright's probation officer informed him that his status as a sex offender prohibited him from moving to his proposed new location because it was within two thousand feet of a protected facility. See Iowa Code § 692A.2A.

Wright petitioned for a declaratory judgment that application of the residency restriction to him was invalid, and he also requested an injunction against enforcement of the restriction. He argued: the residency restrictions did not apply to him because he was not a registered sex offender, section 692A.2A violates his equal protection and substantive due process rights, and the minimum-distance statute constitutes a bill of attainder. The district court disagreed, concluding the language of section 692A.2A unambiguously applied to all sex offenders, not just those who were registered. Further, the district court rejected Wright's constitutional challenges, relying largely on this court's ruling in State v. Seering, 701 N.W.2d 655 (Iowa 2005).

II. Does Iowa's Residency-Restricting Statute Apply Only to Registered Sex Offenders?

Iowa Code section 692A.2A provides, in pertinent part:

1. For purposes of this section, "person" means a person who has committed a criminal offense against a minor, or an aggravated offense, sexually violent offense, or other relevant offense that involved a minor.

2. A person shall not reside within two thousand feet of the real property comprising a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school or a child care facility.

3. A person who resides within two thousand feet of the real property comprising a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school, or a child care facility, commits an aggravated misdemeanor.

It is undisputed that "statutory rape" under Iowa Code section 698.1 (1975) qualifies as a "relevant offense" under section 692A.2A.

Wright argues that the residency restriction applies only to "registered" sex offenders, based largely on the fact that this statute is included in the chapter entitled "sex offender registry." Before we engage in statutory construction, we must determine whether the statute is ambiguous. State v. Spencer, 737 N.W.2d 124, 129 (Iowa 2007). "A statute is ambiguous `if reasonable persons could disagree as to its meaning.'" Id. (quoting IBP v. Harker, 633 N.W.2d 322, 325 (Iowa 2001)). Ambiguity may arise in two ways: from the meaning of particular words or from the general scope and meaning of the statute when all of its provisions are examined. Id.

In this case, the legislature specifically set the parameters of section 692A.2A by

747 N.W.2d 216

stating it applies to a "person." Had the legislature failed to define "person," the statute might arguably be ambiguous. However, it did define the term. Specifically, it is "a person who has committed a criminal offense against a minor, or an aggravated offense, sexually violent offense, or other relevant offense that involved a minor." Iowa Code § 692A.2A(1). This definition is not ambiguous; the legislature did not limit the application of section 692A.2A to registered sex offenders, as Wright argues. Rather, it chose to make the residency restrictions applicable to a broader category of persons — those who have committed certain criminal offenses against minors. This definition clearly makes section 692A.2A applicable to Wright since he is a person convicted of statutory rape — a criminal offense against a minor. Further, the only reason Wright is not a registered sex offender is that he had completed his sentence prior to July 1, 1995, when the registry statute became effective. See Iowa Code § 692A.16(1).

Simply including the residency-restriction statute in the chapter entitled "sex offender registry" does not mean the legislature intended to limit application of that statute to those persons subject to the registry requirements. In fact, it clearly showed a contrary intent. The legislative bill that later became section 692A.2A was originally proposed in the more restrictive form. The original bill provided:

A...

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24 practice notes
  • In re A.M., No. S–10–320.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • May 13, 2011
    ...38. Brown, supra note 37. 39. See, id.; Galindo, supra note 36. 40. Galindo, supra note 36. 41. See, Wright v. Iowa Dept. of Corrections, 747 N.W.2d 213 (Iowa 2008); State v. Williams, 88 Ohio St.3d 513, 728 N.E.2d 342 (2000); Com. v. Mountain, 711 A.2d 473 (Pa.Super.1998); State v. Larson,......
  • In re Interest of T.F., 21-0243
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 11, 2022
    ...re N.V. , 744 N.W.2d 634, 636 (Iowa 2008). Constitutional challenges to a statute are reviewed de novo. Wright v. Iowa Dep't of Corr. , 747 N.W.2d 213, 216 (Iowa 2008).III. Jurisdictional Issues.A. Timeliness of Appeal. The State contends that Father's appeal is untimely. The juvenile court......
  • State v. Mitchell, No. 07-0438.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 14, 2008
    ...This principle requires that `similarly situated persons be treated alike under the 757 N.W.2d 436 law.'" Wright v. Iowa Dep't of Corr., 747 N.W.2d 213, 216 (Iowa 2008) (quoting In re Det. of Williams, 628 N.W.2d 447, 452 (Iowa The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget ......
  • In re T.F., 21-0243
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 11, 2022
    ...In re N.V., 744 N.W.2d 634, 636 (Iowa 2008). Constitutional challenges to a statute are reviewed de novo. Wright v. Iowa Dep't of Corr., 747 N.W.2d 213, 216 (Iowa 2016). 13 III. Jurisdictional Issues. A. Timeliness of Appeal. The State contends that Father's appeal is untimely. The juvenile......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • In re A.M., No. S–10–320.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • May 13, 2011
    ...38. Brown, supra note 37. 39. See, id.; Galindo, supra note 36. 40. Galindo, supra note 36. 41. See, Wright v. Iowa Dept. of Corrections, 747 N.W.2d 213 (Iowa 2008); State v. Williams, 88 Ohio St.3d 513, 728 N.E.2d 342 (2000); Com. v. Mountain, 711 A.2d 473 (Pa.Super.1998); State v. Larson,......
  • In re Interest of T.F., 21-0243
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 11, 2022
    ...re N.V. , 744 N.W.2d 634, 636 (Iowa 2008). Constitutional challenges to a statute are reviewed de novo. Wright v. Iowa Dep't of Corr. , 747 N.W.2d 213, 216 (Iowa 2008).III. Jurisdictional Issues.A. Timeliness of Appeal. The State contends that Father's appeal is untimely. The juvenile court......
  • State v. Mitchell, No. 07-0438.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 14, 2008
    ...This principle requires that `similarly situated persons be treated alike under the 757 N.W.2d 436 law.'" Wright v. Iowa Dep't of Corr., 747 N.W.2d 213, 216 (Iowa 2008) (quoting In re Det. of Williams, 628 N.W.2d 447, 452 (Iowa The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget ......
  • In re T.F., 21-0243
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 11, 2022
    ...In re N.V., 744 N.W.2d 634, 636 (Iowa 2008). Constitutional challenges to a statute are reviewed de novo. Wright v. Iowa Dep't of Corr., 747 N.W.2d 213, 216 (Iowa 2016). 13 III. Jurisdictional Issues. A. Timeliness of Appeal. The State contends that Father's appeal is untimely. The juvenile......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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