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Heilman v. Courtney

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 18, 2017

Donald G. Heilman, Appellant,
v.
Patrick C. Courtney, as Program Manager for Minnesota Department of Corrections, Respondent.

         Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CV-16-4240

          A.L. Brown, Capitol City Law Group, LLC, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Eric V. Brown, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge; Jesson, Judge; and Florey, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         An inmate who enters phase II of the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) has not been "released from prison" for the purpose of commencing a conditional-release term imposed under Minn. Stat. § 169A.276, subd. 1(d) (2016).

          OPINION

          FLOREY, JUDGE.

         Appellant, a former inmate with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), filed a civil suit against respondent, a DOC employee. Appellant alleged that he was incarcerated beyond his lawful sentence because his conditional-release term was miscalculated. The district court granted judgment on the pleadings and dismissed all three of appellant's claims. Appellant challenges the dismissal of two of those claims. Because those claims are premised on the erroneous contention that appellant's conditional-release term commenced when he entered phase II of the CIP, and because appellant was not incarcerated beyond his conditional-release term, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In July 2016, appellant Donald G. Heilman filed a complaint against respondent Patrick C. Courtney, a program manager with the DOC, alleging false imprisonment, negligence, and the right to redress of injuries as provided by the Minnesota Constitution. According to the complaint, appellant was convicted in June 2007 of first-degree test refusal; he received a 51-month sentence with a five-year conditional-release term; he was released from prison in July 2008 to the CIP, triggering the start of his five-year conditional-release term; and his conditional-release term expired in July 2013.

         Appellant alleged that respondent was responsible for calculating his release date. If a person challenged a release date, respondent and those under his charge were responsible for investigating and making necessary corrections. Appellant allegedly informed various prison officials that his scheduled release date was wrong because his conditional-release term "should have expired in July 2013." According to the complaint, appellant "was imprisoned until May 2014-nearly a year beyond his lawful sentence, " because of a miscalculation and failure to conduct an audit of his conditional-release term.

         Respondent moved for judgment on the pleadings. The parties stipulated to the following timeline of events: on September 13, 2004, appellant was convicted of first-degree DWI and received a stayed sentence; on May 22, 2007, the district court ordered that appellant's stayed sentence be executed; on December 5, 2007, appellant was accepted into the CIP; in July 2008, appellant completed phase I of the CIP and entered phase II, which allowed him to reside at home; in September 2009, appellant's CIP status was revoked, and he was returned to incarceration; on December 27, 2010, appellant was released from incarceration and began supervised release; on March 25, 2014, appellant was reincarcerated by the DOC Hearings and Release Unit (HRU); and on May 14, 2014, appellant was released from custody.

         Respondent also filed an affidavit with a number of attachments, including appellant's warrant of commitment, conditions of release, CIP records, and HRU decisions. The district court granted respondent's motion for judgment on the pleadings ...


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