This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).







Sanford Allan Smeby, petitioner,





Robert Feneis, Warden,

Minnesota Correctional Facility at Lino Lakes,




Filed May 23, 2000


Toussaint, Chief Judge


Anoka County District Court



Sanford Allan Smeby, #201765, 7525 Fourth Avenue, Lino Lakes, MN 55014 (pro se appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Kari Jo Ferguson, Assistant Attorney General, 1100 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2128; and


Robert M. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, Anoka County Courthouse, 325 E. Main Street, Anoka, MN 55303  (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Willis, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

In this appeal from an order of the district court, appellant Sanford Smeby challenges the addition of disciplinary confinement time to his period of incarceration as a sanction for his refusals to participate in mandated chemical dependency treatment. Appellant contends he was denied due process in the disciplinary hearings and that neither the warden nor the district court conducted proper reviews of the disciplinary decisions.  Because the evidence supports the disciplinary decisions and appellant’s due process rights were not violated, we affirm.



            Respondent first contends that appellant should have petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus because he was seeking relief from imprisonment or restraint.  Pro se petitions for relief that are in the nature of a writ of habeas corpus may be reviewed on the merits despite procedural defects, to avoid the necessity of reviewing the claim on a later application for habeas corpus.  State ex rel. Schwirtz v. Tahash, 273 Minn. 380, 382, 141 N.W.2d 811, 813 (1966).

            A writ of habeas corpus is a statutory remedy available “to obtain relief from imprisonment or restraint.”  Minn. Stat. § 589.01 (1998); State ex rel. Bassett v. Tahash, 263 Minn. 447, 448, 116 N.W.2d 564, 565 (1962).  An appellate court will review questions of law de novo.  State ex rel. Morrow v. LaFleur, 590 N.W.2d 787, 791 (Minn. 1999) cert. denied, 120 S.Ct. 517 (1999).  The petitioner has the burden to show that he was confined in violation of fundamental constitutional rights.  Case v. Pung, 413 N.W.2d 261, 262 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Nov. 24, 1987).

            The Commissioner of Corrections has express statutory authority to mandate rehabilitative programming, such as chemical dependency treatment.  See Minn. Stat. § 244.03 (1998).  This includes the authority to discipline inmates for failing to comply with mandated programming directives.  Id., § 244.05, subd. 1b(b)(1998).  An inmate is entitled to due process when facing disciplinary proceedings, although not the full panoply of rights due defendants in criminal proceedings.  Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2975 (1974).

After appellant refused mandated chemical dependency treatment on two occasions, the disciplinary unit issued notices of violation.  Appellant exercised his right to a disciplinary hearing each time, and he was found guilty of refusing mandated treatment, receiving 60 additional days of confinement time for the first refusal, and 90 additional days for the second.  He appealed both decisions to the warden, who reviewed them and denied relief.  The district court likewise denied relief.

            Appellant contends the disciplinary hearings violated his right to due process.  Our review shows that appellant received all the process that was due.  See Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564-66, 94 S. Ct. at 2979 (holding inmate facing disciplinary sanction in prison must receive advance written notice of charges, opportunity to defend, and written statement from fact-finder explaining decision).

            Appellant next claims that the warden merely “rubber stamped” the disciplinary decisions when he reviewed them.  The argument has no merit, the warden sent appellant two memos explaining the reasoning for his decision.  Finally, appellant argues the district court erred because it did not issue an appropriate order and did not include any findings of fact or conclusions of law.  If an appellate court can review an appeal adequately as a matter of law, as we do here, the district court’s failure to make findings is not error.  See Scruggs v. State, 484 N.W.2d 21, 25 (Minn. 1992) (holding, in postconviction-relief appeal, that lack of findings does not require reversal or remand when it is clear district court will be affirmed).




* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.