This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Mario P. Moreno, petitioner,





State of Minnesota,



Filed April 5, 2005


Lansing, Judge


Brown County District Court

File No. K6-98-23



John Stuart, State Public Defender, Richard Schmitz, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and


James R. Olson, Brown County Attorney, John L.R. Yost, Assistant County Attorney, P.O. Box 428, New Ulm, MN 56073 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            In this appeal from a district court order denying Mario Moreno’s petition for postconviction relief, Moreno challenges deductions made by the Department of Corrections from his wages to pay a court-imposed fine.  Because a postconviction-remedy proceeding does not extend to challenges to conditions of confinement, we affirm the district court’s order.


Following Mario Moreno’s plea of guilty to second-degree controlled-substance crime, the Brown County District Court sentenced Moreno in October 1998 to 48 months in prison, a $15,000 fine, a $3,000 surcharge, and $600 in restitution.  Moreno served his prison sentence, and it expired in October 2002.

After the Brown County offense, Moreno was convicted of a first-degree controlled-substance crime, and Dakota County District Court sentenced Moreno in July 2001 to ninety-five months in prison, a $90 fine, and $100 in restitution.  Moreno is currently serving this sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault.  Moreno works in prison as part of a hazardous-waste clean-up crew and as a peer educator.  He receives wages of about $160 a month.  The Department of Corrections (DOC) deducts half of his wages to pay the $15,000 fine arising from Moreno’s Brown County conviction.

Moreno filed a petition for postconviction relief in Brown County in February 2004, arguing that the DOC lacked authority to deduct from his wages to pay the fine on the Brown County sentence.  Moreno requested a district court order directing the DOC to cease wage deductions.  The state moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that claims relating to inmate wages do not arise from judgment of conviction and that Moreno’s claim was therefore not properly before the district court on Moreno’s postconviction petition.

The district court denied the motion to dismiss and also denied the postconviction petition.  The court held that under Minn. Stat. § 243.23, subd. 3(9) (2002), the DOC has authority to deduct from inmate wages for “payment of fines . . . ordered by a [c]ourt.”  Moreno appeals from the denial of his postconviction petition.


We review the decision of the postconviction court for an abuse of discretion.  State v. Doppler, 590 N.W.2d 627, 632-33 (Minn. 1999).  We examine factual issues to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the postconviction court’s findings.  Butala v. State, 664 N.W.2d 333, 338 (Minn. 2003).  On issues of law, we exercise de novo review.  Id.  Jurisdiction is a question of law.  See State v. Busse, 644 N.W.2d 79, 82 (Minn. 2002) (observing that issue of whether state has jurisdiction over Native-American defendant is subject to de novo review).

Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1 (2002), provides that a person convicted of a crime who claims that the conviction or sentence violated the person’s constitutional rights may file a petition in the district court to vacate the judgment of conviction, correct the sentence, grant a new trial, or “make other disposition as may be appropriate.”  The legislature enacted the statute to provide a postconviction remedy by which a petitioner may attack the judgment of conviction.  Thompson v. State,284 Minn. 274, 277-78, 170 N.W.2d 101, 104 (1969).

Moreno argues that the district court properly asserted jurisdiction over his claim because fines are a direct consequence of a conviction.  See Alanis v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 578 (Minn. 1998) (stating imposition of fine is direct consequence of plea and is properly before postconviction court when defendant requests leave to withdraw inaccurate plea).  But unlike the petitioner in Alanis, Moreno did not challenge the judgment of conviction nor did he challenge the district court’s imposition of the fine as part of his sentence.  Rather, Moreno challenged the DOC’s authority to collect wages for payment of the $15,000 fine.  He contended, based on an argument of statutory construction, that Minn. Stat. § 243.23, subd. 3 (2002), does not grant authority to the DOC to collect wages for payment of a fine arising from a sentence that had expired.

Challenges related to conditions of confinement are not properly before the district court as a basis for postconviction relief.  Sutherlin v. State, 574 N.W.2d 428, 435-36 (Minn. 1998) (declining, in postconviction setting, to address issue of whether DOC has authority to deduct from inmate wages to pay room-and-board fees) (quoting Rainer v. State, 566 N.W.2d 692, 696 (Minn. 1997)).  Moreno’s challenge, like the challenge in Sutherlin, involves the DOC’s statutory authority to manage correctional facilities.  It is not a challenge to the judgment of conviction or the sentence imposed by the district court.  Cf. State v. Rewitzer, 617 N.W.2d 407, 412 (Minn. 2000) (reviewing, in postconviction setting, whether fines and surcharges totaling $273,600 were unconstitutionally excessive); Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 693 (Minn. 1997) (holding, in postconviction setting, sentencing judge need not find petitioner has ability to pay before imposing fine as part of petitioner’s sentence).

Because Moreno’s challenge related to a condition of his confinement and was not a challenge to the judgment of conviction or the imposed sentence, the postconviction court did not have jurisdiction to consider Moreno’s unauthorized-deduction claim.  We therefore affirm the district court’s order based on the alternative grounds of lack of jurisdiction to grant the relief requested.

Moreno submitted a supplemental pro se brief.  Because it raises the same arguments presented by his attorney in the main brief, we do not consider it separately.