This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




John R. Chambers,



State of Minnesota,


Filed October 20, 1998


Toussaint, Chief Judge

Washington County District Court

File No. C6-98-3

John R. Chambers, 5329 Osgood Avenue North, #161941, Stillwater, MN 55082 (Pro se appellant)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Mark B. Levinger, Assistant Attorney General, 1100 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.*


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

Appellant John R. Chambers filed a petition for habeas corpus, alleging that deductions taken from his prison wages constituted an increase of his sentence in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause and that being forced to work for private industry constitutes involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Chambers argues the district court abused its discretion when it dismissed his petition as frivolous and without basis in law or fact. We affirm.


"[T]he function of the writ of habeas corpus is to relieve one from unlawful restraint." State ex. rel. Bassett v. Tahash, 263 Minn. 447, 448, 116 N.W.2d 564, 565 (1962). Generally, the only questions reviewable on habeas corpus following entry of judgment are

whether the court had jurisdiction of the subject matter and the person; whether the judgment was authorized by law; and whether the relator was denied fundamental, constitutional rights.

State ex. rel. Hartmann v. Lund, 277 Minn. 398, 410, 152 N.W.2d 514, 523 (1967). When judgment is imposed by a court of record having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the person, "the writ reaches only those defects, which appear on the face of the proceedings." Id.

Chambers argues that being required to work for private industry constitutes involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment and that the deductions taken from his wages for the costs of his incarceration violates the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

On two occasions, the Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected similar challenges to the constitutionality of the prison wage deduction statute under the postconviction statute. In Rainer v. State, 566 N.W.2d 692 (Minn. 1997), an inmate challenged the constitutionality of deductions taken from his prison wages for the cost of his confinement by bringing a petition for postconviction relief. The court held that "[b]ecause the constitutionality of the wage withholding policy is an issue completely separate from [the inmate's] conviction or sentence, it is improperly brought as a basis for postconviction relief" (citation omitted). Id. at 696. Further, the court declined to review the inmate's claim that the wage withholding violated the Double Jeopardy Clause, the Ex Post Facto Clause, and his rights to due process and equal protection. In Sutherlin v. State, 574 N.W.2d 428 (Minn. 1998), the supreme court refused to rule on an inmate's claim that the garnishment of prison wages to pay for the costs of confinement violated his right to be free from slavery under the Thirteenth Amendment. Relying on Rainer, the court held that the inmate's claim was not an appropriate basis for postconviction relief because it was "completely separate from his conviction or sentence." Id. at 436.

Here, Chambers does not allege that the district court lacked jurisdiction over him or the subject matter when it convicted him, his sentence was not authorized by law, or that he was denied any fundamental constitutional rights during his trial.[1] Also, as the district court noted, the constitutionality of the work requirement and the deduction from his wages for the costs of his confinement are completely separate from Chamber's conviction and sentence. Thus, drawing from the rationale in Rainer and Sutherlin, and in light of the standard used to review habeas corpus petitions, we conclude that the claims asserted by Chambers are inappropriately brought as a basis for habeas corpus relief.

Chambers insists that the district court's decision deprives him of any redress for his claims because he has no other avenue by which he can assert his claims. Chambers argues that the only method of review for his claims is under Minnesota's habeas corpus statute, Minn. Stat. chapter 589. This court has ruled that Chambers may not bring his claims under the postconviction statute, Minn. Stat. chapter 590. See Chambers v. State, No. C3-97-924, 1997 WL 585789 at *1 (Minn. App. Sept. 23, 1997) ("Postconviction relief is not available as a remedy for these claims.")

Chambers incorrectly asserts that the Eighth Circuit ruled in Hodgson v. Wood, 107 F.3d 875, 1997 WL 94704, *1 (8th Cir. 1997) that inmates may not challenge the constitutionality of Minnesota's wage withholding policy or work requirement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Hodgson, an inmate brought suit under section 1983, alleging that Minnesota's deductions from his interstate work assignment wages for the costs of his confinement deprived him of due process, equal protection, and increased his sentence in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. 1997 WL 94704 at *1. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against the inmate based on the merits of the case. Id. at *2.

Contrary to Chambers's assertion, the Eighth Circuit did not hold that claims such as his cannot be brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Chamber has a venue to his claims.


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

[1] Chambers's conviction was affirmed by this court in State v. Chambers, No. C3-92-2279 (Minn. App. Aug. 3, 1993), and the supreme court in State v. Chambers, 507 N.W.2d 237 (Minn. 1993).