CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS MARCH 19, 2018
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT HUGHES
COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE MARK BARNETT Judge
L. ADAMSKI Pierre, South Dakota STEVEN Z. KAPLAN of
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. Minneapolis, Minnesota Attorneys
J. JACKLEY Attorney General ASHLEY E.H. MCDONALD Special
Assistant Attorney General Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Attorneys for appellee.
The South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles adjudicated a
prison inmate's initial parole-eligibility date, and the
inmate did not appeal. Two years later, the inmate requested
the Board to reconsider. The Board declined, and the inmate
filed an administrative appeal in circuit court. The circuit
court concluded it lacked subject matter jurisdiction and
dismissed the appeal with prejudice. We affirm.
and Procedural History
Mary Petersen is an inmate in the South Dakota Women's
Prison. After being convicted of additional felonies while in
prison, the Board of Pardons and Paroles redetermined her
initial parole-eligibility date. Petersen requested the Board
to review its redetermination, and the Board conducted a
hearing on the matter. On February 17, 2015, the Board made
its final determination and issued findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and an order setting Petersen's
initial parole-eligibility date as October 20, 2037. Petersen
was served with the findings, conclusions, order, and notice
of entry of order. She did not appeal.
Two years later, on February 2, 2017, Petersen's attorney
wrote a letter requesting the Board to review her parole date
again. The Board summarily denied the request by letter dated
February 22, 2017.
On March 10, 2017, Petersen filed a notice of appeal in
circuit court. The appeal purported to be taken from the
Board's 2017 letter declining review. Petersen asserted
the circuit court had appellate jurisdiction to entertain the
appeal under SDCL 1-26-30.2, an Administrative Procedure Act
statute authorizing circuit courts to review certain
decisions of administrative agencies.
The Board moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. The Board contended its 2017 letter
declining to review Petersen's parole date a second time
was not a decision that could be appealed under SDCL
1-26-30.2. Petersen made responsive arguments and also moved
to amend her notice of appeal to include original causes of
action for habeas corpus and declaratory relief.
The circuit court ruled that the Board's 2017 letter was
not an appealable "decision, order, or action"
within the meaning of SDCL 1-26-30.2. The court considered
Petersen's 2017 letter an untimely appeal of the
Board's 2015 decision. Accordingly, the court ruled that
it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to review the
Board's final parole determination, and the court
dismissed the appeal with prejudice. Because the court
determined that it did not have the power to act beyond
dismissal, the court declined to rule on Petersen's
motion to amend.
The Legislature has prescribed the circuit courts'
appellate jurisdiction to consider appeals of administrative
agency decisions. Under SDCL chapter 1-26, an aggrieved party
in a "contested case" may appeal to circuit court
the "final decision, ruling, or action of an
agency." SDCL 1-26-30, -30.2. Petersen contends the
Board's 2017 letter was a "final decision"
within the meaning of SDCL 1-26-30.2. However, we need not
determine whether the Board's letter was a "final
decision" because ...