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    January 27, 2016
Past Issues   

ISBA to establish succession planning study committee

The ISBA is forming a study committee focused on the implementation of Iowa Rule 39.18 that requires attorneys to have a succession plan in place no later than Jan. 1, 2017. The study committee, chaired by ISBA Immediate Past President Joe Feller, hopes to address some of the concerns stemming from the rule.


The rule could affect more than just solo practitioners, according to Feller. After the rule was passed late last year, the ISBA and the Iowa Academy of Trust and Estate Counsel began preparing forms to help members satisfy rule requirements. When it became apparent that the rule was going to need a closer look, ISBA President Bruce Walker proposed the establishment of a study committee and charged it to research the implementation of the rule and how it is to be interpreted.


"The rule applies to many more lawyers than just the traditional sole practitioner and could impact 60 percent of our bar members,” said Feller, a solo practitioner from Sibley, Iowa. "Application of the rule as currently drafted will also lead to important issues concerning liabilities undertaken by the assisting attorneys as well as financial costs to the estate of the deceased or disabled attorney.”


The committee would aim to have its work completed in September of this year with a goal of helping members meet requirements of the rule as currently drafted, or by suggesting changes to the rule.


The following ISBA members will be a part of the study committee:

• Chair: Joe Feller, Sibley

• David Beckman, Burlington

• John (Rick) Bierman, III, Grinnell

• Philip Brooks, Cedar Rapids

• Nick Critelli, Jr., Des Moines

• Joe Holland, Iowa City

• Frank Hoyt, Jr., West Des Moines

• Kate Kohorst, Harlan

• Michel Nelson, Carroll

• Deb Petersen, Council Bluffs

• Paul Wieck, II, Clive


The ISBA will share updates regarding the study committee as they become available.

Nominees sought for grievance commission, disciplinary board

Under the authority of Iowa Court Rules 35.1 and 35.2, the Iowa Supreme Court has asked the ISBA, as one of several lawyer organizations in the state, to provide nominees for its Attorney Disciplinary Board and Grievance Commission. The nominees are needed to fill vacancies for terms beginning July 1.


Two lawyer positions are open on the disciplinary board and a number of positions are open on the grievance commission. Grievance commission vacancies exist in judicial election subdistricts 1A, 1B, 2A, 5A, 5B, 5C and 6. See specific gender balance requirements for the positions here.


To be considered for nomination, please complete and submit the ISBA nominations online form. Alternatively, you can email the information, using the online form as a guide, to Be sure to put "Board/Commission Nominee” in the subject line.


All nominations must reach the ISBA office by Friday, Feb. 12. President-elect Arnold "Skip” Kenyon, III, and bar leadership will review the nominations and submit them to the court.


Supreme Court adopts proposed changes to professional regulation

The Iowa Supreme Court yesterday adopted the proposed recompilation and amendment of chapters 34, 35 and 36 in Division III of the Iowa Court Rules governing professional regulation. However, the court reserved for further consideration, and did not currently adopt, proposed Rule 34.11, which would explicitly exempt disciplinary proceedings from all statutes of limitation. The changes take effect April 1.


The court’s action comes after consideration of public comments on the three chapters. Public comments were requested in a supreme court order filed Sept. 4.


The recompilation makes the procedure rules easier to use and includes only a few substantive changes. Amendments to Chapter 34 consolidate general administrative provisions, such as rules creating the disciplinary board and the grievance commission. Amendments to chapters 35 and 36 consolidate the rules governing procedure before the Attorney Disciplinary Board (35) and before the Grievance Commission (36).


To see a summary of the amendments to the three chapters, read the complete order here. Read the full amended chapters at this link.

January/February Iowa Lawyer Magazine now available online

The January/February issue of the Iowa Lawyer Magazine is now available online. In this issue, ISBA's legislative team outlines this year's legislative session, and one of the ISBA's lawyer-legislators is featured for being elected as the Iowa House Majority Leader. Also, don't miss the interesting articles on wrongful conviction and trial advocacy in Mexico.


Members can view the digital version of the magazine by clicking here or by navigating to, clicking on "Publications,” then "Iowa Lawyer Magazine.” Those who no longer wish to receive the printed version of the magazine can elect to receive it electronically by navigating to their ISBA account settings and selecting "yes” for the "Iowa Lawyer Magazine Online” option.


The Iowa Lawyer is free online or in print to ISBA members as part of their annual dues. The magazine informs members on issues, events and developments in the law specific to Iowa that impact their practices and their lives as attorneys. Members are encouraged to submit articles and manuscripts for publication in the magazine. Contact the communications team to discuss options and deadlines. 

Questions regarding the Iowa Lawyer Magazine can be directed to the ISBA Communications Department at or 515-697-7898.

Iowa courthouse photobook available for purchase

Early last spring, authors of Prairie Jewels – Iowa’s Courthouses were crowd-sourcing their 207-page photobook. Their Kickstarter campaign, which required $5,000 worth of pledges before the project could be funded, received an overwhelming number of responses, and the book recently went to print.


The book, a compilation Iowa’s 100 courthouses in panoramic images and researched narratives, is now available for online order through the website


"Neither of us had used Kickstarter before,” said Michael Adams, one of the book’s authors. "We read that only 10 percent of projects actually get funded before the end of the campaign. We watched everyday as totals grew until we actually met our goal. It was exciting.”


As the authors checked their Kickstarter app, they were thrilled that just a week before the campaign was to end, they had reached their goal. The campaign closed with more than $6,000 in pledges. Getting the word out made a big impact, Adams said. He reported that 40-50 percent support came from attorneys alone.


The authors are appreciative of the support the campaign received. Adams has been a writer, photographer, speechwriter and editor during a rewarding career in journalism, public relations and marketing, and David Richmond, the originator of the book idea, is a professor of art at Simpson College and has enjoyed wide-ranging experiences in graphic design, photography and visual storytelling over his 30-year professional career.


In Other News ...

Iowa county budgets for courthouse security guard after 2014 shooting

An Iowa county has already made security upgrades to its courthouse, but now, it'll have to budget for a new security guard. This all comes after Former City Manager Gus Glaser opened fire during a meeting back in September of 2014.  Since then, the county has decreased the number of entrances inside the building. It also added an outdoor drop box so there is less traffic inside. A judge also mandated that an armed security guard be present, but the county didn't budget for that.

KWWL Channel 7


First bill to pass Iowa Senate in 2016 deals with Meskwaki’s judicial power

The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that calls on congress to give more judicial power to the Meskwaki tribe on its settlement near Tama. "Since the passage of the 1948 law that tribe has established its own police force. All their law enforcement officers are trained at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy,” said Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center who is also a deputy sheriff. "A tribal court has been established and all the judges of the tribal court are law trained.”

Radio Iowa


LSAT profiles of current law students signal more troubles ahead; has low point been reached?

The decline in bar-exam scores and bar-pass rates is likely to continue through 2018, given the LSAT profiles of current law students, according to a law professor who has examined the data. However, a turnaround could be ahead for those graduating after that date, says Jerry Organ, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. Organ looks at the latest LSAT data and draws his conclusions in a post at the Legal Whiteboard.

ABA Journal 


Iowa ahead of Supreme Court ruling on life sentences for juveniles

Don't expect the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Monday that grants hundreds of prisoners convicted of murder as juveniles the chance of parole to have a big impact in Iowa. The reason: Iowa has already reversed course and abandoned mandatory sentencing for youth. "I don’t think the decision affects us at all,” said Kevin Cmelik, director of the criminal appeals division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office. "We are already resentencing juvenile offenders.”

Des Moines Register


A judge's guidance makes jurors suspicious of any eyewitness

The state of New Jersey has been trying to help jurors better assess the reliability of eyewitness testimony, but a recent study suggests that the effort may be having unintended consequences. That's because a new set of instructions read to jurors by a judge seems to make them skeptical of all eyewitness testimony — even testimony that should be considered reasonably reliable.

Iowa Public Radio


The Iowa Lawyer Weekly is an electronic newsletter published every Wednesday. Please submit comments, letters to the editor, articles, or photos, to Contact information should be included with submissions. The ISBA reserves the right to refuse any submission but will take all submissions into consideration for future publication.

Jan. 22

No. 14–0256

The State seeks further review of a decision of the court of appeals reversing the defendant’s second-degree murder conviction for insufficient evidence. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED;



No. 14–0399

A challenge to the timeliness of an appeal from a ruling and order by the district court dismissing a case for lack of jurisdiction. APPEAL DISMISSED.


No. 14–0691
DARLA LEGG and JASON T. LEGG, on Behalf of Themselves and All Persons Similarly Situated vs. WEST BANK

Defendant moves for interlocutory appeal from a district court ruling certifying class action status. DECISION OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.


No. 14–0692
DARLA LEGG and JASON T. LEGG, on Behalf of Themselves and All Persons Similarly Situated vs. WEST BANK

Defendant applied for interlocutory appeal from a district court ruling denying its two motions for summary judgment. DECISION OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.


No. 14–1557
DEBORAH E. McFADDEN, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Charles Walter McFadden, Jr., Deceased vs. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, STATE OF IOWA

A surviving spouse who is the administrator of her deceased husband’s estate seeks further review after the district court and court of appeals both concluded she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under the Iowa Tort Claims Act before filing a wrongful-death lawsuit. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND REMANDED.


No. 14–2006

A lessee appeals a district court ruling on the validity of an agricultural lease under the Iowa Constitution. AFFIRMED.


No. 14-2114

A defendant appeals a district court decision denying his request for an ex parte hearing to determine whether he is entitled to appointment of a private investigator at state expense. REVERSED AND



The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued orders granting or denying application for further review in 39 cases.




The following individuals applied for admission on motion to the Iowa Bar:

  • Valerie Therese Herring, Briggs and Morgan, Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Brent Christopher Kleffman, Peterson, Logren & Kilbury, St. Paul, Minnesota

Anyone with questions or comments on the above applicants should contact: Dave Ewert at the Office of Professional Regulation, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319; Phone: 515-725-8029.


It is vital that firms have Professional Liability coverage in place. Not having coverage can put a firm at risk. That’s why The Iowa State Bar Association partnered with Lockton Risk Services to develop the ISBA Insurance Program. Developed under the guidance of ISBA, the program offers the professional liability coverage Iowa law firms need to protect their practices at competitive rates that may not be available anywhere else.

Click here to get started!

See more ISBA member benefits here


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