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January 28, 2015
Past Issues

Iowa Lawyer Weekly to feature legislative report

While the General Assembly is in session, The ISBA produces the Legislative Report, a weekly round-up of ISBA legislative positions, information about bar advocacy and legislation of interest. In the past, specific law updates were sent to appropriate section listservs. Now, all members who receive the Iowa Lawyer Weekly will be a click away from reviewing this report in its entirety.

A link to the report, compiled by the ISBA legislative team, can be found here and in the right column of the Iowa Lawyer Weekly webpage, just above the Supreme Court Opinions, while the legislature is in session. Legislative questions can be directed to Jim Carney, Doug Struyk or Jennifer Tyler by dialing 515-282-6803 or by emailing, or

Additionally, as it becomes available, the ISBA will publish the American Bar Association Washington Letter Major Legislation of Interest to Lawyers chart highlighting legislative and executive branch action on policy issues during the 113th Congress. The first issue for the year is the January 2015 chart. This report can be found below the previously mentioned ISBA Legislative Report, located in the right column of the Iowa Lawyer weekly page.

Deadline approaching for mentorship applications

The deadline for The ISBA Young Lawyer Mentorship Program is quickly approaching. Mentor and mentee applications for the YLD-driven mentorship program will be accepted through Feb. 15 for the year-long program set to begin March 15.

The YLD officially launched the ISBA Young Lawyer Mentor Program in early January. Members interested in becoming mentors or mentees should download the mentor or mentee applications online and submit their applications soon to be considered for the 2015-2016 mentorship year.

Once accepted into the program as a mentor or mentee, attorneys will receive additional materials regarding the program which includes a mentor guide, information on mentor training, and a mentor/mentee match. The program commitments are minimal: six hours of contact over the year between mentor and mentee (ideally in-person) with no formal curriculum, although a suggested list of topics and issues is provided.

Who can apply? ISBA members who have been licensed for fewer than five years in the state of Iowa are eligible to be a mentee. To serve as a mentor, attorneys must have been licensed for five years or more in Iowa, have a clean disciplinary record, and carry malpractice insurance (if required). The YLD Mentoring Committee anticipates a high number of mentee applications, and is asking those who are eligible to serve as a mentor to consider joining the program.

More information about the program is available in the December Iowa Lawyer magazine (Pages 8-11). For questions regarding the mentoring program, contact the YLD Mentoring Committee at


Phone scams continue to be serious threat for 2015 filing season

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain near the top of the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2015 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced recently.

The IRS has seen a surge of phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

"If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don't pay immediately, it's a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business."

Protect Yourself
As telephone scams continue across the country, the IRS recently put out a new YouTube video with a renewed warning to taxpayers not to be fooled by imposters posing as tax agency representatives. The new Tax Scams video describes some basic tips to help protect taxpayers from tax scams.

These callers may demand money or may say individuals have a refund due and try to trick victims into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about the victims.

The IRS reminds people that victims can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here is a list of tactics the scammers will often use, but the IRS will not. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

• Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it says you owe.
• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

• If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at
• If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant” at Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to and type "scam” in the search box.

YLD looks to pair lawyers with diverse law students

The ISBA YLD Diversity Committee is seeking lawyer-mentors to connect with diverse law students in Iowa, as part of its Varietas Diversity Mentoring Program, in order to continue to build and strengthen the diversity of the legal profession.

Varietas, which means diversity in Latin, is a mentorship program between law students at Drake University and the University of Iowa and local attorneys and judges with the goal of diversifying Iowa’s legal community. Varietas will target students and mentors from groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession who are committed to diversifying Iowa’s legal community. The program will allow students to select their mentors from a pool of volunteers based on factors important to the student–mentee. The YLD Diversity Committee will host at least one event at each university for the mentors and mentees to meet and network with other lawyers in Iowa who are also committed to diversity in the legal profession. The committee will incorporate professional development activities and workshops into event programs that will focus on how to improve diversity in the legal profession and give law students the opportunity to meet mentors. The programs will provide lawyers with continuing legal education credit.

The purpose of Varietas is to forge strong ties between law students from underrepresented groups in the legal profession and Iowa employers in order to create career opportunities for law students. Ultimately, the Committee hopes the relationships formed between the mentors and mentees will encourage underrepresented law students to seek employment opportunities in Iowa, which will broaden the diversity of the Iowa Bar. The program will also provide attorney–mentors the opportunity to receive education and training on the importance of having a diverse Bar, and encourage law schools to prioritize diversity in the legal profession by assisting the committee in developing a series of professional development workshops for lawyers and law students from underrepresented groups, such as "crash courses” on how to survive and thrive at work, developing resumes, and interview coaching.

The Varietas program is also a part of the American Bar Association’s Next Steps Diversity Challenge, which aims to increase diversity in the pipeline to the legal profession. Those with questions or interest in participating as a mentor to a law student as part of the YLD’s Varietas program are invited to contact Maggie White at

ACLU of Iowa executive director named

The ACLU of Iowa recently announced that Jeremy Rosen of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in Washington, D.C., has been named executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.

Currently the national center's director of advocacy, he will start his new position at the ACLU of Iowa on Feb. 2. His extensive background includes litigation with the ACLU at the state and national level on voting rights, First Amendment issues, and anti-eviction programs for victims of domestic violence.

Rosen also has experience in key elements of the ACLU's work, including policy work at the state legislative and state agency level, public education and communications, and fundraising.

A native of Boston, Rosen received his undergraduate degree with honors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his law degree at The George Washington University Law School.

"I am honored to lead the fifth oldest ACLU affiliate in the country and to continue the organization's vigorous defense of the civil liberties protected by the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions," he said.

Ed Broders, president of the ACLU of Iowa Board of Directors, said, "We are pleased that Mr. Rosen has chosen to bring his considerable talents and passion for civil liberties to the ACLU of Iowa. Under Mr. Rosen's leadership, we expect that the affiliate will continue to grow in its role as the preeminent defender of civil liberties in Iowa.”


In Other News...

Iowa Supreme Court scraps class for new attorneys
Newly licensed Iowa attorneys will no longer have to take a course on Iowa-specific law that was previously required within one year of being admitted to the bar, the Iowa Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday. The so-called basic skills course was designed to give new attorneys a foundation in Iowa-specific law in a variety of areas, including criminal law, civil procedure, family and probate law and ethics. However, the Iowa Supreme Court began reviewing the requirement in response to criticism that the course was time-consuming and unnecessary.
The Des Moines Register

Campaign aims to help unaccompanied immigrant children
The U.S. government defines unaccompanied immigrant children as those younger than 18 with no legal U.S. status and no parent or legal guardian present when immigration authorities apprehended them. Though they have been coming to the United States for decades, there has been a dramatic surge in arrivals since fall 2011. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported encountering 15,701 unaccompanied immigrant children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011, and 67,339 in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014.
The Des Moines Register

Grassley says Congressional hearings possible on Co-Opportunity
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wants details of Co-Opportunity Health's collapse and isn't ruling out congressional hearings. The Iowa Insurance Commissioner, as the court appointed rehabilitator for CoOportunity Health, has determined that rehabilitation of CoOportunity Health is not possible and will ask the court for an order of liquidation. "We’re going to vote for repeal but the president’s going to veto it. So we’re not going to pass it over his veto so there’s not going to be any repeal of it. But we’re going to vote to repeal because that’s what we promised the people in the election. And if you win an election you ought to carry out your promises,” said Grassley
Iowa Public Radio

High court says defendant's good deed didn't sway jury's opinion of codefendant
The Iowa Supreme Court says the good deed of one defendant did not unfairly sway the jury's opinion of his codefendant. During a 2012 medical malpractice trial, defendant Dr. John Sweetman came to the aid of juror who fainted. The anesthesiologist was on the witness stand at the time. The juror was replaced and the trial concluded with both Sweetman and OBGYN Dr. Jennifer Booth, his codefendant, cleared of malpractice. Plaintiff Mary Jack requested and was granted a retrial at the Iowa Court of Appeals. She says when Sweetman helped the stricken juror, he swayed the rest of the jury to view the defense positively.
Iowa Public Radio

Preparing for the worst: Courthouse employees receive training to prevent deaths in shooting scenario
At the Plymouth County Courthouse Friday, county staff and other state employees took part in training designed to save their lives. The program is called ALICE Training. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The purpose of ALICE training is to help prepare someone for the threat of an active shooter and attempt to increase the odds of survival, according to the company website.
LeMars Sentinel

Growing concern over courthouse security in Iowa
State leaders are demanding tighter security at courthouses across the state of Iowa. Last week, Iowa's Chief Justice announced it's a top priority this year. [Video: Shelby County Courthouse security concerns]
KETV Omaha 7


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.


Legislative Report - Jan. 28

ABA Major Legislation for 113th Congress
 January 2015

January 23, 2015

No. 13–0257
, Individually and as Parent and Next Friend of ELLA JACK and OWEN JACK and LAWRENCE LAIRD JACK III, Individually
Appellants vs. JENNIFER R. BOOTH Appellee, JOHN GERRAD SWEETMAN, Appellee.

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Douglas F. Staskal, Judge.

A physician seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing the district court’s judgment and granting a new trial to the plaintiffs after the physician’s codefendant rendered medical assistance to a juror during trial. DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND CASE REMANDED.

No. 13–0738

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, James S. Heckerman, Judge.

Defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his convictions for assault with intent to inflict serious injury and willful injury. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued orders granting or denying applications for further review in 34 cases.




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