Iowa Lawyer Weekly (12/16/2015)
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    December 16, 2015
Past Issues   

A ruling every Iowa lawyer must commit to memory filed Dec. 11

Last Friday, in a case of first impression, the Iowa Supreme Court clarified how current EDMS rules impact appellate procedure. In a 5-2 vote, the court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and effectively concluded that EDMS rule 16.311 trumps 16.307(2) insofar as it relates to a determination of the timeliness of the filing of appeals in Iowa.


More specifically, in Concerned Citizens of Southeast Polk School District and Jessman Smith v. City Development Board of the State of Iowa, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a court order is "filed” when the judge submits it to the court’s electronic document management system (and thus when the system stamps it with the date), and not when the clerk approves and notifies the parties of that order. That ruling clarifies an ambiguity in the Iowa rules that govern electronic filing.


"This is a ruling that every Iowa lawyer must commit to memory, because it can have significant consequences,” said ISBA Board of Governor Ryan Koopmans, from District 5C. "It’s not uncommon for attorneys to receive notification of a court order one or two days after the district court submitted that order into the system. So it’s important that attorneys check the file stamp on that order. An appeal that’s filed more than 30 days after that date (but 30 days or less after receiving the notification) will be untimely. And it will be dismissed.” 


To read the court’s opinion, click here. To read information regarding the Iowa Supreme Court’s request for comments on proposed amendments to EDMS rules, click here. Comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m., Feb. 1, 2016. 


Special thanks to Ryan Koopmans for permission to use excerpts from his Dec. 11, blog post, "When is a court order electronically filed?” To read Koopmans’ analysis of the ruling, click here.

Last call for this Friday’s Federal Practice Seminar

The ISBA’s annual Federal Practice Seminar, which will be held this Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 101 East Locust St., in Des Moines, Iowa, "promises to be one of the strongest” in recent years, according to Tim Hill, chair of the Federal Practice Committee.


"Not only do we have strong participation from the federal bench of both the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa, but also Judge Robert Pratt will moderate a panel of former jurors, Judge Leonard Strand will be the lunch speaker, and former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit will lead a panel on ethics,” he says. Judge Strand is currently pending confirmation to be the next Northern District Iowa Article III Judge.


Dahlia Lithwick, U.S. Supreme Court reporter for Slate Magazine, is the keynote speaker. (Her recent articles can be seen here.) Anne Kershaw, e-discovery expert, will moderate the magistrate judges’ panel focusing on the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that were effective Dec. 1, and lead the civil law breakout session. Finally, the Criminal Law Panel is "extremely strong” and includes C.J. Williams, who is set to become the new magistrate judge for the Northern District of Iowa upon Judge Strand’s confirmation, Hill says.


"Even if your practice is primarily in state court, you are bound to gain great insights attending this year’s Federal Practice Seminar,” he adds.


Registration deadline is this Thursday, Dec. 17. A $50 late fee will be added for registrations after Thursday. Click here to register and view the complete agenda.

Archived listserv discussions for probate, real estate now available to all members

All ISBA members now have access to the archived items discussed in the listservs of the Probate, Trust and Estate Planning and the Real Estate and Title Law Sections even if they are not members of those sections.


Access to the archives enables members to benefit from the information shared in the listservs. However, only members who have paid their section dues are able to pose questions and respond to questions on the listservs.


To access the listserv archives for the Probate, Trust and Estate Planning Section, click here. To access the listserv archives for the Real Estate and Title Law Section, click here.


ISBA YLD and Corporate Counsel Section celebrate 2015 networking event

The ISBA YLD in conjunction with the ISBA Corporate Counsel Section convened for an evening of socializing and networking Dec. 14, at Django Restaurant in Des Moines. As they celebrated 2015, members of the YLD and Corporate Counsel Section looked forward to connecting with peers at bi-monthly luncheons and networking events in 2016.


ISBA Corporate Counsel Section Chair Nicolle Schippers and Vice Chair Charlie Nichols (pictured), who is also ISBA General Practice Section Chair, invite interested individuals to join them at events in 2016.


The chairs welcome inquiries about leadership opportunities available for relatively reasonable time commitments. Interested individuals may contact chair Nicolle Schippers via email at or chair Charlie Nichols at

Drake Law School’s arbitration team wins regional competition, headed to nationals

Two student arbitration teams from Drake University Law School ended up competing against each other for the top spot in the regional American Bar Association Law Student Division Arbitration Competition.


The competition, which was hosted at the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta last month, simulates a realistic arbitration hearing. Participants must prepare and present an arbitration case, including opening statements, witness examinations, exhibit introductions, evidentiary presentations, and summations.


Both Drake teams head to Chicago for the national finals on Jan. 22-23.


For more information, including the names of the students on the teams, click here.

Court of Appeals seeks three staff attorneys

The Iowa Court of Appeals is seeking candidates for three appellate court staff attorney positions. While the positions will remain open until filled, first consideration will be given to those who apply by close of business this Friday, Dec. 18.


Successful candidates will assist one or more judges of the court of appeals in several areas, including by researching issues and preparing memoranda or drafting proposed opinions, by reviewing and editing final opinions prior to filing, by attending oral arguments and providing input, and by assisting with the preparation of special concurrences or dissents. A complete list of the duties is available on the judicial branch website here.


To be considered, candidates must have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school with strong academic credentials, be admitted to the practice of law in Iowa and have a minimum of two years post-graduation legal experience. Details on how to apply can be found at this link. The application form in Word format or PDF can be accessed here.


In Other News ...

Jones: Iowa’s public defender system serves defendants well
It is not the plain language of the U.S. Constitution that provides the protections of the Bill of Rights. The interpretation, enforcement and resources aimed at protecting the rights by our national and state governments are what make constitutional protections work. Christopher Welch, a Dubuque public defender, visited my class at University of Wisconsin-Platteville this semester. He taught us about how Iowa has made an effort to enforce the Sixth Amendment right to an attorney in its citizens' criminal cases.

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Iowa high court ruling limits warrantless vehicle searches
An Iowa Supreme Court ruling could curb the ability of state police agencies to seize cash and property from motorists. The Des Moines Register reports that Friday’s 5-2 decision from the Iowa Supreme Court will limit the ability of state patrol troopers and deputies to conduct warrantless vehicle searches.

Omaha World-Herald

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid assess Iowa’s readiness for Medicaid privatization
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in Iowa this week assessing the state’s readiness to transition the management of Iowa’s Medicaid program into the hands of four private companies on Jan. 1. Critics say the process has been unorganized and rushed, and many Medicaid recipients complain they don’t have enough information to determine which, if any, of the Managed Care Organizations best fits their coverage needs.

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.

December 11

No. 13-1883


On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Ian K. Thornhill, Judge.

Plaintiff seeks a new trial based on an allegedly inconsistent and inadequate jury verdict awarding medical specials but only one dollar for pain and suffering for injuries suffered in a car accident. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED; CASE REMANDED FOR NEW TRIAL ON DAMAGES.


No. 14-0029


On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Randy DeGeest and Joel D. Yates, Judges.

A claimant in a forfeiture proceeding seeks further review of a court of appeals decision upholding the denial of his motion to suppress. DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED.


No. 14-1317


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Dennis J. Stovall, Judge.

A challenge to the timeliness of appeal from an order by the district court affirming annexation of land by a city. APPEAL DISMISSED



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