Iowa Lawyer Weekly (01/07/2015)
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January 7, 2015
Past Issues

ISBA’s position on Access to Justice sent to Iowa Supreme Court

After nearly three months of discussion and debate, President Joe Feller filed the ISBA’s official position on access to justice funding to the Iowa Supreme Court Dec. 29. The submission included a brief letter from Feller on behalf of the ISBA, the motion adopted by the ISBA Board of Governors Dec. 8 and results from the late-November ISBA Access to Justice survey.

The official ISBA position submitted to the Iowa Supreme Court can be viewed here.

In October 2014, the Iowa Supreme Court filed an order requesting public comment on access to justice funding recommendations. In addition to the ISBA Access to Justice Committee’s proposed pro hac vice fee, the court included other proposals in its request for comment. One of which included an Iowa Legal Aid proposal to adopt a mandatory $100 annual fee for attorneys.

All supporting documents regarding the request for comments are available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website here. The period for comments closed Monday, Jan. 5.

Art Neu leaves behind a legacy

Former Iowa Lt. Gov. Arthur Neu died Friday, Jan. 2, at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines at age 81, leaving behind a legacy of public service.

Most notably, Neu served as lieutenant governor of Iowa from 1973-79 under Gov. Robert Ray. He also served in the Iowa Senate from 1967-72, on the Iowa Board of Regents from 1979-85 and was mayor of Carroll from 1982-85. In addition to his public service, Neu was an active member of the ISBA up until his death. He was a Foundation Fellow, former foundation board member, Administrative Law Section council member and member of the Probate, Trust & Estate Planning Law Section.

"Art Neu was a great ambassador for our state and profession in so many ways,” said David L. Brown, ISBA ABA delegate. "He made us all better lawyers and better people in all ways, always. We have been blessed to have Art with us as a valued member of our family and legal community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, firm and his many dear friends.”

The funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Carroll Recreation Center Auditorium. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund was established in Art’s name. Memorials may be left at the Dahn & Woodhouse Funeral Home or at the service.


Rural Practice Committee’s meet and greet event to be held Jan. 9

An estimated 18 attorneys and at least that many students will participate in the ISBA Rural Practice Committee’s first "meet and greet” event on Friday, Jan. 9. The event will provide an opportunity for rural practitioners who are interested in hiring a clerk for the summer, or a full-time associate, to interview a number of interested students at the bar headquarters in Des Moines.

The format will allow all students to meet with all attorneys for a brief meet and greet, although organizers plan to do some preliminary matching of students with attorneys based on the areas of the state the students have designated they’d like to work in.

The meet and greet portion of the event will run from 2 – 4 p.m., with a reception following. The reception will allow attorneys to follow up with students they are interested in visiting with further. The same will be true for students who want to follow up with attorneys.

More information about the committee’s summer clerkship program can be found on the Rural Practice Committee’s page on The ISBA website. Go to "Committees” under "Member Groups” at the top of the home page, then scroll down to "Rural Practice Committee” in the drop down menu, or click here.

Military service out in custody battles

Reprinted with permission from the National Guard Association of the United States

A court cannot consider a parent's military service in a child-custody fight, according to the defense authorization bill now awaiting the president's signature. The legislation in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act was sponsored by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who said the law is "common sense," according to a report in Military Times.

Turner, who has been trying for eight years to get this law passed, said judges too often have considered the uncertainty of military service when deciding custody cases.

"In the end, this is about making sure that [troops] don't serve at the expense of their families," he said. "They deserve to be protected."

The law prevents any child custody agreements from being altered during a parent's deployment, and any pre-deployment arrangements will remain unchanged when the deployment ends.

Military Times highlighted the case of Eva Slusher, who returned from a deployment in 2004 to learn that she'd lost custody of her 10-year-old daughter. A judge had cited the Kentucky National Guard member's service as a main cause for taking her child from her.

"I didn't realize there was even a possibility that could happen," she told the publication.

Her two-year fight to regain custody of her daughter went all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court, where she prevailed. Since then, she has pushed for a national law to prevent others from suffering the same difficulty.

"A judge now can't say that the military lifestyle isn't conducive to raising children," she said.

Grassley announces deadline to submit federal judgeship applications

With U.S. District Judges for both Northern and Southern Iowa retiring in 2015, Sen. Chuck Grassley is inviting members of the Iowa legal community to contact his office before Friday, Jan. 9 in order to be considered for a recommendation by him to President Barack Obama.

"It’s important to me that this opportunity be made available to the entire legal community in Iowa. Anyone may apply for a recommendation,” Grassley said. "Following a comprehensive review of applicants, I will make recommendations to the President and he will make the decision about who is nominated.”

Grassley, who is expected to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, said that Iowa lawyers with stellar legal credentials should contact Aaron McKay of his staff in Des Moines with a cover letter, CV, and references.

McKay can be reached at and 515-288-1145 in Grassley’s Des Moines office, which is located at 210 Walnut Street in Room 721 of the Federal building. Applicants may begin submitting applications immediately, but must do so no later than Friday, Jan. 9. Interviews will be scheduled starting Jan. 14.

The openings are available because U.S. District Judge James Gritzner, the chief judge for Iowa’s Southern District, will take senior status, and U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett, the chief judge for Iowa’s Northern District, is retiring.

Government job posting: Legal assistant

The Third Judicial District is seeking to hire a legal assistant in the Sioux City and Spirit Lake area. A position in Sioux City is available immediately. Additional positions are scheduled to become available Aug. 3.

Requirements for the position include: graduation from an accredited law school (3rd year students may apply before they have graduated), high standard of academic excellence and considerable experience in legal research and writing are desirable. The individual selected for the position would draft opinions and orders at the direction of a judge, research motions, prepare jury instructions and other work as required. Salary for the position is $45,177.60 annually.

To apply, send application form, resume and writing sample to Leesa A. McNeil, District Court Administrator at Woodbury Country Courthouse – Room 210, 620 Douglas Street, Sioux City, IA 51101, or email Application forms are available at the judicial branch website here. Job closes Jan. 23 at 4:30 p.m.

In Other News...

At Law School, Is Insensitivity Grounds for an Objection?
Attorneys belong to a profession that requires many to look squarely at the world's horrors. They prosecute serial killers. They defend accused rapists and child molesters. A lawyer leading a class-action suit might pore over depositions describing harrowing deaths from cancer or children burned up in cars during crashes. Sometimes that will happen even as the attorney's father is dying of cancer, or her kids are the same age as the ones killed in the rear seats above the faulty fuel tanks.
The Atlantic

HELP Legal Assistance aids Q-C mom
My name is Wilma Wright, and I would like to share my thoughts and feelings on what a blessing HELP Legal Assistance has been to me. In 2009, my mother passed away. Not only was I dealing with the grief of losing my mom, I had no idea how to go about obtaining legal guardianship of my mentally challenged daughter, who my mother adopted at the age of three. I assumed that all I needed to do was provide proof that I was her biological mother, and that would be enough. I was mistaken…
Quad City Times

Big Question For 2015: Will The Supreme Court Rule On Abortion?
The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court. The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another good year.
Iowa Public Radio

Beginning farmers wrestle with legal, financial decisions
There are so many questions facing a beginning farmer it is difficult to know just where to start. A chat with an attorney isn’t a bad place to begin. "I would really advise a beginning farmer to have a lawyer in place and a CPA in place,” says Roger McEowen, head of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.
Iowa Farmer Today

State supreme court justice urges courthouse security
The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors are studying courthouse security in response to State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady’s call to action issued to all counties in the state. Cady, working through the Iowa State Association of County Auditors, has formed a courthouse security committee, which first sent a survey to county courthouses asking for a list of security measures and resources in place.
Burlington Hawk Eye via Ames Tribune

Nebraska, Iowa immigration lawyers brace for surge of unknown size
Immigration attorneys have been bracing for an influx of business ever since President Barack Obama announced his executive action on immigration six weeks ago.

For example, the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance in Lincoln hopes to add six positions to its four-person staff.
Omaha World Herald via

Jackson County considers security upgrades at courthouse
It's been three months since a shooting at the Jackson County Courthouse left the gunman dead, a supervisor injured and others shaken. The Jackson County Board of Supervisors formed a committee last June to talk about courthouse safety, and now the committee has made some recommendations to the board, including one open entrance to the courthouse, a drop box outside the courthouse for bills and an emergency action plan.
Quad City Times

Monson calls for adding Woodbury County administrator
The new Woodbury County Board chairman wants to hire an administrator to oversee departments, one in a series of proposals marking a shift in government relations that have taken hold since the November elections. "Issues that must be addressed have nothing to do with political parties. They have to do with making government work for all Woodbury County citizens," said the chairman, Mark Monson, of Sergeant Bluff.
Sioux City Journal

Just for Fun

Judge Edward J. McManus, Senior Judge in the Northern District of Iowa, will be celebrating his 95th birthday on Feb. 9. To make this day extra special, his office would like to present him with a memory book filled with birthday greetings and memories from his friends and colleagues.

If you have a special memory, a picture, or would like to share a special birthday wish, you may send your notes, letters or cards to the following address:

Judge Edward J. McManus
c/o Deb Frank, Judicial Assistant
United States District Court
111 Seventh Avenue SE, #8
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401

Cards or letters should be mailed as soon as possible to arrive prior to Jan. 15 to ensure time to assemble the well wishes into a birthday album celebrating the big day! If you prefer, you may send an email instead with a scan of your note or letter to

Please feel free to share this request with others, but remember – It’s a Surprise!


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.



Dec. 19, 2014
No. 13–0925

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.

The director of the department of revenue appeals a district court ruling affirming a decision of the board of tax review that a company providing voice over internet protocol telephone service was not subject to central assessment for property tax purposes. JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 13–1636

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Gary D. McKenrick, Judge.

A school district appeals a summary judgment ruling finding as a matter of law a whole grade sharing agreement entered into by a predecessor school district that merged into the reorganized school district did not bind the reorganized school. REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

No. 13–1808

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Lawrence McLellan, Judge.

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner appeals from the order of the district court on judicial review, which we treat as a petition for a writ of certiorari, that reversed a $1000 assessment against Denison Municipal Utilities for its failure to file a first report of injury. WRIT ANNULLED.

No. 13–1895

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Mary E. Howes, Judge.
The defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his sentence. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT SENTENCE VACATED AND CASE REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.

Dec. 26, 2014
No. 14–0288
IN THE INTEREST OF J.C, Minor Child. D.C., Father

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Constance Cohen, Associate Juvenile Judge.

The State and a child’s guardian ad litem seek further review of a court of appeals decision reversing a juvenile court order dismissing the child’s established father as a necessary party in child in need of assistance proceedings and termination of parental rights proceedings. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DECISION OF JUVENILE COURT AFFIRMED.

No. 14–1406

On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa.

The grievance commission reports respondent committed ethical violations and recommends a one-year suspension of the attorney’s license. LICENSE SUSPENDED.

Jan. 2, 2015
No. 13–0446

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Michael J. Schilling, Judge.

Defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his conviction and finding defendant’s trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to convict the defendant of possession of contraband at a residential facility. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 13–0450

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Todd A. Geer, Judge.

Defendant appeals convictions and sentences for murder in the first degree, attempt to commit murder, and felon in possession of a firearm and challenges instructions to the jury. AFFIRMED.



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