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    January 20, 2016
Past Issues   

Administrative Hearings Division launches new website

The Administrative Hearings Division of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals launched a new website that provides a wide range of helpful information for administrative law practitioners and the general public about Iowa’s administrative hearing process. The website includes a library of administrative law resources, frequently used forms, guidance for pro se litigants, advice for those seeking to obtain legal counsel and other information about the division. 


"We are excited to be able to provide this wealth of information as a part of our continued efforts to demystify and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Iowa’s administrative hearing process,” said Sam Langholz, administrator of the Administrative Hearings Division.

The Administrative Hearings Division provides independent administrative law judges to decide disputes, primarily between private citizens and government agencies, including state and local departments, boards, and commissions. To visit the new website, click here.

Your support is needed for judicial branch, indigent defense budget requests

ISBA members are needed to communicate the ISBA’s support for the judicial branch budget request and for the State Public Defender’s Office’s supplemental appropriations request for payment of court-appointed attorney fees. The Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will be considering both requests.


ISBA Members from districts 1A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 5A, 5C, 6, 8A and 8B, are especially critical to this effort to help inform members of the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee as they are constituents of the lawmakers serving on the subcommittee. The Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee includes the following senators and representatives:

Tom Courtney - Chair, Burlington (8B)       
Rob Hogg - Vice Chair, Cedar Rapids (6)
Julian Garrett - Ranking Member,
Indianola (5A)
Mark Chelgren, Ottumwa (8A)
Rich Taylor, Mt. Pleasant (8B)
Gary Worthan - Chair, Storm Lake (3A)
Darrel Branhagen - Vice Chair, Decorah (1A)
Todd Taylor - Ranking Member,
Cedar Rapids (6)
Marti Ander, Des Moines (5C)
Chip Baltimore, Boone (2B)
Stan Gustafson, Cumming (5A)
Steven Holt, Denison (3B)
Jerry Kearns, Keokuk (8A)
Brian Meyer, Des Moines (5C)

The judicial branch budget will be presented to the Justice Systems Appropriations
Subcommittee on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 10:00 a.m. To see the FY 2017 Judicial Branch Budget Request that includes decision packages to maintain the current level of service, a judicial salary increase and an increase for the jury and witness fund, click here. To review the talking points for communication with Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee members regarding the judicial branch budget, click here.


The State Public Defender’s Office is requesting an additional $3 million in supplemental appropriations this year. The funds will be used for the payment of court-appointed attorney fees. The claims by court-appointed counsel will exceed last year’s appropriation of $29.5 million by at least $3 million. The supplemental appropriations bill is needed to ensure that court-appointed counsel attorney fee claims are paid in a timely manner. 

Contact information for both ISBA Legislative Counsel and state legislators is available here.

Home Buyer Tax Credit Program announced

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last week that eligible Iowans can now buy a home and reduce their federal income tax liability through the Take Credit Mortgage Credit Certificate Program administered by the Iowa Finance Authority.


Approximately 780 home buyers are expected to benefit from the program in 2016, which is now available for new purchases through a network of lenders throughout the state. The program provides eligible home buyers with a tax credit against their federal income tax liability every year for the life of their mortgage. Eligible homeowners may take 50 percent of their annual interest paid on the mortgage loan, up to a maximum of $2,000 per year, for up to 30 years. The remaining mortgage interest may be taken as a deduction from taxable income if the home buyer itemizes.


Eligibility for the Take Credit program requires home buyers to meet household income and purchase price limitations and meet the definition of a first-time home buyer. The federal income limits vary by county and household size, currently ranging from $67,500 to $115,220 per year. A purchase price limit of $258,000 applies statewide with the exception of federally targeted areas where the limit is $316,000. A first-time home buyer is defined as someone who has not owned a primary residence in the past three years but also includes home buyers purchasing in a federally targeted area and qualified veterans who have not used tax exempt mortgage financing previously.


More information is available at


Rural practice ‘meet and greet’ receives praise from attorneys and students

Feedback from a sampling of the 20 rural attorneys and 28 students who participated in the ISBA Rural Practice Committee’s "meet and greet” event last Friday at the bar office indicated it was helpful and they were glad they attended. Attorneys said it was a great opportunity to meet a large number of potential hires in a short time in one location. Students were pleased with the chance to meet a number of prospective employers.


All of the attorneys who offered feedback said they met two or three students with whom they want to follow up for summer clerk or full-time associate positions this year. Most students said they had met multiple attorneys for whom they would like to work and would be contacting those attorneys.


The desired outcome of the meet and greet event is to introduce rural attorneys interested in hiring to students interested in working in a rural practice after graduation so they begin communicating with each other over the next few months. The goal is that the attorneys and students will find a mutually satisfying fit that results in job offers by summer.


Interested attorneys who were unable to attend the meet and greet are still able to connect with students by viewing the resumés posted on the Rural Practice Committee’s web page on the ISBA website. Presently, there are 30 resumés posted on the site. They can be viewed via this link, or by going to the ISBA website (, clicking on "Committees” in the "Member Groups” tab at the top, then scrolling down to "Rural Practice.”


Committee Chair, Phil Garland, and Staff Liaison, Steve Boeckman, are also available to assist attorneys and students hoping to find a match for the summer. Contact Garland at, or Boeckman at

Reminder: district judicial nominating commissioner election

There is still time to cast your ballot in the district judicial nominating commissioner election. The individuals who serve on these commissions are charged with finding appropriate candidates to recommend to the governor for district court vacancies. The voting period closes Jan. 31, at 11:59 p.m.


A total of 15 attorney positions are open in each of Iowa’s 14 judicial election subdistricts. The election will be conducted electronically and is completely confidential. With the exception of judicial election district 5C, all districts are to elect one eligible elector. The person to be elected in Districts 1A, 1B, 3A, 3B, 5A, 5B and 7 shall be a female; the person to be elected in Districts 2A, 2B, 4, 6, 8A and 8B shall be a male. The eligible resident members in District 5C are to elect two electors; one shall be a male and one shall be a female. See Iowa Code §46.4 and 602.11111(3)(2015) for procedural details. Members of the district judicial nominating commissions serve six-year terms.


To cast a ballot, attorneys should first log into their accounts on the Office of Professional Regulation website at Then, locate the menu item "Judicial Nominating Elections,” click and select the menu button "Vote in Current Election,” and selecting "January 31, 2016” from the drop-down box. From there, attorneys should make their selections and click "Cast Ballot” to submit their votes.


Questions about the voting procedure should be directed to or 515-281-5241.

New Court Rule 39.18 effective next year

The effective date for new Court Rule 39.18, Requirement for Death or Disability Plan for Attorneys in Solo Practice, is now Jan. 1, 2017. New ICR 39.18, adopted on Nov. 20, requires all solo practitioners in Iowa to have a succession plan in the event of death or disability in place by the effective date.


The new Court Rule 39.18 applies to: 

  • An attorney practicing alone
  • An attorney practicing only with other attorneys who do not own equity in the practice
  • An attorney practicing in an association of sole practitioners
  • Any other structure in which no other attorney owns equity in the practice

Two new resources are in development for those ISBA members directly affected by the rule as well as those being asked to serve as a designated attorney or alternate. Sample documents that can be used to comply with the new ICR 39.18 are to be released to ISBA members in early February. They will be distributed in an editable Word format. The sample documents are being developed through a joint project between the Iowa Academy of Trust and Estate Counsel and the ISBA.


In addition, the ISBA is also developing webinars to assist bar association members who will be impacted by this new rule and will announce them later this year.


To read new ICR 39.18, click here. To see the Jan. 15, order amending the effective date for new ICR 39.18 to Jan. 1, 2017, click here.

New insurance benefits offered to members

The ISBA recently made Aflac accident and cancer/specified-disease insurance policies available to ISBA members. The Aflac plans provide cash benefits to help cover expenses that major medical does not - like mortgage, groceries and other expenses.


Aflac accident policies cover incidents like broken teeth, concussions, lacerations, ground and air ambulances, emergency room visits and more.


The cancer/specified-disease policies include plan rider options that help with the initial diagnosis of cancer, cancer screening/annual care and specified-disease benefits that cover 30 other diseases beyond cancer such as Cholera, Malaria, Meningitis and more.


Additional products are available through payroll deduction including short term disability, critical illness and hospital.


Individuals interested in additional information regarding this new ISBA member benefit should visit


In Other News ...

State of the Judiciary address focuses on human trafficking, racial disparity
Putting an end to human trafficking and lessening racial disparity within the Iowa court system: These were two of the primary priorities outlined by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady in his State of the Judiciary address Wednesday morning. "Justice is within us at this moment and is seen across this state in the everyday actions of Iowans. It is seen in the actions of judges. It is seen in the actions of legislators. It is seen in the actions of the governor, state officials, and all Iowans who see justice as a goal to achieve," Chief Justice Cady said in his opening remarks.

Supreme Court to hear challenge to Obama immigration actions
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would consider a legal challenge to President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules, agreeing to examine the reach of presidential power as it decides the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions. The court, which has twice rejected challenges to Mr. Obama’s signature legislative victory by upholding his health care law, will now rule on the president’s plan to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation and allow them to work indefinitely in the country legally.

The New York Times

Branstad and justice: A first step, but many are needed

Reflecting upon the Condition of the State address delivered by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Tuesday, I was pleasantly surprised. Why? Because for the first time in my 14 years of hearing this annual address, the governor included the subject of the criminal justice system and its reform.

Des Moines Register


Court of Appeals uses equity to back-date filing in "unique and specific circumstances”

The Court of Appeals reversed, holding, "We note the district court’s language shows recognition of the harshness of its ruling….We also note the difficulties in this case were not caused by either party but by a malfunction of the EDMS system in accepting Ewing’s payment for filing the petition but not accepting the actual petition. Because EDMS is a totally new filing process for the entire court system, because our supreme court is still in the process of taking comment on and developing the court’s final EDMS rules, and because there is a lack of supreme court precedent to guide our resolution, we conclude an attorney who received notice in April 2014 that EDMS had accepted payment for the filing of a petition could reasonably believe the petition itself had been filed, especially when the notice contained the language … referencing ‘petition.pdf.’ and no notice of the system being down was generated.” Thus, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.


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.




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

  • Christopher Joseph Irk, The Wirbicki Law Group, Chicago, Illinois

  • Daniel Allen Singer, Shamberg Johnson and Bergman, Kansas City, Missouri

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.The ISBA Insurance Program is designed specifically with you in mind and offers:
  • Competitive Rates
  • Comprehensive Policy Form, including unique coverage extensions
  • Access to Unparalleled Loss Prevention & Risk Management Service
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See more ISBA member benefits here


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