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February 4, 2015
Past Issues

Video provides update on ISBA legislative efforts

ISBA Legislative Counsel Jim Carney highlights several of the association’s key legislative initiatives and provides an overview of the 2015 legislative session in a video recorded Monday, Feb. 2.

In the 10-minute video, Carney discusses at length the bar’s efforts to increase the hourly rate attorneys receive for representing indigent defendants, higher caps on expert witness fees and the bar’s position on a proposal, House Study Bill 43, which will allow residents from anywhere in the state to apply for open judgeship positions. Presently, applicants for open judgeships must reside in the judicial district or sub-district where the opening exists.

He also touches on:
· The overall state budget, which he says will be tight for the upcoming fiscal year.
· Making probate costs uniform across the state and standardizing the assets that are included in calculating those costs.
· Tort immunity, which the association has historically opposed, on such activities as sledding accidents and school incidents.

View the complete update video here.

Ethics opinions now available, webinars to follow

Two ethics opinions were recently published by the ISBA’s Committee on Ethics and Practice Guidelines. The opinions cover aspects of client email communications. Webinars on the opinions will be scheduled in the next few weeks and are free for ISBA members.

Details regarding the webinars are still being worked out. Next week’s Iowa Lawyer Weekly e-newsletter will include registration information for the events tentatively scheduled for Feb. 18 and another in March, date to be determined. Attendance of the webinars will be worth one hour of ethics CLE credit each.

The new ethics opinions can be found below:
· Ethics Opinion 15-01: A lawyer sending or receiving substantive communications with a client via e-mail or other electronic means ordinarily must warn the client about the risk of interception including the use of a computer or other device, or e-mail account, to which a third party may gain access.
· Ethics Opinion 15-02: Interception of confidential or attorney-client communication: the duty to stop, notify, return and, in the case of wrongful interception, to withdraw representation.

Those interested in reviewing all ethics opinions can click here to visit the Ethics and Practice Guidelines page or by going to, navigating to "Practice Tools” on the top navigation, then "Ethics Advice/Opinions."

Supreme Court: Access to Justice issues require further study

The Iowa Supreme Court published an order Tuesday, Feb. 3, electing not to adopt a mandatory or optional fee on all Iowa-licensed attorneys for support of civil legal services for low-income Iowans, and electing to further study the issue.

To view the order, click here or visit, click "About the Courts,” "Supreme Court,” then "Orders.”

State Public Defenders Office issues new requirements for contracting attorneys

Attorneys who contract with the State Public Defenders Office must meet new requirements to qualify for work from the SPD office. The new requirements, which went into effect Jan. 1, are based on the class of criminal case involved. They include:

· Class A and B felonies – four years of practice experience and five hours of CLE in criminal law; completion of five jury trials; and references from three judges.
· Class C and D felonies – two years of practice experience and five hours of CLE in criminal law; completion of one jury trial.
· Misdemeanors – three hours of CLE in criminal law annually.
· Juvenile – three hours of CLE in juvenile law annually.

At this point, civil jury trials cannot be counted toward the jury trial requirement. However, the state public defender has the discretion to waive some of the requirements in cases of need.


ISBA leadership meets with Iowa lawyer-legislators

The Iowa State Bar Association leadership met with Iowa’s lawyer-legislators during the 40th Annual Lawyer-Legislator Dinner at the Des Moines Embassy Club Jan. 28. Each year, ISBA Legislative Counsel Jim Carney and his team host the current lawyer-legislators and The ISBA leadership to provide an open environment for them to mingle and discuss ISBA legislative priorities.

During the dinner, Carney and ISBA President Joe Feller discussed a number of legislative priorities included in this year’s Affirmative Legislative Program. Along with discussions of legislation, the invitees had a chance to introduce themselves to the group to help everyone get to know each other and to build relationships.

Stipends available for students hired as summer clerks in rural practices

A generous grant from the Iowa State Bar Foundation makes it possible for students who work as clerks in rural practices during the summer of 2015 to receive stipends. The grant money will be given to Iowa Legal Aid for distribution to students in the Rural Practice Committee’s summer clerkship program who spend at least 50 hours on Iowa Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyers Project activities that assist indigent Iowans.

The stipends are not considered wages. However, they may benefit rural attorneys who would like to hire a summer clerk, but are concerned they don’t have enough work to keep a student busy for the recommended 40 hours a week for 10 weeks, and can’t afford to pay a student for that amount of time. By allowing the student, under the supervision of the attorney, to work on Iowa Legal Aid projects, the obligation for keeping the clerk busy is reduced while at the same time allowing Iowa Legal Aid to serve more indigent Iowans.

Details about the agreement between Iowa Legal Aid and the ISBA Rural Practice Committee on the stipend program can be seen here. Contact information for Iowa Legal Aid representatives is at the bottom of the agreement. Attorneys interested in the stipend program can also contact Phil Garland or Amy Skogerson, co-chairs of the Rural Practice Committee. Garland’s contact information is: or 641-923-3792. Skogerson’s contact information is: or 515-996-4045.

Governor appoints Workers’ Compensation Commissioner

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Joe Cortese as Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Tuesday, Feb. 3. Cortese will replace Michelle "Miki” McGovern, who had been serving as the acting commissioner since September 2014.

"With over thirty years of experience in workers’ compensation, I’m confident Joe Cortese will serve as an independent and fair commissioner,” said Branstad. "I appreciate Miki’s service to the department and the state in the interim.”

Cortese will assume the role of commissioner effective Feb. 16. His appointment is subject to Iowa Senate confirmation.

Cortese practices workers’ compensation law at Huber, Book, Cortese & Lanz, in West Des Moines, Iowa, where he is a partner. He has been with the firm, formerly Jones, Hoffmann & Huber, since 1981. He has been a partner since 1985. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and earned his J.D. with honors from Drake University Law School. He is a member of The Iowa State Bar Association, Polk County Bar Association, Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, Iowa Defense Counsel Association, Defense Research Institute and a founding member of the American Academy of ADR Attorneys.

You and the Law: Health Care Power of Attorney video available to public

The ISBA's Podcast Subcommittee of the Public Relations Committee recently released its newest "You and the Law” video regarding health care power of attorney. The video is a helpful guide for the public and for attorneys to share with clients who may be considering their options when facing difficult medical conditions.

"You and the Law” videos are located under the "Public Resources” drop-down menu on the top navigation bar of the ISBA website ( The page also contains a number of brochures and podcasts on various topics.

The informational multimedia products produced by ISBA sections and committees are meant to be used by the public and attorneys who want to offer basic information to clients on various issues. They are not an attempt to provide legal advice. The ISBA encourages viewers to consult with an attorney regarding legal matters to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

Questions or comments regarding the "You and the Law” series can be directed to Chris Fritz at 515-697-7873 or

In Other News...

Good way to start a court’s history: ‘Iowa Supreme Court’s first case freed a slave’
There’s a nice story in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier by Dennis Magee, titled "Iowa Supreme Court’s first case freed a slave,” about In the Matter of Ralph, (a colored man), on habeas corpus (Iowa Terr. 1839), apparently handed down July 4, 1839. Here’s an excerpt from the case, in which a master let his slave go to the Iowa Territory, on condition that he would pay $500 (plus interest) for his freedom.
The Washington Post

Iowa court officials, sheriffs warn residents of jury scam
Court officials and the Linn County Sheriff’s office are warning area residents of a recent scam where a person claiming to be a "lieutenant” is attempting to collect money from individuals by telling they must pay a fine for missing jury duty. Carroll Edmondson, 6th Judicial District court administrator, said he had a report of the jury scam last week from Polk County court officials and then Johnson County clerks said three people had reported the same thing Monday.

Study finds court fees also punish the families of those who owe
A new report on the growth of court fines and fees that are charged to often-impoverished offenders is focusing on another group that pays: their families. Titled "When All Else Fails, Fining the Family," the study finds that impoverished people who go through the criminal justice system almost always get cash from family and friends to help pay their court-ordered fines, even though those family and friends are often poor, too. The report was published by the Center For Community Alternatives, a New York-based advocacy group that promotes alternatives to incarceration.

Woodbury County Sheriff pitches plan to take over courthouse security
Security guards working at the Woodbury County Courthouse could be reapplying for their jobs less than a year after they started. A change in who provides courthouse security is almost certain to occur in coming months, but the Woodbury County Board on Tuesday decided to wait while a legal challenge plays out. Seven guards hired to fill three positions started work at the end of August, after a long, contentious debate last year over who should oversee the building's first-ever security plan. The courthouse, at 620 Douglas St., was built in 1918.
Sioux City Journal


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 - Feb. 4

ABA Major Legislation for 113th Congress
 January 2015

January 30, 2015

No. 13–1756
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Sioux County, Duane E. Hoffmeyer, Judge.
Defendant appeals order denying motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. AFFIRMED.

No. 14–1577
On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa.
The grievance commission reports an attorney violated several court rules and rules of professional conduct and recommends suspension. LICENSE SUSPENDED




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