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    February 17, 2016
Past Issues  

Attorney Disciplinary Board and Grievance Commission annual report filed

The Iowa Supreme Court filed its 2015 Attorney Disciplinary Board and Grievance Commission annual report earlier this month. The report includes minutes, budget information, complaint determinations, grievance case summaries and much more.


According to the report, the Attorney Disciplinary Board opened 389 new complaint files in 2015, up from 337 in 2014 and 366 in 2013. The assistant directors declined to open investigations in 199 complaints. Of the 316 determinations that the board made, 189 were dismissed upon a finding of no ethical violation, 47 resulted in private admonitions, 41 were referred to staff counsel for filing with the Grievance Commission, 35 resulted in public reprimand, two were deferred per Iowa Court Rule 34.13, and two files resulted in other determinations. 


The report identified prisoners or criminal defendants as the most frequent source of complaints (30.4 percent) followed by clients other than prisoner, criminal or family law (13 percent); judges or attorneys (11.7 percent); family law clients (9.8 percent); and beneficiaries or others involved in probate (6.6 percent). The three most common ethical violations were neglect or incompetence (59.5 percent) followed by misrepresentation or fraud (13.4 percent) and money or trust account issues (12.7 percent).


The Grievance Commission began 2015 with 22 cases pending from 2014 then added 15 additional cases from the Attorney Disciplinary Board during the year. Of those cases, 19 received final dispositions during 2015 and 18 were pending as of Dec. 30, 2015. The final dispositions resulted in revocation of license (1), suspensions of varying lengths (14), dismissal (1), private admonition (1) or written reprimands (2). 


To view the full report click here. For other Office of Professional Regulation announcements and reports, visit the Iowa courts website

Supreme Court to continue business specialty court

The Iowa Supreme Court issued an order on Monday that continues the Iowa Business Specialty Court as a component of the Iowa court system. The decision to continue the business court beyond the three-year pilot program that expires in May is due in part to the high overall rating from attorneys who’ve used it since its inception as a pilot program in May 2013.


Thirty attorneys who responded in the 2015 evaluation prepared by the state court administrator’s office stated they strongly agree (2.9 out of 3.0) that the business court should become a permanent component of the Iowa court system. The attorneys gave an average rating of 2.8 out of 3.0 to the statement: "I will seek assignment of qualifying cases to the business court in the future.” (See the full 2015 annual evaluation here.)


The business specialty court accepts a broad range of complex commercial cases with $200,000 or more in dispute. It is staffed by three judges with experience in handling complex issues facing businesses. Details on the criteria for a case to be assigned to the business court and additional information about the business court, including biographical information on the three judges, are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at this link. The "Joint Consent Form for Case Assignment to the Business Court Pilot Project” can also be accessed at that link.


The court will conduct its third annual review of the business court during its 2016 administrative term beginning July 1. During that evaluation, it will determine if changes should be made to the eligibility criteria or other aspects of the project.


ABOTA sponsoring hall of fame for mock trial educator coaches

The Iowa Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is seeking nominations for its first Iowa Mock Trial Educator Coach Hall of Fame. The new hall of fame recognizes the vital role that "mock trial coaches play in teaching Iowa’s youth about the American jury system,” according to a release issued by the organization.


New inductees into the hall of fame will be announced at the awards ceremony for each middle school and high school state tournament. Inductees will receive a plaque commemorating their induction. In addition, new inductees will be recognized at the Iowa ABOTA chapter’s annual dinner usually held in October in Des Moines, Iowa.


ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the presentation and promotion of the right to a civil jury trial provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It works to uphold the jury system by educating the American public about the history and value of the right to trial by jury.


Click here to access the website and read the full release that outlines the criteria for nominating an educator to the hall of fame. Also, see the nomination form, which can be filled out and submitted directly from the website.

Share your experiences with ADR and LSR in family practice  

The ISBA Communications Department is exploring opportunities to publish articles related to emerging trends in family law practice. Attorneys are invited to share their experiences with the alternative dispute resolution methods they utilize in the context of family law. Input is also needed from attorneys who engage in limited scope representation in the context of their family law practices. 


More specifically, the editors of the Iowa Lawyer Magazine and the Iowa Lawyer Weekly are interested in learning more about how the following are beneficial in attorneys’ family law practices: 

  • Mediation;
  • Collaborative law; and
  • Limited scope representation.

Attorneys who engage in elder mediation are welcome to share their insights as well.


To submit your practice experiences, email and include "Family Law – ADR & LSR” in the email subject line. Please include your full name, a short bio and one to two paragraphs that address this request. In addition, if you want to provide other input related to this request, please do. All information received will be taken into consideration. Priority will be given to responses received no later than February 26.

Special Announcement: Court of Appeals session to honor Judge Fagg

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will hold a special session to honor the late Judge George G. Fagg March 4, at 1:30 p.m. at the United States Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa. All are welcome to attend this public session. Please RSVP to

Supreme Court Opinions
Feb. 12

No. 14–0093 

County board of review seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming the district court’s ruling on an appeal from a property tax assessment. REVERSED.


No. 14–0656 

A criminal defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his conviction for methamphetamine possession, contending police obtained evidence through a warrantless search that violated his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches. COURT OF APPEALS DECISION AND DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.


No. 14–1386 

The State and the Polk County Clerk of Court appeal a judgment awarding the plaintiff attorney fees. REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.


In Other News ...

What Scalia's death spells for the Supreme Court's docket 

As we've been reporting, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died, reportedly at a ranch in Texas. He was 79 years old. Tom Goldstein is an attorney who's argued before the court and a well-known blogger, publisher of the SCOTUSblog about the Supreme Court of the United States. And he is with us now. Tom Goldstein, thanks for speaking with us. What are your thoughts on hearing this news today? TOM GOLDSTEIN: Well, it's obviously a tragedy for his family, his wife and nine kids. There are more than 20 grandchildren. And he was a historic figure. He was a huge, huge influence on every kind of law - the Constitution, statutes, regulations. He really was the kind of father of conservative legal thought in a lot of ways. 

Iowa Public Radio


Iowa's top court to rule on felon voting ban 

Iowa's highest court will decide whether to loosen the state's strict ban on voting by former felons. The Iowa Supreme Court said last week it would hear a challenge to the ban brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other voting rights groups. The Hawkeye State is one of just three states — Florida and Kentucky are the other two — that disenfranchise former felons for life unless the governor personally intercedes. 

NBC News


Webster County unrolls next phase of courthouse security 

Security cameras and access control doors will be installed in the Webster County Courthouse in the next phase of security improvements in the building. The Messenger reports that the county will pay more than $7,200 for cameras on the first floor, and more than $11,600 for locked doors on the east and west sides. Campbell says the cameras will connect to the existing system in the law enforcement center so they can be monitored at all times. 

KWWL Channel 7


Iowa ‘death with dignity’ bill sparks emotional debate 
Iowa adults diagnosed with a terminal illness could make a written request for self-administered medication they could use to end their lives under a bill that provoked an emotional debate Wednesday before an Iowa Senate subcommittee. Senate File 2051, titled the "Iowa Death With Dignity Act,” would establish a medical process for a terminally ill patient to take his or her life. The person would need to be diagnosed by at least two physicians and have less than six months to live. 

USA Today


Iowa legislators want to cut number of counties in half  

Completing the "full Grassley” might not seem so intimidating – or sound so impressive -- if a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution is adopted. Rep. Jake Highfill, R-Johnston, has proposed the Legislature reduce the number of counties from 99 to 40 as a way to save taxpayer dollars and modernize local government. "I’m just trying to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money,” Highfill said after introducing House Joint Resolution 2005. He thinks that by consolidating county operations there will be savings through efficiency.

Sioux City Journal 


Sioux City judge confirmed to Iowa federal court  

A U.S. magistrate from Sioux City has been approved to serve as a judge on one of Iowa's federal courts. Sen. Chuck Grassley announced Thursday that the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Leonard Strand, of Sioux City, to serve as a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Iowa. President Barrack Obama nominated Strand in June to replace U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett. The nomination will go back to Obama for final approval.

KCCI Channel 8


David S. Walker retires from Drake University Law School 

Drake University Law School celebrated the retirement of David S. Walker, the Dwight D. Opperman Distinguished Professor of Law, on Feb. 11. David served on the Drake Law faculty for 40 years, including two terms as dean. The ISBA congratulates him on his retirement. 

Drake University Law School 


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.


Feb. 12




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

  • Michael L. Hahn, Litchfield Cavo, Chicago, Illinois

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.


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