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February 18, 2015
Past Issues

Statewide judicial residency bill moves to Iowa House

In the state legislature, the House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill (HF 260) changing the current residency requirements for judicial applicants. The bill now moves to the entire house of representatives for debate.

The bill, which was requested by the Judicial Branch, specifies that a district court judge must be a resident of the appropriate judicial district or judicial election district before taking office. The effect of HF 260 is to allow judicial applications on a statewide basis as compared to the state’s current methodology which requires judicial applicants reside within the judicial district.

For example, with the passage of HF 260, an attorney in Burlington could apply for a judgeship in Spencer. An attorney from Decorah could apply for a judgeship in Shenandoah. The Iowa State Bar Association Board of Governors has adopted a position to oppose statewide judicial appointments and supports the current methodology.

Those interested in contacting state legislators to express opinions regarding HF 260, may do so by telephone or by email. The legislator's contact information can be found here.

Iowa Supreme Court schedules two special evening sessions

The Iowa Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a special session of oral arguments in Des Moines Tuesday evening, Feb. 24, and in Creston Monday evening, March 9.

The evening sessions are open to the public and provide an opportunity for Iowa residents, who may not be able to attend the court's regular morning and afternoon sessions, to watch the court conduct oral arguments. A public reception with the supreme court justices will follow the oral arguments at both special sessions.

Danny Homan, et al. vs. Terry Branstad, et al.
On Tuesday evening, Feb. 24, the supreme court will hear oral arguments in the case of Danny Homan, Steven J. Sodders, Jack Hatch, Pat Murphy, and Mark Smith v. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, and Charles M. Palmer, Director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Courtroom on the fourth floor of the Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines. Attorneys' briefs for the case and a guide to oral arguments are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website. Proceedings will be streamed live from the Iowa Judicial Branch web site as well.

Sanon, et al. v. City of Pella, et al.
On Monday evening, March 9, the supreme court will hear oral arguments in the case Sanon, et al. v. City of Pella, et al. beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Creston High School auditorium, 601 West Townline Street, Creston. Attorneys' briefs for the case and a guide to oral arguments are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website.

For more information, visit the Iowa Courts website or view the full press release.


2015 IowaDocs library update now available

ISBA’s IowaDocs support staff recently released the 2015 library late last week. The update comes on the heels of the recent announcement of IowaDocs also being published on the HotDocs Market.

IowaDocs users now have more options when it comes to working on legal forms. Users can use IowaDocs within the HotDocs Market or continue to use their desktop versions. Those who wish to continue to use the desktop version should contact the IowaDocs support staff at to receive the new library update.

IowaDocs will continue to offer members traditional services but strives to meet the tech demands of some of The ISBA’s tech-savvy attorneys. HotDocs, a company that offers automated generation of transactional legal documents, recently created a virtual marketplace for users to access legal documents from any computer through a cloud-based system. IowaDocs was one of the first state-specific legal documentation services to begin transitioning to the new online marketplace earlier this month.

"Making IowaDocs available on HotDocs Market represents ISBA’s commitment to offering our members access to the latest technologies, aimed at improving practice management, generating workflow efficiencies and delivering value for their clients,” said Harry Shipley, Assistant Executive Director for The Iowa State Bar Association.

For IowaDocs users interested in learning how to navigate the HotDocs Market, the ISBA is offering a free webinar tomorrow, Feb. 19. Click here for details. For questions, contact the IowaDocs support team at or 866-597-6040.

IRS warns tax preparers about scam

The IRS recently released a warning to tax preparers who may receive hoax emails asking them to update their e-Services information. The links provided in the email to access e-Services appear to be a phishing scam to capture e-Services usernames and passwords. This email was not generated by IRS e-Services. Tax preparers who receive an e-mail like this, should not click on the links or take any other action. There is no need to call the IRS, just disregard the email.

e-Services is a suite of web-based tools that allow tax professionals and payers to complete certain transactions online with the IRS. The tools include Registration Services, e-file Application, Transcript Delivery and TIN Matching. These services are only available to approved IRS business partners and not to the public.

Authorized business partners who need assistance using the online tools can contact the e-help Desk at 1-866-255-0654. For more details regarding e-Services, click here.

In Other News...

The Register's Editorial: Branstad needs to say why he fired judge
If there's one job in state government that should be protected from political influence, it's that of a judge. So it was more than a little disconcerting to hear two of Iowa's administrative law judges tell state legislators last summer that they were being pressured by the Branstad administration to rule in favor of employers in legal disputes over unemployment benefits. Ackerman is now suing the state, claiming she was fired in retaliation for her whistleblowing testimony before the Senate committee. The governor won't say why Ackerman was fired. His spokesman, Jimmy Centers, told the Associated Press that state law "prevents us from discussing personnel matters."
The Des Moines Register

Gov. Branstad appoints Chad A. Kepros District Court Judge
Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Chad A. Kepros as judge to the 6th Judicial District. Kepros was appointed on Friday. Kepros, of North Liberty, received his undergraduate degree from Coe College and his law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. He currently serves as a Magistrate Judge in Johnson County and is also in private practice as an attorney and mediator.

41 apply to Grassley for Iowa federal judgeships
A screening committee set up by Sen. Charles Grassley has received 41 applications from Iowans hoping for one of the two federal judgeships that soon will open in Iowa. It’s an odd situation: A Republican Senator seemingly taking charge of sending names to a Democratic president for judicial openings in the Senator’s state. But these days Grassley isn’t just any Republican Senator; he’s the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which must approve any judicial nomination from the White House before it can reach the Senate floor for confirmation. And Iowa now has no Democratic Senator.
Des Moines Cityview

Iowa woman brought to New Kent was torture victim, FBI says
An Iowa couple has been charged with sex trafficking and torture in a brutal cross-country scheme first uncovered by Virginia State Police and New Kent County authorities. New Kent officials dropped charges Wednesday morning against Aldair Hodza, 36, and Laura E. Sorensen, 31, both of Clive, Iowa, as federal agents filed new charges against the couple in a horrific torture and sex case discovered last month.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Waterloo law firm appears set to close amid claims of theft
A Waterloo law firm appears set to close, months after its former president killed himself before allegations surfaced that he had stolen millions of dollars from clients. Most of Gallagher, Langlas and Gallagher's lawyers have found work elsewhere since the allegations arose that David Alan Roth stole or mishandled client money, said Greg Lederer, a Cedar Rapids attorney representing the firm. The allegations came after Roth killed himself in September. Claims total at least $7.8 million, the highest of which is $1.9 million for a woman who had given Roth money to invest. Some claims don't list a dollar amount.
Quad City Times

Muscatine County officials: courthouse security OK
Muscatine County officials said they feel the courthouse is as secure as it needs to be. "Do I think that we are 100 percent safe and secure? No. That is impossible," Board of Supervisors Chair Kas Kelly wrote in an email to the Muscatine Journal. "Even the White House, the most secure house in the United States, has had breaches in security. I believe we have to be alert and aware of our surroundings and take precautions whenever possible." Currently, there is no metal detector or security screening to enter the Muscatine County Courthouse. The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors recently established a committee to review courthouse security.
Muscatine Journal

Waterloo courthouse briefly evacuated for bomb threat
The Black Hawk County Courthouse was evacuated for about a half hour Friday afternoon due to a bomb threat. Security staff and deputies removed everyone to the parking lot. Two trials in process were interrupted as well as other county business. People were allowed to return inside at about 2:20 p.m.
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier


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Legislative Report - Feb. 18

ABA Major Legislation for 114th Congress
 January 2015

February 13, 2015

No. 12–2270
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Joseph Moothart, Judge.

Defendant appeals his conviction for domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury pursuant to Iowa Code section 708.2A(2)(b), claiming ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

No. 13–1381
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, David H. Sivright Jr., Judge.

Plaintiffs appeal from an adverse summary judgment ruling dismissing legal malpractice claims against two attorneys. REVERSED AND REMANDED.




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