Iowa Lawyer Weekly (02/19/2014)
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February 19, 2014
Past Issues

Nominees sought for grievance commission, disciplinary board

The Iowa Supreme Court has asked the ISBA, as one of several lawyer organizations in the state, to provide nominees for its Attorney Disciplinary Board and Grievance Commission. The nominees are needed to fill vacancies for terms beginning July 1.

Two lawyer positions – one male and one female -- are open on the disciplinary board. A number of positions are open on the grievance commission in all but three of the 14 judicial election subdistricts. See those positions here.

To be considered for nomination, please complete the information on the form available here, and click on "Submit.” Alternatively, you can email the information, using the online form as a guide, to Be sure to put "Board/Commission Nominee” in the subject line of the email so that the email will be directed to the right area.

All nominations must reach the ISBA office by Friday (March 21). President-elect Joe Feller and bar leadership will review the nominations and submit them to the court.

ISBA opposes proposed switch to accrual accounting method

ISBA leaders have sent letters to each of Iowa’s congressional representatives asking them to oppose draft legislation that would require law firms and other personal service businesses to switch to an accrual method of accounting if their annual gross receipts are $10 million or more.

The letters address provisions in Section 212 of a U.S. House of Representatives bill prepared by the House Ways and Means Committee, and Section 51 of a Senate bill prepared by the Senate Finance Committee that would require the change from cash-basis to accrual-basis accounting.

The letters, which are signed by ISBA President Guy Cook and Taxation Section Chair Christopher Nuss, state that although the legislation in each chamber "may seem on the surface to simplify tax law with respect to accounting method, we are concerned that passing this portion of the Draft Bill would greatly complicate compliance with tax accounting rules and also burden law firms and other personal service businesses, primarily by requiring those businesses to pay tax on income they have not received in cash, if ever received.”

Congressman Bruce Braley was one of 71 members of Congress who signed a letter dated Nov. 25, 2013 expressing serious concerns about the proposed accounting changes. Read the letter here.

Services for Judge William Thomas tomorrow, Friday

Visitation for District Six Senior Judge William Thomas, Cedar Rapids, will be held tomorrow (Feb. 20) at the Cedar Memorial Funeral Home, and funeral services will be held Friday (Feb. 21) at the First Congregational United Church of Christ. Judge Thomas, who was appointed to the district court bench in 1981, died Sunday (Feb. 16) at his home. He had battled colon cancer for a number of years.

The visitation will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home located at 4200 1st Ave., N.E. in Cedar Rapids. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. at the church located at 3rd Ave. and 17th St. S.E., also in Cedar Rapids.

 "Judge Thomas was a great judge and a wonderful man," said ISBA President Guy Cook after hearing of his death.

Condolences and notes of remembrance can be sent to Julie Thomas at 4749 Mount Vernon Rd. S.E., Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. Memorial contributions can be made to Mediation Services of Eastern Iowa, Indian Creek Nature Center-Paddle Day or Kids First Law Center.

Justice Appel to speak in Drake’s constitutional lecture series

The Constitutional Law Center at Drake University Law School has announced that Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel will present the 2014 lecture in the "Judge James T. Grant Iowa Constitution Lecture Series.”

The lecture, entitled "State Constitutional Law in Iowa: Past, Present and Future” will be held on Thursday (March 27) from 3-4 pm at Drake University Law School’s Cartwright Hall, Room 206. A reception will follow the presentation.

Justice Appel was appointed to the supreme court in 2006. A Dubuque native, he received his bachelor's and master's degree from Stanford University and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Chart shows history of corn prices, revenue per acre

Interested in what the price of corn and the revenue from corn production has done the past 100 years?

Check out this chart put together by attorney Michel Nelson at Iowa Savings Bank in Carroll. It contains graphs that show the price of a bushel of corn over the last 100 years, the gross revenue per acre from raising corn the last 100 years and the price of Carroll County farmland from 1950 to 2013. Nelson also included a line showing what corn prices and farmland values would be when adjusted for inflation.

The chart demonstrates that corn prices have been relatively flat over the century, except perhaps for the last 6-7 years. Gross revenue per acre from corn production has had more peaks and valleys than corn prices, but still ranges generally from $300 to $800 per acre.

Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Clarinda

Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on two cases at the Clarinda High School auditorium, 100 North Cardinal Drive in Clarinda, beginning at 7 p.m. on March 11.

State of Iowa v. Dustin Dean Short involves a defendant who was subjected to a warrantless but limited-in-scope search by law enforcement at his residence. At issue is whether such a search is valid under Iowa’s constitutional search and seizure provision.

In the Matter of the Guardianship and Conservatorship of Kennedy the court is being asked to decide whether vasectomy is a major elective surgery requiring the guardian of the developmentally delayed adult to first obtain court approval before the procedure.

2014 Taxation Update DVD now available

A video recording of the 2014 Taxation Update seminar that occurred on Jan. 20 is now available for purchase and viewing.

The 117-minute recording features speakers Roger McEowen from the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, Kristy Maitre from the IRS and Joe Kristan from Roth & Company. They discuss a host of topics in four separate categories including:

  • Key recent rulings and cases and their implications
  • Treatment of gains and losses
  • Safe Harbors
  • Delay in the filing season
  • ID theft and how to proceed if return rejects

The recording is for educational purposes only; no CLE credit is available. It sells for $45 plus shipping and taxes.

To see the full list of topics covered and to purchase the DVD, visit here or go the ISBA Store and click on Electronic Media. ISBA members, please log-in to view the product. Non-members must register as a guest to purchase the DVD.

Eighth Judicial District seeks law clerk; application deadline Feb. 28

The Eighth Judicial District is seeking a Legal Assistant 1 (law clerk) for the 18-month period beginning this March The deadline for applying is Friday (Feb. 28).

Located at the Wapello County Courthouse in Ottumwa, the clerk will perform legal research, draft memoranda, decisions, findings and orders and compete other duties as assigned.

For more details about the position and to apply, go to the career portion of the judicial branch website and click on "Legal Assistant 1 (Law Clerk)”

Did You Know...

the ISBA is offering a free one-hour ethics presentation titled "Ethics Law for New Lawyers" from its listings of on-demand CLE courses in its On-Demand CLE Catalog? Other video topics available include Business Entities, Civil Procedure, Guardianships, Iowa Contracts, and Probate and Estate Administration. To access the catalog directly, click here. ISBA members, please log-in to the ISBA website to get the full benefits of the On-Demand CLE Catalog.

Benefit of the Week

Caselaw Update
Caselaw Update is a free email service that keeps you abreast of recent cases that have been added to the Iowa Bar’s case law archives. Once you are subscribed, you will receive an email each time decisions are handed down by the Iowa Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Each edition summarizes recent cases by topic and provides direct links to the full text of each decision.

Subscribe to Caselaw Update here.

Iowa Supreme Court Decisions

February 14, 2014

No. 11-1228

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

An applicant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming the constitutionality of the applicant’s sentence of life in prison with immediate parole eligibility. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AND JUDGMENT OF DISTRICT COURT IS CONDITIONALLY AFFIRMED; CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

No. 12-0024

Certiorari to the Iowa District Court for Story County, Timothy J. Finn, Judge.

The district court determined a sex offender was eligible for modification of his offender registration obligation. The State filed a petition for writ of certiorari. WRIT ANNULLED.