Iowa Lawyer Weekly (02/26/2014)
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February 26, 2014
Past Issues

Legislative update video: ISBA affirmative agenda faring well

ISBA Legislative Counsel, Jim Carney, painted an optimistic picture for the legislation on the association’s Affirmative Legislative Program in a video he recorded Friday (Feb. 21).

In the video, the first update he has recorded during the 2014 legislative session, Carney said all but two of the ISBA’s 12 proposals made it out of committee in the houses in which they originated, and thus remain alive for the session. Friday was "first funnel” day for this year’s session, meaning that all bills had to be voted out of the committees in which they originated in order to remain viable for the session.

The two bills that will not see action in this year’s session are HSB 599/SSB 3175, which deals with the recording of claims related to mineral rights in real estate, and HSB 372, which would require electronic recording of the entire process of custodial interrogation. The former proposal was pulled by the ISBA because of drafting issues. The latter has created some concerns within the law enforcement community that need to be ironed out.

View the video by clicking on this link. It is found on the ISBA’s legislative page. While on the page, check out the ISBA’s Affirmative Legislative Program and other features.

ISBA’s legislative update program makes it easy to check out bills impacting the law practice

Last week’s "first funnel” in the Iowa Legislature weeded out some bills that the ISBA has been watching. Bills that didn’t make it out of the committee in the House or Senate where they originated are dead for the session.

The ISBA’s new legislative tracking system allows you to see what bills of interest to the type of law you practice are still alive. Click on this link to open a pdf. that lists those bills. The bills are categorized by the ISBA section that would be affected the most by their passage.

Clicking on the bill number on the left side of the document takes you to a screen that provides more detailed information about the bill, including its history, the position the ISBA has taken on it and a link to the full text of the bill. There is also a button on the screen entitled "Post Your Comments” that allows you to send a message to the ISBA with your thoughts on the bill.

Newest Iowa Lawyer magazine now online

The latest issue of the Iowa Lawyer magazine is now online and available via iPhone/iPad and Android phone/tablet apps. The online version typically is posted several days before the print version is received in the mail.

To read the magazine on the website, click here. To read it on your phone or tablet, click on the Iowa Lawyer app.

If you would like to add the Iowa Lawyer app to your smartphone or tablet, go to the appropriate store – iTunes or Play Store – and search for Iowa State Bar Association. The apps are free.

Slightly more than 15 percent of ISBA members have elected to read the magazine online only and not receive a printed copy. The content and layout are identical to the print version. If you would like to switch to the online version only, click on "Manage Profile” in the upper left corner on the ISBA website, click on "Edit Bio” and scroll down to "The Iowa Lawyer Magazine”  and select "Yes” in the box. Be sure to click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the screen when you finish. An email will be sent to all online subscribers notifying them that the new edition is online as soon as it is posted.

Mock Trial judges needed for high school regional competitions

Spring is just around the corner (hopefully!), and that means high school mock trial teams across the state will begin testing how well their hours of preparation have paid off as they compete with other teams in regional tournaments.

It also means that program director, John Wheeler, needs attorneys and judges in the communities where the regional competitions are held to evaluate the performances of the students. Attorneys and judges are best able to evaluate the students’ understanding of the legal concepts in the case, which is why it is so important to have legally-trained individuals doing the judging, Wheeler says.

Wheeler says a total of 110 teams will compete in eight regional tournaments for the 32 spots in the state tournament, which begins on March 26 this year. Those teams represent approximately 75 schools around the state.

The first regional competition is March 3 at Morningside College in Sioux City, followed by the competition at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City the following day. A competition on March 5 at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs rounds out the regional schedule for the first week of March.

To see the dates and locations for all regional competitions, click here. To sign up as a judge, click here. Information for judges, as well as a description of the this year’s case is available at this link. Wheeler stresses that you do not have to be a trial attorney to participate as a mock trial judge.

Judge McDonald sworn in as newest judge on Court of Appeals

Governor Terry Branstad administered the oath of office to new Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Lee McDonald yesterday (Feb. 25) in an investiture ceremony in the Supreme Court courtroom on the fourth floor of the judicial branch building.

ISBA President Guy Cook praised Judge McDonald for his "extraordinary work ethic” and for his legal scholarship. "Simply put, Judge McDonald is uniquely positioned, and superbly qualified, to lend his considerable skill, extensive experiences, and extraordinary intellect to this important court,” he said.

Chad Anderson, counsel for Wells Fargo & Company who has known Judge McDonald for 15 years, described the new judge as "incredibly smart” and "the hardest worker I’ve ever known.” He added that Judge McDonald "likes people, has faith in people and has hope in people.”

In his remarks after donning his robe with the help of his children, Judge McDonald told the assembled guests, after thanking all those who have helped him get where he is, that he has a song lyric that he tries to live by. The lyric states: "Never get high on your own supply.” The author of the lyric probably had something else in mind when he wrote it, he said to a burst of laughter in the courtroom.

A reception for the new judge followed at the ISBA headquarters building.

Warning to Windows XP users

April 8 is the day that Microsoft will end all support for its 12-year-old Windows XP operating system, which will leave XP users vulnerable to new security breaches. An estimated 37 percent of law firms still use Windows XP, according to a survey by the International Legal Technology Association.

In an article published in the ABA Journal’s Law News Now, security firms caution that hackers may be storing up bugs in the XP operating system that they can sell on the open market once Microsoft drops its support for the system. Law firms are major targets for hackers because of their "ethical responsibility to protect client privacy and their high visibility,” the article states.

Compounding the problem is that many software programs law firms currently use are not compatible with later versions of the Microsoft operating systems, namely Windows 7 or Windows 8. While it’s relatively inexpensive to upgrade from XP to Windows 8.1 Professional, for example, there are additional costs in upgrading the other programs and in training staff to use the newer versions of these programs.

Also, the primary cost associated with upgrading is not only in the upgrading of the software, but the computers themselves. Only the later generation XP machines have the speed, memory and video capabilities to be upgraded to Windows 7 or 8, so many firms will have to buy new computers.

The article contains several links to tools that can help law firms ease the transition. See the entire article and the links to the transition tools here.

New scam: Beware of communiqués from diplomats

ISBA member Bill Cleaver in Moline, Ill., sent the following message he received from a supposed "diplomat” a week ago as an example of yet another scam that is apparently being foisted on lawyers.

In an email message to Executive Director Dwight Dinkla, Cleaver simply stated: "My contribution to the scam list.” Below is the text of the message he received:

After we have series of meetings between the oil development in with United Nation and Members of Economic West African States(Eco was) and G8 Committee your file fell among the submitted list of beneficiaries to receive their consignment from United Nation this last delivery batch for the year 2010.

To get your consignment delivered at your doorstep address as agreed by United Nation,you will be required to forward to my Commission the followings: copy of your identification (either driver's license or Intl.passport copy), your office & home address, telephone numbers (including cell phone no. for effective communication) and also the name of your nearest Intl. airport to your city.

Please get back to me.
Diplomat Muhammad Hassan

YLD hosting Mardi Gras meet and greet to assist Drake law students

The Young Lawyers Division is teaming up with the Drake University Law School Student Bar Association to host a Mardi Gras party from 5:30 – 8 p.m. Tuesday (March 4) at Confluence Brewery in Des Moines.

Proceeds from the gathering will be used to help Drake law students who’ll be traveling to New Orleans to work with New Orleans Legal Aid in conjunction with the city’s pro bono project.

Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased via email at or at the door.

Did You Know...

the ISBA offers a list of vendors who supply services often needed by attorneys in its "Vendor Mall?” For a nominal charge, providers such as court reporters, process servers, and even computer handware and software companies, can list their services. Check out the list of providers in the Vendor Mall on the bar’s website, or go to the home page, hover your mouse on "Practice Tools” and click on "Vendor Mall” near the bottom of the menu.

Benefit of the Week

CLE Season Pass

Receive all of your CLE credits by using The Iowa State Bar Association’s affordable CLE Season Pass. It’s the one and only pass that offers hundreds of CLE credits at the best price in town! For only $550, you can take all the CLE credits you need in a 12 month span. Sign up for the Season Pass today and have the opportunity to choose from over 200 hours of live CLEs in addition to the 20 hours of telephone CLEs the ISBA offers.

Click here for more information or to order your pass online. For a printable order form, please click here.

Iowa Supreme Court Decisions

February 21, 2014

No. 12-1377

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Terry R. Rickers, Judge.

Taxpayers appealed review board’s dismissal of their tax protest. District court granted summary judgment in favor of board. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED.

No. 13-1336
IN THE INTEREST OF A.M., Minor Child, A.M., Father Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F.

Flaherty, District Associate Judge.

The State seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing a juvenile court order terminating parental rights. COURT OF APPEALS DECISION VACATED; JUVENILE COURT ORDER AFFIRMED.