Iowa Lawyer Weekly (03/19/2014)
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March 19, 2014
Past Issues

Annual meeting registration, room reservations now available

Registration for what organizers are calling the biggest and best annual meeting ever is now available for attorneys. (Judges will receive registration information from the judicial branch shortly.) In addition, special rates have been arranged with nearby hotels for meeting goers.

Sponsored jointly with the Iowa Judges Association, the 2014 Annual Meeting will cover four days, starting on Monday (June 16) with CLE sessions at 12:30 p.m. It will end at 4:50 p.m. on Thursday (June 19) with the ISBA’s 2nd Annual Tech Show. In between will be offerings of approximately 60 CLE credit hours, a number of social gatherings, several fun events and lots of time and room to talk shop with fellow attorneys and judges.

This year’s annual meeting will take advantage of the spacious rooms and common areas in the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (formerly known as Veterans Auditorium) in Downtown Des Moines. The facility has been completely remodeled into a top-tier convention center and will easily accommodate the 800-plus attendees that organizers hope to see at this year’s meeting.

"The 2014 annual meeting will be a grand affair like you’ve never experienced before and can’t afford to miss,” promises ISBA President Guy Cook. "If you haven't seen the totally remodeled Vets Auditorium, you must see it. You will be amazed. The facility alone adds a dimension to the annual meeting that hasn’t been seen in many years.”

Attorneys can look at the schedule and register here. Judges, as mentioned above, will receive registration information directly from the judicial branch.

While on the registration page, you can access hotel information in the blue panel on the left side of the page, or by clicking here.

New ethics opinion focuses on Windows XP and computer security

The ISBA’s Ethics and Practice Guidelines Committee has issued a new ethics opinion, 14-01, clarifying the responsibility attorneys have for safeguarding client information. The opinion provides guidance in light of Microsoft’s announcement that it will stop supporting the Windows XP operating system on April 8.

Cyber security firms are concerned that hackers may take advantage of the company’s discontinued support, including security patches, for the 12-year-old operating system. A survey by the International Legal Technology Association estimates that 37 percent of law firms still use Windows XP, in part because many of the software programs they use are not compatible with later versions of the Windows operating system.

The new opinion refers back to Ethics Opinion 11-01. That opinion requires lawyers to engage in a "due diligence process which assesses the realistic potential for risk, the damage which could be caused thereby and the estimated cost of remediation.”

Opinion 14-01 points out that the security status change for the Microsoft XP operating system "highlights the fact that the duty of due diligence in assessing system security is an ongoing one; programs and procedures which were secure two years ago may not be secure now,” and places the responsibility for needed changes in the hands of individual law firms.

View the complete opinion.

Client Security Commission reimbursements total more than $150,000 for 2013

During 2013, the Iowa Client Security Commission authorized payment on 17 requests for reimbursement, exceeding $153,000 to victims of misdeeds by four Iowa attorneys. The commission authorized payment on the following claims during 2013:

  • Fourteen claims in the total amount of $150,000.00 based on the actions of lawyer Susan Hense. Hense's license to practice law in Iowa has been revoked.
  • One claim in the amount of $2,200 based on the actions of lawyer Steven A. Stefani. Stefani's license to practice law in Iowa has been suspended.

  • One claim in the amount of $750 based on the actions of lawyer David L. Strand. Strand's license to practice law in Iowa has been revoked.
  • One claim in the amount of $431.06 based on the actions of lawyer Vicki L. Ryan. Ryan's license to practice law in Iowa has been suspended.

The total amount of money approved for claims and the number of claims approved by the commission during 2013 exceed the claims experience in most prior years.

The entire 16-page report filed by the Iowa Client Security Commission with the supreme court yesterday (March 18) may be viewed here.

Judges needed for High School Mock Trial State Tournament next week

Thirty two teams of high school students from around the state who are participating in the high school mock trial program will descend on Des Moines next Wednesday (March 26) to compete in the 33rd Annual High School Mock Trial State Tournament. That means lots of judges are needed to evaluate student performance in their roles as attorneys and witnesses in the competitions, says John Wheeler, director of the ISBA’s Center for Law and Civic Education and coordinator of the mock trial program.

Each team will compete in three preliminary rounds of competition with the first round starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (formerly Veterans Auditorium). The remaining two rounds will be held at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday (March 27). Semi-finals and finals will be held on Friday (March 28) at the judicial branch building.

Each preliminary round features 16 individual competitions. Three judges are needed for each competition, which translates into 48 judges per round, or 144 judges for the three rounds.

Wheeler says some judges have already signed up for slots in the preliminary rounds, but many more are needed. He asks ("begs” might be a more appropriate word) that you sign up for one or more of the competitions if at all possible. You don’t have to be a trial attorney to be a mock trial judge.

To sign up, click here, or send Wheeler an email at To learn more about this year’s case and what you need to do as a judge, click on this link.

David L. Brown receives honorary doctorate from Illinois State University

Longtime ISBA member and current state delegate to the ABA, David L. Brown, recently was honored with an Honorary Doctorate Law Degree from Illinois State University located in Normal, Ill. The degree was conferred during the school’s Founders Day on Feb. 20.

Brown has strong ties to the university. His father, Dr. Francis R. Brown, graduated from Illinois State and later taught and was an administrator at the school for many years. The Brown Ballroom on campus is named for his family.

View a video of the awards ceremony, including Brown’s acceptance speech, here.

Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Toledo April 9

Justices from the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday (April 9) at the Wieting Theatre, 101 South Church Street in Toledo. The session is open to the public.

The court will hear arguments in two cases -- State of Iowa v. Nathan Olsen, No. 13-0832 and Hussemann v. Hussemann, No. 13-1082. The Olsen case involves the question of whether defendant Nathan Olson violated Iowa Code section 724.26 for possessing a firearm when he had a deferred judgment for firearm possession in Wisconsin. Olsen argues that his deferred judgment from Wisconsin did not involve a guilty plea or finding of guilt against him.

The Hussemann case involves the question of whether a couple’s freedom to contract a postnuptial agreement entered in Florida outweighs Iowa’s public policy against postnuptial agreements. At issue is whether the district court gave effect to an out-of-state postnuptial agreement and denied the widow the right to an elective share of her deceased husband’s trust as provided in Iowa Code section 633.238.

2015 law school rankings

The University of Iowa College of Law is 27th, Drake University Law School is 113th and Creighton University School of Law is 115th in the recently released 2015 law school rankings by U.S. News and World Report. In addition, The National Law Journal compiled data showing the 10 law schools that saw their rankings increase the most from 2013-2014, and the 10 schools whose rankings declined the most from last year to this year.

The annual rankings of the 194 law schools fully accredited by the ABA are based on a weighted average of 12 measures of quality. The measures of quality include Quality Assessment, Selectivity, Bar Passage Rate, Faculty Resources and Placement Success. Data for this year’s rankings were collected last fall and early this year.

View the rankings of all 194 accredited schools here.

The University of New Hampshire School of Law had the largest increase in its ranking from 2013-2014 with a jump of 26. Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kans., was second with a jump of 25.

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law had the greatest decline in its ranking with a 27. See the schools with the greatest increase and greatest decline in rankings here.

Did You Know...

as an ISBA member you are entitled to use the LawPay credit card processing program? The program allows you to accept all major credit cards from your clients. It also has the ability to separate funds that must go into your trust account from your operating account. And, it provides 100 percent protection of your trust account. Click here to learn more. Or go to the ISBA website and click on "Member Benefits” under the "Practice Tools” tab, then scroll down to "Credit Card Processing Service.”

Benefit of the Week


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Iowa Supreme Court Decisions

March 14, 2014

No. 13-0869

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hanson, Judge.

Petitioner appeals district court ruling affirming license revocation and rejecting prescription-drug defense in administrative proceeding. REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 13-1510

On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa.

Review of a report filed by the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa recommending the suspension of an attorney’s license. LICENSE REVOKED.