Iowa Lawyer Weekly (04/01/15)
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April 1, 2015
Past Issues

President-elect Walker, Board of Governors issue challenge grant

At the March 25 Board of Governors quarterly meeting held last Wednesday, ISBA President-elect Bruce Walker and the BOG committed to match an amount of $5,800 in contributions and pledges made to the Iowa Legal Aid Foundation at this year’s Equal Justice After Hours event. At the event March 26, Walker, with his spouse Dedi, announced this year's ISBA challenge grant. The challenge grant was created in 2010 to highlight the important relationship between the ISBA and Iowa Legal Aid.

"As a result of the commitment made by the Board of Governors,” Walker stated, "the challenge grant issued at this year’s Equal Justice After Hours raised an additional $5,800 for this deserving endeavor. The Board of Governors members are to be congratulated for their generosity.”

Also during the event, Dave (former chairman and CEO, The Principal Financial Group) and Trudy Hurd were inducted into the Iowa Legal Aid Hall of Fame. The Hurds were recognized as champions for fairness and justice in Iowa. They shared some of their thoughts on philanthropy and active leadership via a brief video. Roxanne Conlin remarked during their induction on the impact the Hurds have made through their support of important work that enriches the lives of people living in central Iowa.

Number of Iowa civil jury trials continues to decline

At the quarterly Board of Governor’s meeting March 25, the ISBA legislative team presented statistics recently compiled by the State Court Administrator’s Office. The information shows a continued decline in civil jury trials in Iowa District Courts. In 2014, across the state there were only 184 civil cases with jury verdicts entered.

Notable observations include the fact that during 2014, there were 13 Iowa counties where no trial verdict was entered in Iowa District Court whatsoever, civil or criminal. In total, 61 counties had three or fewer jury verdicts.

To see the complete table with jury verdicts entered in Iowa District Courts during 2014 by county, click here. To see a graph that reflects civil and criminal jury trials in Iowa District Courts over the last 19 years, click here. The data captured by the State Court Administrator’s Office during the last six years do not include cases in which a jury trial began, but ended in a settlement, guilty plea, or hung jury before a verdict was entered.

Additional estimated data may reflect the changing workload of Iowa District Courts as it relates to civil litigation. For example, civil case information complied by the State Court Administrator’s Office shows an increase in the following case types: divorce and modification of divorce, domestic abuse, landlord/tenant forcible entry and detainers and adult mental health commitment petitions. To see the complete table of statewide civil case filings from 2004 – 2014, click here.

Help needed to give law students rural summer opportunities

The ISBA’s Rural Practice Committee is asking any rural attorney who would be willing to hire a student for the summer to please contact the committee.

Presently there are 57 students from Creighton University, Drake University and the University of Iowa who are interested in a rural summer clerkship and have posted their resumes on the Rural Practice Committee’s webpage. The committee would like to give as many of those students as possible an opportunity to experience law practice in a rural community. At present, only four students have been hired.

A couple of financial assistance programs are available to students who are hired by rural attorneys that could help the attorneys with the cash outlay for hiring students for the summer. The ISBA Board of Governors authorized a grant program that reimburses students up to $500 for lodging, travel and other out-of-pocket expenses. The Iowa State Bar Foundation funded a grant that allows students to receive a stipend of $1,000 or $1,500 (depending on the number who apply) in exchange for working at least 50 hours on Iowa Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyers Project activities.

More information about the two financial assistance programs is available on the rural practice webpage here. Details about the summer rural clerkship program, including the benefits of participating, frequently asked questions and a list of student resumes are available on the same webpage.

Contact the committee co-chairs Phil Garland, at 641-923-3792 or, and Amy Skogerson, at 515-996-4045 or You can also contact Steve Boeckman, liaison to the committee, at 515-490-2279 or


Iowa Supreme Court Justices to hear oral arguments, meet area students in Decorah next week

Members of the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases next Wednesday evening, April 8, in Decorah, Iowa. While in the Decorah area, the justices will meet with students from seven high schools and two colleges to discuss the Iowa judicial system and the role of the courts.

The supreme court will hold oral arguments at 7 p.m. in the Decorah High School Auditorium, 100 Claiborne Drive, Decorah. Lawyers will argue two cases:

State of Iowa vs. Tyler James Webster, case no. 13-1095, from Jefferson County
Defendant Tyler Webster appealed his conviction of murder in the second degree on the grounds of juror misconduct, including that the juror did not disclose a familiarity with the victim's family. The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed Webster's conviction and granted a new trial. The Iowa Supreme Court granted the State's Application for Further Review. The State argues that Webster waived his claim of juror misconduct when he did not raise the issue during the trial.

State of Iowa vs. Patience Paye, case no. 14-0183, from Black Hawk County
Defendant Patience Paye appeals her conviction for second offense public intoxication, arguing that the front steps of her home do not constitute a "public place" for purposes of the public intoxication statute. Iowa Code section 123.46 (2013). The Iowa Supreme Court has previously held that the front steps and common hallway of an apartment house do constitute public places, but it has not extended that analysis to a single family home.

The justices will visit high school students from Decorah, Waukon, Oelwein, New Hampton, Waverly, Calmar, and Cresco, and meet with college students from Luther College and Northeast Iowa Community College April 8-9.

To read more about the visit including time schedules at the schools and attorney briefs for the two cases, view the Iowa court’s press release on

Drake Law 150th digital display online

The Drake University Law Library created a digital display to celebrate the Drake Law School’s 150th Anniversary. "Drake Law School: 150 Years of Preparing Students,” commemorates the achievements of successful students, outstanding faculty, distinguished alumni and more.

Included in the digital display of Drake Law School accomplishments is the L1 student revision of the Iowa Lawyer’s Oath. To experience the digital display and see a photograph of the Drake L1 students who wrote the current Iowa Lawyer’s Oath in 2005, click here. The digital display links to the May 2005 Iowa Lawyer Magazine article by Professor Roxann Ryan, "Iowa’s highest court and ISBA BOG endorse the effort and the result – Students propose statutory changes in Iowa Lawyer’s Oath.” To access the article along with Iowa Lawyer’s Oath, click here.

Marion Home School wins 2015 High School Mock Trial championship

A team of students from Marion Home School triumphed over runners-up from Robins, Iowa, to win the final championship in the 2015 High School Mock Trial State Tournament Thursday, March 26.

As state champions, the 9-member Marion, Iowa, team will travel to Raleigh, N.C., May 14-16 to compete in the national tournament.

During the mock trial competition, the teams argued a fictional, civil case stemming from the alleged pollution of a creek and groundwater by a windmill manufacturing plant. The winning team acted as the plaintiffs in the case and were challenged to prove that the manufacturing plant was negligent in releasing noxious fumes and toxic chemicals causing liver cancer in one family member and autism in a young child.

The decision on which team won the case was close, according to John Wheeler, director of The Iowa State Bar Association’s Center for Law and Civic Education which administers the mock trial program as part of the ISBA’s Young Lawyers Division.

A total of 32 teams out of the 106 teams from across the state who participated in this year’s high school mock trial program competed in the state tournament. They landed a place in the state tournament based on their performances in one of the eight regional tournaments earlier this spring.

A complete list of results can be found here. For any questions or to participate in future mock trial competitions, contact John Wheeler at or 515-697-7882.


In Other News ...

Meet Sioux City lawyer Paul Deck, still practicing at age 100
Today Paul Deck will attend church at First United Methodist as he and wife Marie do every Sunday. Then a little grocery shopping. Then lunch. Then a walk, if the weather is nice. Then TV and probable calls from clients. Then pedaling for 20 minutes on that stationary bike in the spare bedroom. Today will be like any other Sunday for the oldest practicing lawyer in Nebraska and Iowa, even though today Paul Deck turns 100 years old.
The Omaha World-Herald

Determining an appropriate sentence for juveniles convicted of 1st degree murder
Iowa has a law mandating life in prison without parole for teen killers, but this law is deemed unconstitutional by both the U.S. and the Iowa Supreme Courts. A proposal moving through Iowa’s legislature would modify the state’s current law mandating life in prison for juveniles convicted of murder. The legislation gives judges three sentencing options. One of those options is still life in prison without parole.
Iowa Public Radio

Iowa’s highest court: damage by rainwater is damage by rain
Last July, we posted that an intermediate level appellate court in Iowa had held that a policy excluding loss "caused by rain” did not bar coverage for loss occasioned by the non-excluded peril of "rainwater.” On Friday, the state’s highest court threw cold water on such nonsense, holding that there was no distinction between rain and rainwater for coverage purposes. No justice disagreed, though the court split 4-3 on another issue.
JDSupra Business Advisor

Suit makes legal waves
The lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works against supervisors in three Northwest Iowa counties has generated plenty of animosity, and it also has the potential to generate a few legal waves. "It’s a really novel lawsuit,” says Kristine Tidgren, staff attorney at the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.

How several key cases shaped Iowa forfeiture laws
A body of case law that has evolved over the years dictates what law enforcement agencies in Iowa and elsewhere in the U.S. can and can't do when seizing property during minor traffic stops or investigations into suspected drug crimes.
The Des Moines Register

Transgender in Iowa: know your rights
The ACLU of Iowa and other advocacy organizations are offering free know-your-rights sessions in Des Moines and Iowa City for both transgender individuals and for attorneys.
ACLU of Iowa News


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.


Legislative Report - April 1

March 27, 2015

No. 14–1201
On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the
Supreme Court of Iowa.

Respondent appeals from the grievance commission’s findings of
ethical violations and its recommendation of a four-year suspension. LICENSE SUSPENDED.

No. 14–1988
On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the
Supreme Court of Iowa.

The grievance commission reports respondent committed ethical
violations and recommends the revocation of the attorney’s license. LICENSE REVOKED.



The ISBA maintains an active career center bringing attorneys and employers together online. Whether you have a legal position you need to fill or you’re looking for a career in the legal industry, the career center can help. Job seekers may search and apply for the listed jobs or post their resumes on the site for free. If you are looking to hire, job listings are available for a nominal fee. Jobs listed in the career center are also listed in the Iowa Lawyer Magazine’s classifieds section.

Please click here to visit the career center. For questions, contact the ISBA Communications Department at or 515-697-7896.