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April 15, 2015
Past Issues

ALERT: Clerks’ offices to close again, judicial employees to be laid off?

This week, ISBA leadership was notified that the Iowa Judicial Branch may not receive any new money from the Iowa Legislature for fiscal year 2016. If this occurs, the state will likely re-live a situation similar to Fiscal Year 2010 when clerks’ offices were put on part-time status, 12 percent of the workforce was laid off, travel restrictions were placed on all court personnel and court dockets were delayed.

In response to the news, State Court Administrator David Boyd prepared a memo for judicial branch personnel and others regarding the status of the budget. The memo, available here, provides a breakdown of the budget with expectation details if the situation remains unchanged.

ISBA leadership encourages members to contact Iowa legislators to tell them to keep clerks’ offices open. The Iowa Judicial Branch has done more in the last few years to operate efficiently than any other branch of government; presently, the courts operate with more than 100 fewer employees than in 2009. Those efforts should not go unrecognized. Legislator contact information can be found on the legislative branch website here. Act now to keep court resources available for all Iowans.

Grassley makes official recommendation to fill two federal judge vacancies

Based on recommendations from Iowa’s Judicial Selection Commission, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley officially announced late last evening his candidate recommendations to fill two federal judge vacancies. His recommendations included Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger, a current district judge in Polk County, for the southern district and Leonard Strand, a U.S. magistrate judge in Sioux City, Iowa, for the northern district.

The two vacancies open up this year as Chief Judge James E. Gritzner and former Chief Judge Mark W. Bennett take senior status. Traditionally, U.S. Senators give their recommendations of federal judge candidates to the president. Anticipating the two vacancies, Grassley assembled the Judicial Selection Commission to assist in identifying Iowa’s best candidates.

The commission was led by Cynthia Moser, ISBA past president and attorney from Sioux City. Other commission members included Richard Sapp, Jeffrey Goodman, Harlan D. Hockenberg and Adam Freed. The commission interviewed all 39 applicants and conducted follow-up interviews with 11 of the top-qualifying candidates.

"Without a doubt,” Grassley wrote in his statement, "the commissioners’ own experience, expertise and commitment to an exhaustive process made possible a review and analysis that was extraordinary by any measure.

"These two Iowans are well suited to honor Iowa’s judicial legacy and serve our state, nation and constitution with distinction in lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary.”

To read the senator’s full statement, click here.

ISBA section leadership openings

ISBA President-elect Bruce Walker is seeking to fill vacancies on many section councils for the upcoming fiscal year beginning in June. Section council appointments are for a term of three years with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

This fiscal year, vacancies exist on the following section councils:

· Administrative Law
· Agricultural Law
· Alternative Dispute Resolution
· Business Law
· Commercial and Bankruptcy
· Construction Law
· eCommerce
· Environmental & Natural Resources
· General Practice
· Government Practice
· Health Law
· Intellectual Property Law
· International Law
· Real Estate & Title Law
· Taxation
· Trade Regulation
· Workers’ Compensation

Section council members set policies and serve as the governing body for the section. Section council members on occasion will review proposed legislation and provide comments to our legislative counsel. Section council members may also be asked to assist in planning CLE programs.

Members of sections with vacancies received emails late last week. If you would like to be considered for appointment to serve a three-year term on the section council, please indicate your interest by responding to the email no later than April 21.

While not everyone can be appointed, all who seek appointment will be considered. Individuals with questions may contact the ISBA at


Iowa Lawyer Magazine available online now

A special edition of the Iowa Lawyer Magazine is now available online. Members who elect to receive the Iowa Lawyer in print should expect their copy of the magazine through the U.S. Postal Service in the next few days. This issue focuses on the upcoming annual meeting.

Members interested in viewing the online version of the magazine can do so by navigating to, clicking on "Publications,” then "Iowa Lawyer Magazine.” Those who no longer wish to receive the printed version of the magazine can elect to receive it electronically by navigating to their account settings and selecting "yes” for the "Iowa Lawyer Magazine Online” option.

The Iowa Lawyer is free online or in print to ISBA members as part of their annual dues and is delivered eight times annually. The magazine informs members on issues, events and developments in the law specific to Iowa that impact their practices and their lives as attorneys.

Questions regarding the Iowa Lawyer Magazine can be directed to the ISBA Communications Department at or 515-697-7898.

HF 172 passed unanimously by Iowa House, Senate

A bill from the ISBA’s 2015 Affirmative Legislation Program, House File 172, passed unanimously by both the Iowa House and Senate. The bill updates the Revised Iowa Nonprofit Corporation Act, Iowa Code Chapter 504.

After enrollment, the bill will be presented to the president of the senate and the speaker of the house. Then once certified, it will continue to the governor for signature. To see the proposed updates to chapter 504, click here. Most amendments are based on the Model Nonprofit Corporation Act, Third Edition, published by the American Business Law Section Nonprofit Organizations Committee.

The annual Bridge the Gap Seminar organized by the ISBA YLD, scheduled for May 14-15, will include a legislative update with Sen. Robert Hogg. Members can click here to register online and view the most up-to-date schedule, or click here for a printable registration form. For any questions, members can contact the ISBA CLE Department at or 515-697-7874.

For more ISBA CLE opportunities, including the 2015 Annual Meeting, click here to read the newest Iowa Lawyer Magazine focusing on annual meeting.

11th Annual Dean's Cup fundraiser for Iowa Legal Aid

The 11th Annual Dean’s Cup fundraiser for Iowa Legal Aid is less than a month away. This event is for all golfers affiliated with Drake Law School or the University of Iowa College of Law – of every skill level – to support their law school while raising funds for Iowa Legal Aid. This year’s challenge will take place May 18 at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa.

The event includes two formats – match play and best shot. Attorneys who are not graduates of either law school may participate in the best shot competition by declaring temporary allegiance to either law school when registering. Golfers can be added to the ‘Dean’s List’ for Drake or the University of Iowa when they contribute $25 or more to support Iowa Legal Aid. The school with the longest ‘Dean’s List’ will receive an advantage in the best-shot competition

The registration fee is partially tax deductible. To sign up and secure your spot in the 2015 Dean’s Cup Challenge, or indicate interest in being a sponsor, click here.

In Other News ...

ISIS fears justify unemployment, Iowa judge rules
The fear of an ISIS attack and an Iowa company's failure to provide armed escorts to two employees in Saudi Arabia created an intolerable work condition, a judge has ruled. Administrative Law Judge Julie Elder last month awarded unemployment benefits to Kim Betts, a Field Service Engineer for Rockwell Collins, because of the conditions.
The Des Moines Register

Regulating telemedicine is ‘complicated’
Two robots sit at both Mercy Medical Center in Clinton and the Grinnell Regional Medical Center. Since 2012, these robots have brought neurology experts from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics to stroke patients' bedsides. The wireless robots offer two-way video conferencing that allow neurologists to ask patients questions and gather clinical information. The UI neurologist and emergency room physician can then determine the severity of the stroke and whether the patient should be transferred to Iowa City for further treatment.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette

Court: Iowa eminent domain laws must be strictly followed
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that county officials failed to follow state law when preparing to condemn more than 2,000 acres of farmland to build a lake, a decision that puts government agencies on notice that mistakes in eminent domain cases could be costly. Owners of the farmland near Osceola challenged the Clarke County Reservoir Commission's plan to condemn the property to build the 800-acre lake to provide a new drinking water source for the area.
The Des Moines Register

High court ‘road show’ gives Iowans glimpse of justices’ work
With a bit of time to kill -- and for a few moments not fielding questions from assistants or checking phone messages -- Chief Justice Mark Cady explored his surroundings. In a wire locker, he noticed props apparently also waiting for an appearance on stage at Decorah High School. A gavel and wooden block to pound it on were obvious in one compartment.
The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

Valuing and selling a firm takes time, matchmaker skills
Selling a law practice is akin to a dating game for solo and smaller-firm practitioners. Finding the right buyer who fits with a particular seller doesn’t happen overnight. "Generally, for a lawyer who decides he or she is going to sell, the process starts with being careful to reveal just enough information to pique a prospective buyer’s interest in learning more about you and your business,” says Ed Poll, a lawyer who has been helping other lawyers sell and buy firms since 1990.
The ABA Journal

The Register’s Editorial: 14 facts to weigh in Water Works lawsuit
The Des Moines Water Works' lawsuit against three north-central Iowa counties over water pollution won't be heard in court for some time. But the issue is already being fiercely litigated in the court of public opinion, where fact and fiction mix together. The defendant counties have not yet officially answered the Water Works' allegations, but the defenders of Iowa agriculture have weighed in, often misstating the utility's motivation for turning to the federal courts for relief.
The Des Moines Register


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 15

April 10, 2015

No. 13-0618

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Richard H. Davidson, Judge. The defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his conviction of third-degree burglary. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 14-0494

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger, Judge. An ethanol producer appeals after the Iowa Department of Revenue and the district court both concluded Iowa’s excise tax on natural gas delivery is constitutional. AFFIRMED.

No. 14-0774

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clarke County, Sherman W. Phipps, Judge. Landowners appeal district court’s declaratory judgment under Iowa Code section 6A.24(2). REVERSED AND REMANDED.

No. 14-1522

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D. Farrell, Judge. A bank appeals a district court decision permitting the payment of receivership expenses out of property in which it had a prior perfected security interest. REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

No. 14-1542

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Mary Pat Gunderson, Judge. A bank appeals a district court decision permitting the payment of receivership expenses out of property in which it has a prior perfected security interest. REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

No. 14-2093

On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa. The grievance commission reports an attorney violated several rules of professional conduct and recommends suspension. LICENSE SUSPENDED.



Caselaw Update is a free email service that keeps you abreast of recent cases that have been added to the ISBA’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.

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