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    April 20, 2016
Past Issues  

ISBA legislative team reports progress, requests support

The ISBA legislative team reports positive news as the legislative session draws to a close. This week, the Iowa House passed the judicial branch appropriations bill (HF2457) and the justice systems appropriations bill (HF2458) which will likely to be substituted with redrafted, companion senate study bills.

Companion justice appropriations senate study bill (
SSB 3186) provides $2.4 million to legal services, $29.6 million to fund indigent defense and allows the Iowa State Public Defender to operate a pilot project that allows defendants to choose their own attorneys. Companion judicial branch appropriations senate study bill (SSB 3187) provides $178.6 million to the Iowa Judicial Branch and $3.1 million for jury and witness funds, a status-quo budget for the judicial branch. We have been informed by the court that this may result in furlough days. The court has been seeking $5.7 million in additional funding to maintain current service levels. In addition, the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund appropriations bill (
SF 2324) contains $6.72 million for furniture and equipment for the Polk County Justice Center; however the House version of the RIIF bill currently only appropriates 3.36 million.

Last week, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed three additional bills on The ISBA’s 2016 Affirmative Legislative Agenda: house file
2335, that includes new Iowa Trust Code section 633A.1109, "Methods and Waiver of Notice”; House file 2270, that amends the definition of "parent” in Iowa Code Section 232.2(39) to include a father whose paternity has been legally established by operation of law; and senate file 2233, an amended version of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody & Visitation Act that addresses issues of child custody and visitation that arise when parents are deployed in military or other national service.

Members are urged to contact their House of Representative and Senate members to support the bills on the current affirmative legislative program as the legislature is expected to adjourn this week or next week. Visit the
legislators contact page for phone numbers and email addresses. For details regarding the status of other ISBA legislation, review the most current ISBA Legislative Report.

Senator Grassley receives American Bar Association Justice Award

ABA President Paulette Brown presented Senator Charles Grassley and three other members of Congress with the American Bar Association Justice Award during the ABA Day Conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, April 19.

Grassley was presented the award for his bipartisan support on a variety of issues of importance to the legal profession and the administration of justice, including his leadership on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, an historic criminal justice reform bill that he led through the Judiciary Committee.

Other members of congress recognized with the award include Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

ABA Day is a three-day conference that brings together leaders of the ABA and state and local bars from across the country to take the message of lawyers to Congress. Each year, ABA leaders take to the Hill to advocate on behalf of the profession on issues of great importance. In addition to meeting with members of Congress, ABA Day is also a time to honor select ABA advocates and members of congress for their commitment to "Justice for All."


Drake program provides free legal assistance to nonprofits, startups

By Joe Gardyasz, Business Record senior staff writer

A relatively new program within the Drake Legal Clinic at Drake University is providing free legal resources for nonprofits and small businesses while giving valuable experience to Drake law students.

Launched less than three years ago, the Transactional Business and Nonprofits Clinic has provided pro bono legal assistance to more than 150 Central Iowa nonprofit organizations and approximately 25 small business clients.

"It’s a win-win-win all around,” said Chip Lowe, who has run the Transactional Business and Nonprofits Clinic since it was launched in July 2013. Lowe, who has 37 years of legal experience, was in private practice in Urbandale prior to joining the Drake faculty.

Read the full article

Certified interpreters: Allies in preserving the attorney-client relationship

By Rachel Albin, Albin Bilingual Services, L.L.C.

The value of an attorney’s work is not just in her knowledge of the law, but in her professionalism and ethics. The same is true for interpreters. Aside from our language capabilities, certified court interpreters are trained and tested on the ethics of our profession, many of which mirror attorney ethics and values. Iowa Supreme Court-certified interpreters abide by a code of ethics spelled out in Iowa Court Rules Chapter 48. Below are explanations on how certified interpreters’ professional standards preserve the attorney-client relationships, some potential complications presented by using untrained interpreters and how to identify a certified interpreter. 

Supreme Court Opinions
April 15

No. 14–0640



No. 14–1615

STATE OF IOWA vs. MARK GABRIEL MARTIN A defendant in a criminal case contends the district court should have declared a mistrial or granted a new trial because the prosecutor repeatedly exceeded the scope of permissible voir dire questioning and thereby tainted the entire jury pool. COURT OF APPEALS DECISION AND DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

No. 15–1169

NICK C. RHOADES vs. STATE OF IOWA Plaintiff appeals the district court’s award of summary judgment to the State of Iowa in a wrongful imprisonment action. AFFIRMED.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued orders granting or denying applications for further review in 40 cases.


In Other News ...

Lawmakers revisit unpaid court obligations

Iowa lawmakers are looking to strengthen efforts to collect delinquent court debt, but concede that much of the $682 million in unpaid fines and fees dating back for decades will never be recouped from convicted criminals with no or limited ability to pay. "It’s a big deal,” said Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington, who chaired a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that approved a measure (Senate Study Bill 3182) designed to bolster upgraded efforts to enlist county attorneys and a private collection agency in trying to collect past-due obligations.

Ames Tribune

Lawmakers say budget means fewer troopers, guards

Key House and Senate appropriators warned that budgets totaling nearly $1 billion aren’t enough to maintain proper staffing of Iowa’s courts, prisons and public safety agencies. "I think I share sentiments with most of us that this a disappointing outcome,” House Justice Systems Chairman Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, said about the budget — $181.7 million for the court system and another $748.2 million for the departments of Corrections and Public Safety. "But this is what we have to deal with at this point in time.” Although the Judicial Branch asked for $5.6 million to maintain current services and $2.3 million for judicial salary adjustments, its budget is unchanged from the current year.

Quad-City Times

Lawmakers mull 'textalyzer' bill that would let cops test cellphones to ID distracted drivers

Some say distracted driving by those who are texting behind the wheel is every bit as dangerous as drunken driving. Enter the "textalyzer.” This piece of technology—which is still under development—would be to the distracted driver what the breathalyzer is to those who have had a few too many—a device used by police to determine whether there is cause to proceed with a criminal case.

ABA Journal

Family of immigrants, only one a citizen, anxiously awaits Supreme Court ruling
Jerry Pinto, an immigrant from Bolivia, has visions of opening a spacious carpentry workshop in this suburban city, with his name in bold letters over the door. "I want a place where I can be visible,” he says wistfully. But for now he knows he has to lie low, because he is in the country illegally. He runs his carpentry business almost surreptitiously from the cramped garage behind his house. Mr. Pinto is among more than four million unauthorized immigrants whose lives could be transformed by the Supreme Court. On Monday, the justices will hear oral arguments in a challenge brought by 26 states, led by Texas, to President Obama’s effort through executive action to give the immigrants legal work permits and protection from deportation.
The New York Times