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April 29, 2015
Past Issues

National study of the best lawyer mentors launched

A team of law professors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law, has launched a national study of the best law mentors in the country. The authors’ stated goal is to identify attorney mentors who work with young lawyers to transform their careers and their lives, study those mentors in depth and understand why they are so effective. Based on this research, they will identify and describe a set of behaviors, attitudes and habits that are characteristic of the best law mentors.

"We hope to produce a work that is a manual for attorneys who aspire to be transformative mentors, a resource for legal employers for hiring and training mentors and a tool young lawyers might use to find good mentors,” said Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, one of the four professors working on the project. The authors have signed a contract with Harvard University Press to publish the book in 2019.

The authors will solicit nominations, gather evidence of nominees’ excellence and pare the list to the most extraordinary legal mentors. They will then study the mentors where they work, interviewing both the mentors and focus groups of current and former mentees. They also hope to observe mentoring interactions. The authors plan to then sift through the information they have gathered, identify what the best mentors have in common and areas of important difference, and organize the book by the common themes identified through this process.

Right now, the authors are seeking nominees for their study via a website they have established, The web provides details about the project, the authors and their methodology.

For more information about the project, click here. If you wish to nominate a mentor for the study, please click here.

ISBA Affirmative Legislative Program bill no. SF451 passed

A bill from the ISBA’s 2015 Affirmative Legislation Program, Senate File 451, was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor April 17. The bill amends Iowa Code Chapter 232 by adding section 103A. Under the new section, the juvenile court may close a child in need of assistance case by transferring jurisdiction over the child’s custody, physical care and visitation to the district court through a bridge order.

When certain criteria are met, any party to a CINA proceeding, or the juvenile court, may file a motion for a bridge order. Section 103A requires that bridge orders only address matters of custody, physical care and visitation. A party may file a petition in district court for modification of the bridge order within one year of the filing date of the bridge order. Within the one year period, the party requesting the modification must demonstrate that the modification is in the best interest of the child and is not required to demonstrate a substantial change of circumstances.

In addition, no filing fees or other court costs will be assessed against the parties in relation to the transfer of jurisdiction or a petition for modification within one year of the filing date of the bridge order.

For more information, see the enrolled bill here.


61st Annual Spring Tax Institute to be held May 8

Samuel A. Donaldson, professor of law at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Ga., will keynote this year’s 61st annual institute May 8 at the University Club in Iowa City.

A distinguished professor and author, Donaldson has also taught at Northwestern University School of Law, University of Washington School of Law and the University of Florida Levin College of Law. He will present for a total of three hours in the morning of the day-long institute. Topics throughout the day include: "Burning Questions (and Even Hotter Answers) About Grantor Trusts”(1.5 hours), "New Power of Attorney Act” (0.75 hours), "Spousal Rights & Spousal Planning” (1 hour), "Digital Assets Bill” (0.75 hours), "Tax Ethics Panel” (1 hour), and "Federal Tax Update” (1.5 hours).

Speakers presenting in the afternoon are Matt Gardner, Gardner Law; Kyle Irvin, Corbett Anderson, et. al.; and Josh Weidemann, O’Connor & Thomas. Panelists include Tom Houser, Jason Stone and Chris James, all of Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines.

To view more information about the institute and to register online, click here. To register by mail, click here. Individuals with questions may contact Janey Piersall via email at

Celebrating Iowa Law’s first 150 years exhibit

An exhibit commemorating the University of Iowa College of Law’s sesquicentennial is currently on display at the Old Capitol Museum. "Iowa Law: The Oldest Law School West of the Mississippi” celebrates the University of Iowa College of Law’s first 150 years of continuous legal education and its story in a unique, tangible way.

"The early stories of our founders and graduates are really fascinating and diverse,” said Noëlle Sinclair, exhibit curator and head of special collections at the University of Iowa Law Library. "The first woman graduate was in 1873, and six years later, the first African-American and international students graduated. Also, in 1890, our first Japanese student graduated.”

The exhibit tells the story of the school and stories of some of the people who studied and taught there. The stories are accompanied by a variety of photographs of the various homes of the law school, information on the law library, the bar exam and Daumier lithographs from the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

The exhibit is open to the public and runs through August 2. Admission is free of charge. More information about the exhibit and the museum can be found here.

Photo by State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City.


In Other News ...

Governor Terry Branstad Proclaims May 1 Law Day in Iowa
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has formally proclaimed May 1 Law Day in Iowa. Branstad issued the proclamation at the request of ARAG®, a leading provider of legal insurance, and the Polk County Bar Association (PCBA). "Law Day celebrates the many ways that the rule of law contributed to the freedoms that Iowans enjoy," says Emily Chafa, PCBA President. "The governor's proclamation gives Iowans the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to protecting the freedom and rights of all individuals."

Iowa law arising from Kasem case ensures adult children can see sick parents
A year after the children of the radio personality Casey Kasem had to seek court action to see their ailing father, a new law in Iowa aims to ensure that adult children can see their sick parents — granting them visitation rights unless the person’s guardian goes to court to stop them. Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law Friday. Under the measure, adults who must depend on a legal guardian to manage their affairs would have the right to receive visits from family members and others they have previously expressed interest in seeing. The legal guardian could still control factors like the time and the place of the visits.
The New York Times

Supreme Court weighs excessive force
Amid a growing national debate over police use of force, the Supreme Court struggled Monday with a related question of claims of excessive force against jail officials by people who are accused but not yet convicted of crimes. The case involves Michael Kingsley, a Wisconsin man who was in jail pending a trial on drug charges. Kingsley claims that two jail officers used excessive force when they transferred him to another cell after he refused to remove a piece of paper covering the light over his bed.
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Waterloo casino won’t have to pay $41 million jackpot
When an 87-year-old Illinois grandmother bet a quarter in an Iowa slot machine in 2011, she thought she’d hit it big. The screen said: "The reels have rolled your way! Bonus Award — $41797550.16.” Pauline McKee and her daughter excitedly summoned casino employees to collect what they thought was a $41.8 million jackpot. But state officials later concluded the award was a computer glitch and that the Isle Hotel Casino in Waterloo didn’t have to pay.
The Des Moines Register

High court to consider lawsuits over personal data
The Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether websites and other firms that collect personal data can be sued for publishing inaccurate information even if the mistakes don't cause any actual harm. The case is being watched closely by Google, Facebook and other Internet companies concerned that class-action lawsuits under the Fair Credit Reporting Act could expose them to billions of dollars in damages.
Associated Press via KWWL Channel 7

FBI captures disbarred lawyer long wanted for fraud charges in Pueblo
A disbarred Iowa lawyer’s long run from the law is over. Authorities said Thursday that former Coralville lawyer Dennis Bjorklund was arrested last week in Colorado, ending a five-year search for one of the FBI’s most-wanted white-collar fugitives. Bjorklund, 50, is in federal custody and will soon be transferred to Iowa to face federal mail and tax fraud charges.
CBS, Denver


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 29

April 24, 2015

No. 13-0719
SHANNON and DANNY NELSON, Individually, and on Behalf of E.N. f/k/a E.N., a Minor vs.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert J. Blink, Judge. Medical defendants, sued for malpractice for failing to detect child abuse, appeal district court’s order denying their motion for summary judgment based on immunity under Iowa Code section 232.73 for assisting the investigation by the Iowa Department of Human Services. REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

No. 14-0802

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Todd A. Geer, Judge. A casino patron who sued to recover a bonus allegedly won on a slot machine appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the casino. AFFIRMED.

No. 14-1193

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Davis County, Daniel P. Wilson, Judge. The State appeals the district court’s ruling that the defendant is a wrongfully imprisoned person under Iowa Code section 663A.1. REVERSED.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued orders denying applications for further review in 74 cases. To view a list of the cases, click here.



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