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    June 22, 2016
Past Issues  

Iowa Judicial Branch releases 2017 budget summary

The Iowa Judicial Branch recently released its 2017 fiscal year budget. The courts were forced to make difficult budgetary decisions after legislative appropriations fell more than $5 million short of what was needed. The courts made several resources available to explain how the judicial branch budget will be broken down. 


A four-paged paper, titled The Iowa Judicial Branch Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, was shared with the ISBA Board of Governors during the annual meeting held last week at the Community Choice Credit Union Community Center in Des Moines, Iowa. In the paper, the judicial branch shares staffing numbers, 2015 filing information and the parameters by which the courts based budgetary decisions. 


Additionally, the judicial branch website dedicated a webpage to the 2017 budget which contains the final budget decisions, statistical information and other facts. 

A law practice in Wal-Mart?

Fully-functional legal offices opened in two Wal-Mart store locations in Missouri earlier this month. The Law Store, as it’s known, is nested in two of the super stores and is now part of Wal-Mart's one-stop-shop model. 


According to a local news report from the Joplin Globe, The Law Store operates on an upfront, menu-style pricing model and is meant to bring services to people who need basic legal services but wouldn't otherwise seek out an attorney. Services include wills, bills of sale, uncontested divorces and more.


Details about The Law Store can be found in the Joplin Globe article linked above, or at the company website

Get CLE credit for preparation time

By Tre Critelli, Administrator of the CLE Commission

One of the new rules which went into effect Jan. 1 of this year was Iowa Court Rule 42.2(3) which gives credit for time involved in the preparation for a CLE presentation. Under the rule you are entitled to preparation credit equal to the length of the presentation you make, up to an annual maximum of three hours. So, if you give a 60-minute presentation, you are entitled to up to 60 minutes of preparation time for drafting the written materials. If the preparation of the written materials took less than 60 minutes, then you would reduce the amount of preparation credit accordingly. Written materials include PowerPoint or other similar presentation slides. 


One caveat is that only attorneys who prepare the written materials and give the presentation are eligible for the CLE preparation credit. If you are a panelist who did not prepare the written materials, you are not entitled to preparation credit. However, you may still claim attendance credit for the presentation itself. If you only prepared the written materials but were not part of the actual presentation, you are not entitled to any CLE credit. Nor are you allowed to claim preparation credit if you have received financial compensation for your role in preparing or presenting the CLE. Other exclusions can be found in rule 42.2(3).


To certify your preparation credit you will need to add CLE Activity ID #214549 to your CLE transcript. You can then indicate how many hours of preparation credit you are claiming. Preparation credit for multiple CLE presentations made during 2016 can be claimed by increasing the number of hours of credit claimed under this Activity ID, to reflect the total preparation credit for all the events, subject to the limit of three hours per year.


Ag Development Division to increase application fees 20 percent July 1

Attorneys with ag clients who are interested in state tax credits for leasing to beginning farmers should be aware that the Iowa Agricultural Development Division (IADD) will increase the application fee for its Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program by $50 beginning July 1. The fee will jump from $200 to $250 for both cash rent and crop share leases. The additional $50 per year for cash rent and $100 per year for crop share leases remains the same.


In addition, the IADD has changed the deadline for applying for the tax credits to Sept. 1 from Oct. 1. Landowners who have leases effective March 1 of this year must apply for the tax credits by Sept. 1 to receive those credits. The leases must be for at least two years, and can be up to five years. Qualifying leases include agricultural land, depreciable machinery or equipment and breeding livestock and buildings.


More information about the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program, as well the Beginning Farmer Loan Program, the Custom Farming Tax Credit Program and other programs offered by IADD can be found at this link. Click on the link "Beginning Farmer Tax Credit (BFTC) Application & Instructions” to see the value of the tax credits.


Specific questions can be directed to Steve Ferguson, IADD program planner, at 515-725-4928, or

Attorneys see increased malicious email attacks

Several organizations across the country are reporting incidents of cyber criminals attempting to gain control of attorney computer systems through malicious emails. Although the methods of attack vary, attorneys can protect themselves from falling prey. 


Most phishing emails can be detected but require vigilance and attention to detail:

  • Avoid links and attachments in any unexpected emails,
  • Before clicking on a link, hover over it to see what the true web address is,
  • Pay attention to the sender's email address as most will have minor differences from a legitimate sender. 

The State of Iowa Information Security Office reported malicious emails sent to attorneys regarding overdue membership dues. Additionally, bar associations including Alabama, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, and Nevada have reported members receiving phishing emails targeting attorneys through a variety of different methods. 


Once hacked, a firm’s client information becomes vulnerable. Once compromised, it can be very difficult to recover full control. The key to avoiding problems is prevention.

Supreme Court Opinions
June 10 and June 17

June 10

No. 13–0346

STATE OF IOWA vs. ZYRIAH HENRY FLOYD SCHLITTER Defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming convictions for child endangerment resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter by commission of public offense. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

No. 14–1058


No. 14–1274

NATIONAL SURETY CORPORATION, an Illinois Corporation vs. WESTLAKE INVESTMENTS, LLC, an Iowa Limited Liability Company An insurer seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming in part a district court judgment finding it liable under the terms of an excess commercial general liability insurance policy for property damage arising due to defective workmanship by the insureds’ subcontractor. DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART; CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 15–0334

EMILY M. BASS, on Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly Situated vs. J.C. PENNEY COMPANY, INC. Plaintiff appeals from district court summary judgments in a class action suit against a retailer based on a wrongful collection of sales tax. AFFIRMED.


June 17

No. 14–1180

ESTATE OF DAVID PAUL McFARLIN by Its Personal Representative, Jamie Laass; JAMIE LAASS, Individually; and JAMIE LAASS, as Parent and Next Friend of S.L. vs. STATE OF IOWA Plaintiffs seek further review of court of appeals decision that affirmed summary judgment dismissing tort claims against the State of Iowa arising from boating accident on Storm Lake. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT SUMMARY JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

No. 14–2075

STATE OF IOWA vs. DEYAWNA LEANETT TAYLOR A defendant in a criminal case seeks further review after the court of appeals affirmed her convictions, arguing that the district court erred in rejecting her claim of a speedy trial violation. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND REMANDED.

No. 16–0097

IN THE MATTER OF JAMES H. MARTINEK, A Magistrate. On application of the Iowa Commission on Judicial Qualifications. The Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed an application to discipline a magistrate. OPINION ISSUED.


The Iowa Court of Appeals recently posted 110 opinions to the Judicial Branch website. 


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