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    June 29, 2016
Past Issues  

Supreme Court establishes Access to Justice Commission

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady signed an order Monday establishing the Iowa Access to Justice Commission. The new commission, which was recommended to the court by the ISBA after months of investigation by a study group, will establish a "concerted, sustained, and strategic effort” to "safeguard the fundamental right of access to justice” for all Iowans, according to the order.


"The bedrock principle of our court system is that justice should be accessible to all persons,” Chief Justice Cady wrote. "Inability to afford the cost of legal representation and other barriers to access to justice unfairly impact the lives of too many Iowans.”


The court will work with the ISBA, Iowa Legal Aid, other legal aid organizations and various stakeholder groups across the state to determine the structure and makeup of the commission in the coming months. Justice Brent Appel chairs the commission.


Read the complete order for details.

Updates to civil and criminal jury instructions

The ISBA’s Jury Instructions Committee updated the civil and criminal jury instructions which are effective this month. The changes in the civil instructions impact instruction 100.2 related to juror biases, and instructions 3120.1 to 3120.5 regarding workplace harassment and hostile work environments. Instructions 3120.2 through 3120.5 are new to the chapter and further define workplace harassment/hostile work environment.


Changes to the criminal instructions impact instructions 920.1, and 920.9 through 920.12, related to sexual exploitation by school employees. Changes to instructions 1400.22, 1400.25, 1400.25A and 1400.27 address fraudulent practices. And, changes to instructions 1610.1 through 1610.4 address trespass.


The updates to both civil and criminal instructions can be found on the ISBA website ( by clicking on the "Practice Tools” tab, then scrolling down to "Jury Instructions” and choosing "Civil” or "Criminal.”

Reappointments made to boards and commissions of the court

The following individuals were reappointed to boards and commissions of the Iowa Supreme Court as of Monday, June 27. Each is reappointed for a three-year term ending June 30, 2019:


Board of Law Examiners 

  • Jean Dickson, Davenport

Commission on Continuing Legal Education 

  • Janece Valentine, Fort Dodge

Grievance Commission

  • Eric J. Nelson, Council Bluffs
  • Erika Eckley, Carlisle
  • Kelley A. Rice, Des Moines
  • George F. Davison, Jr., Des Moines
  • Randall B. Willman, Iowa City
  • Jerry Van Scoy, Clinton
  • Allen L. Cook, Jr., Ottumwa

Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law

  • Fred J. Nelson, Des Moines
  • Sarah J. Gayer, Cedar Rapids

View the Iowa Supreme Court order to see a full list of reappointments to include lay members not listed here.


Registration open for biennial solo/small firm conference

Registration is now available for the 2016 Solo & Small Firm Conference to be held Thursday, Aug. 11, through Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs. Held every two years, the 2016 conference will be a joint effort with the Nebraska State Bar Association. 


Topics such as "Small Firms, Big Markets,” "Succession Planning/Buying or Selling a Practice,” and "Alternative Fees: Making Them Profitable,” are designed specifically for the solo or small firm practitioner. A session late Friday afternoon entitled "Beer and Bull Small Group Sessions: Discussions on Productivity/Time Management Tips, Marketing and Staffing” give attendees a chance to pick up tips from colleagues facing similar challenges.


A complete list of the topics to be presented, as well as registration information is available on the event page. Call the Ameristar Casino Hotel directly at 877-462-7827 or go online to make room reservations. If calling, be sure to identify yourself as part of the ISBA General Practice Section to receive the discounted rate of $94 plus taxes and fees per night. If making reservations online, use the special offer code ISBH16 for the discounted rate.

July Iowa Lawyer now available online

The July issue of the Iowa Lawyer magazine is now available online. In this issue, the Iowa Lawyer will uncover a few new points of view. From the jury box to child witnesses to coaching high school mock trial, attorneys have an opportunity to gain a new perspective that they may not have previously considered. 


Those who elect to receive the print version of the magazine should see it in mailboxes in the next week or so. To view the digital version, navigate to, click 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 ISBA account settings and selecting "yes” for the "Iowa Lawyer Magazine Online” option.


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

Bar Foundation brochure summarizes grants and finances

The Iowa State Bar Foundation has gone digital with its annual report, which describes the grants made during the fiscal year and the status of the organization’s finances. For many years, the report was published in the Iowa Lawyer, usually in December or January.

The report was included in a brochure handed out at the annual Foundation Fellows Breakfast earlier this month during the ISBA Annual Meeting. Going forward, publishing the report in digital format permits a quicker turnaround and allows it to coincide with the end of the fiscal year instead of months later.

Supreme Court Opinions
June 24

No. 14–0773

STATE OF IOWA vs. MAR'YO D. LINDSEY JR. A high school student seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from a search by a public school official. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AND JUDGMENT OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED.

No. 14–0199

KATHRYN WINGER and TIMOTHY POTTS vs. CM HOLDINGS, L.L.C. Plaintiffs and defendant seek further review of court of appeals decision ordering a new trial in a wrongful-death action arising from a fatal fall from an apartment balcony. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT ORDER AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART; CASE REMANDED FOR NEW TRIAL.

No. 14–1808

ERIKA L. SPITZ f/k/a ERIKA L. GENTZ, Plaintiff, vs. IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR MITCHELL COUNTY An ex-spouse seeks further review of a decision of the court of appeals upholding a district court ruling that she did not purge a contempt based on her failure to comply with the visitation provisions of the dissolution decree and ordering her to serve the previously imposed thirty-day jail sentence. WRIT ANNULLED.

No. 15–0624

STATE OF IOWA vs. JOHN ARTHUR SENN JR. Defendant challenges the constitutionality of Iowa Code section 804.20, contending a right to counsel attached under article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution before criminal charges were filed, which entitled him to a private phone call with counsel before deciding whether to submit to a chemical breath test. DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.


The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued orders denying applications for further review in 20 cases. 

The Iowa Court of Appeals posted 33 opinions to the Judicial Branch website today.


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