Iowa Lawyer Weekly (08/13/2014)
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August 13, 2014
Past Issues

Candidate(s) needed for appointment(s) to Supreme Court commission

The ISBA is seeking candidates for one – maybe two – open positions on the Supreme Court’s Advisory Commission on Rules of Civil Procedure.

The 13-member commission, which reviews and recommends changes to the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure, both on its own and upon referral, is comprised of five bar-appointed and eight court-appointed members. Members can serve up to two three-year terms. Terms for these new appointees will begin on Oct. 1, 2014.

Commission members meet whenever there are issues to be addressed. That could mean every few weeks to address a proposed rule change, or it could mean no meetings for months, according to Bill Miller, a bar-appointed commission member. He said the meetings are held via teleconference and usually last about an hour, usually over the lunch hour. It’s helpful, but not essential, to regularly use, or have some interaction, with the rules of civil procedure, he said.

If you are interested, please complete the form available here, and either save it and attach it to an email to:, or print it out and mail it to: The Iowa State Bar Association, 625 East Court Ave., Des Moines, IA 50309 by Wednesday, Aug. 27. Please put "Commission on Rules of Civil Procedure” in the subject line if emailing, and on the envelope if mailing.

Bar leadership will review the applications and appoint one or two individuals to the commission.

2013 jury trial verdicts show continued decline; some counties had no jury trials for the year

A release by the State Court Administrator’s Office early this year showing the number of jury trials in the state from 1994-2013 demonstrates a continuing decline in these trials. Another release from the court administrator’s office provides a look at 2013 jury trials by county.

Trials that resulted in a jury verdict entered totaled 799 for 2013. That compares with 842 the previous year, and 848 the year before that.

Present-day figures are significantly lower than the mid-1990s when total jury trials were in the 1,400s. A 2009 change in the definition of "jury trial” from "any disposed case in which a jury had been selected (even if the case settled or a defendant pleaded guilty before a witness was sworn in)” to "only cases with a jury verdict entered” may account for some of the decline.

A table and graph demonstrating the overall trend, plus a breakdown of cases by civil, indictable criminal and simple misdemeanor can be found here.

The breakdown of jury trials by county for 2013, which can be found by clicking on this link, shows that 14 counties did not have any jury trials during the year. Polk County had the most with 90 criminal and 48 civil jury trials. Black Hawk County was second with 49 and three, and Scott County was third with 61 and 12, respectively.

Review of ISBA positions on key legislative issues

President Joe Feller, as part of his "Back to Basics” program, has asked that all existing ISBA position papers on legislative issues be updated and disseminated to members for review and comment. He has also directed all sections and committees who are proposing legislation for the 2015 legislative session to have those proposals completed far enough in advance that members can review and express their comments to their elected members on the ISBA Board of Governors (BOG) prior to the board’s quarterly meetings.

As a way of disseminating both the updated existing position papers and any new proposed legislation, President Feller has directed that links to both be published in this newsletter. The first three of the updated papers are linked in this edition. They are (click on the title to read the entire paper):

Indigent Defense – The ISBA supports adequate compensation of court-appointed counsel in order to ensure that the state meets its constitutional obligation to provide competent assistance of counsel to indigent persons accused of crimes. The ISBA further supports periodic cost-of-living adjustments in the hourly rate for such compensation.

Judicial Branch Budget -- The ISBA supports full funding of the operation of the Judicial Branch. The ISBA also supports development of a system of determining the annual appropriation for the Judicial Branch, which would recognize the Judicial Branch’s status as a co-equal separate branch of government, and which removes the Judicial Branch from competition for funding with other programs/agencies, such as the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General.

Funding for Legal Services -- The ISBA supports state funding in the amount of $2.4 million for the Legal Services Grants Program, which provides money to Iowa Legal Aid. Additionally, the ISBA supports establishment of a mechanism to provide for a consistent and assured "revenue stream.”

Preventing Abuse Conference to be held Aug. 22-23

A Preventing Abuse Conference will be held at the Kirkwood Hotel in Cedar Rapids Aug. 22-23. It is being sponsored by the Preventing Abuse Foundation, a California-based foundation formed to help protect women, children and families from being exploited by human trafficking, child abduction, drug cartels, the Internet and pornography.

The Iowa conference includes expert speakers and survivors presenting ways to help audience members become more aware of these great dangers by educating, motivating and activating the attendees to be part of the solution. They will address subjects such as the border crisis, human trafficking, child abduction and safety, Internet safety, entertainment, drug cartels in America and pornography: There will also be special remarks via video by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.

For more information about the conference in general and bios of the speakers, click here, or call 323-851-3872. To register, click on this link.

In other news…

Iowa Legal Aid receives grant for Health and Law Project
A $15,000 grant from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation will help Iowa Legal Aid assist low-income people in Greater Des Moines by providing free civil legal assistance to low-income people facing health problems.
Business Record

Paperless system coming to Black Hawk courts
Beginning today, prosecutors and defense attorneys will begin going to their computers to file motions and other paperwork in criminal cases in Black Hawk County.

Black Hawk is the latest county to switch to the state’s new electronic document management system, which started in 2010 in Iowa's western counties and is making its way east.

Civil cases in the county will make the switch later in the month.
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

#Barmageddon: Law students sue when software fails
Five law students have sued a Florida software company over a computer submission system that malfunctioned while they and thousands of others across the country were taking the bar exam one day in July - showing that future attorneys may be the last people you want to anger.

With one day of the grueling session behind them, law students taking the bar exam with computers on July 29 were surprised to find they couldn't upload their answers using software they purchased from ExamSoft Worldwide Inc.
Associated Press

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.

Did You Know...

that you likely can find an outside vendor that provides a service you need for your practice through the ISBA’s Vendor Mall? For example, under "Court Reporters” there are four suppliers listed in different parts of the state. Check out the Vendor Mall at this link, or go to, hover your mouse on "Practice Tools,” and click on "Vendor Mall.”

Benefit of the Week

Citrix ShareFile
Citrix ShareFile is a secure file sharing, file transfer, sync and storage solution, enabling you to access and manage your content from anywhere, on any device. With ShareFile, co-workers and clients can receive full or partial access to the files they need, so you can work collaboratively and securely.