Iowa Lawyer Weekly (09/10/2014)
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September 10, 2014
Past Issues

Judicial performance survey closes tomorrow

The ISBA opened the 2014 judicial performance review online survey last week, but participants should reply soon as the survey will only remain open until tomorrow, Sept. 11. Links to the survey were sent out Sept. 2 via email to all ISBA membership to restrict access to the survey.

Within the e-mail was a link to the ISBA’s bi-annual Judicial Performance Review. Clicking on the link will take participants to the instructions for filling out the review, including the qualifications for doing so.

Results of the Judicial Review will be populated, reviewed by the Board of Governors and made available by Oct. 1 on the ISBA website and shared through various ISBA communications channels. Results will also be shared with the media and the public.

ISBA members who appear before these judges are in a unique position to render opinions about judges up for retention. Members who did not see the email sent Sept. 2 should check inboxes and spam filters. Members interested in participating in the survey who have not received the email should contact the ISBA at 515-697-7868 or

Iowa Department of Revenue website recently updated

The Iowa Department of Revenue recently released their new website with a goal to reduce clutter and improve searches and communications. The new version of the website is located at a different address,

The site offers a search box just for tax forms, tax education videos, links to online services, and key information for taxpayers, tax professionals and local governments. Those interested in sharing their opinions of the new site or who have questions can contact

ISBA President Feller encouraged by court ruling - message to members

Dear ISBA Members,

Friday, September 5th, our Supreme Court entered an order in response to our proposed amendments to bar admission in Iowa (click here for order). In that order, the Court directs that the current process for admission of lawyers by examination should continue to be carefully studied and requested that the Iowa Board of Law Examiners do so with the goal of achieving greater efficiency, expedition, economy and utility for the applicants for admission.

The Board of Law Examiners will, as a part of its work, also issue a recommendation concerning the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam and the administration of the bar exam during the third year of law school. The Court will also review the current Basic Skills Course in a separate proceeding.

I am very pleased that the Court is requesting the Iowa Board of Bar Examiners to thoroughly review all of our proposals as well as other possible modifications to the current process. The review of the Basic Skills Course is also a welcomed development.

We should celebrate this ruling as a further opportunity to provide input on improving the process for admission to the bar. The conversation concerning legal education and licensure between the Court, the law schools and the bar is off to a great start.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who participated in public discourse which was the first time the bench, bar and our law schools have discussed bar admission in a fully-transparent manner in 150 years. I commend you all for your passion, your wisdom and your willingness to shine a light on an enormously important issue. Clearly, the Board of Law Examiners will be reaching out to all of us as directed by the Court. The current board members and their contact information can be found here.

I commend all of you for the professionalism and civility you have brought to bear. All points-of-view were presented to the Court in an exemplary manner. I thank our Supreme Court for taking these matters up in such an open and engaging process. Today we can truly be proud to be Iowa Lawyers and members of the ISBA and officers of this Iowa Court.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your President.

Joseph M. Feller
The Iowa State Bar Association
P.O. Box 37, Sibley, Iowa 51249

Branstad selects McGovern as acting Workers' Compensation Commissioner

Gov. Terry Branstad named Michelle "Miki” McGovern the acting Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Monday, Sept. 8. McGovern has served as an Iowa Workers’ Compensation Deputy Commissioner for the past 26 years and has been very involved in the ISBA both in the Workers' Compensation Section and as a member of the Board of Governors.

The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner is the head of the Division of Workers’ Compensation which is part of the Iowa Workforce Development. Workers’ compensation has the responsibility of administering, regulating, and enforcing the workers’ compensation laws. Though the workers’ compensation commissioner’s office cannot represent the interests of any party, the agency provides information regarding the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Law, the rights of the parties, and the procedures the parties can follow to resolve their disputes.

McGovern began working for the Iowa Division of Labor, the precursor to Iowa Workforce Development, in January 1982. In 1988, she became a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Iowa State University, a Master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Drake University.

McGovern will serve as acting Commissioner while an exhaustive and extensive search for a permanent Commissioner continues.

To read the complete release from the governor’s office click here.

ISBA recognizes Constitution Day next week, encourages participation

The ISBA’s Center for Law and Civic Education is recognizing Constitution Day next week Wednesday, Sept. 17, with activities and program launches. As always, ISBA Center for Law and Civic Education encourages ISBA members to visit classrooms around the State in observance of Constitution Day to begin the conversation about the importance of the Constitution.

In honor of the day, two high school classes will be watching live arguments at the Judicial Branch Building and then meeting a retired appellate judge to facilitate a discussion on the process. The oral hearings will be two search and seizure cases dealing with OWI. Iowa Supreme Court will also stream the oral arguments live at 9 a.m.

Additionally, the Know Your Constitution (KYC) program will release contest guidelines for this year’s contest. The contest for Iowa high school students requires students to take a quiz and write a short essay on the constitutional conundrum offered by the KYC committee. In January, 100 students and their teachers will attend a luncheon at the state level where five of those students will be selected for a week-long educational trip to Washington, D.C., accompanied by their teachers.

Lastly, the ISBA will launch the Iowa We the People program aimed to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation's elementary and secondary students. The culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing where students "testify" before a panel of judges. At the high school level, schools may participate in a State Competition, held in December, performing before a panel of notable governmental and political leaders. The top performing high school team is eligible to attend the National Competition in Washington, D.C.

Those interested in getting involved, can email John Wheeler, Director for the ISBA Center for Law and Civic Education at

Des Moines law firm displaced after fire in Equitable Building

The Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fischer and Bouslog, P.C., law firm is temporarily displaced from its offices due to a fire located between the second and third floors of the Equitable Building on Saturday, Aug. 30. The firm has temporarily worked from the Ruan Center since Monday, Sept. 8.

The firm’s offices suffered water and extensive smoke damage, and the building is presently off-limits for hazardous materials testing. The nearly 90-year-old Des Moines law firm will be working on the 9th Floor of the Ruan Center across the street from the Equitable Building and plans to return once the damages are repaired.

Fortunately, the law firm still has access to electronic records through its computer server, and hard-copy client files were not damaged. Additionally, the firm’s 20 employees can still be reached by email and mobile phone, as well as the main telephone number which is forwarded to the Ruan Center.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the Des Moines law firm has been displaced. In 1993, the law firm relocated from its offices in the Hub Tower due to flooding.

In Other News...

Jackson County Courthouse Lacks Security Detail
The only security measure preventing Francis "Gus" Glaser from entering the Jackson County Courthouse on Tuesday with a handgun was a small sign on the building's front entrance that read: "firearms are prohibited."

Quad-City Times

Iowa State Court Administrator Named to Leadership Positions in Two National Court Organizations
Iowa State Court Administrator David Boyd was named vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and president of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) at the NCSC Board meeting and COSCA annual meeting.
Iowa Judicial Branch

Iowa Supreme Court Justices to Meet with Iowa City Area Students
On Friday, Sept. 12, members of the Iowa Supreme Court will visit five Iowa City area high schools to meet with students and discuss the role of the courts. The justices will visit City, West, and Regina Catholic high schools in Iowa City, Solon High School in Solon, and Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin.
Iowa Judicial Branch

Q&A with Joe Feller
Joe Feller has practiced law in Sibley, Iowa, for 36 years. In July, he became just the second lawyer from the Northwest Iowa city in the last 56 years to serve as president of the Iowa State Bar Association. He also is the first ISBA president in nearly a decade to come from a rural county-seat town.
Sioux City Journal

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.

Benefit of the Week

ISBA On-Demand Catalog

Take advantage of the ISBA's new on-demand CLE catalog!

The ISBA has upgraded its collection of on-demand videos and is offering, for a limited time only, two videos free to ISBA members. These free videos, which focus on real estate law, also offer CLE credit. Earning CLE credit has never been easier! Members simply need to log-in to view the following videos absolutely free:
  • Essentials of Successful Abstract Examination - Part 1 & 2
  • Closing the Transaction: A Best Practice Guide for Residential Real Estate Closings - Part 1 & 2
View the complete catalog here.

Please contact ISBA CLE Director Christy Cronin at 515-697-7874 or with any questions.

Supreme Court Opinions

September 5, 2014

No. 14–0426

No. 14–0507