Iowa Lawyer Weekly (11/19/2014)
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November 19, 2014
Past Issues

Editor’s note: Due to the upcoming holiday, the Nov. 26 Iowa Lawyer Weekly e-newsletter will be suspended until the Dec. 3 issue. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

A Letter from the President

Mandatory assessment for Iowa Legal Aid? Two perspectives.

There has been a lot of discussion in the last year or two about the reduced funding sources for Iowa Legal Aid. The ISBA supports a new Pro Hac Vice fee of $250 per case and a stronger lobbying effort both here in Iowa and in Washington, D.C., to raise more funds to provide civil legal services for low-income Iowans. Some say that these efforts are inadequate and that Iowa should now join the ranks of those few state licensing boards that have adopted mandatory assessments requiring most licensed lawyers and judges to pay into a fund to support these legal services.

At the request of Iowa Legal Aid, a proposal is pending before the Iowa Supreme Court that would require a mandatory assessment of $100 per attorney per year. As your president, my duty is to ensure you receive this information so you have the opportunity to file your comments with the court.

Two of our accomplished members have graciously agreed to share their opinions on this subject. I want to publicly thank both Art and Joe for helping us present both sides to this issue. Please see their letters below:

Supporting View
Opposing View

Arthur A. Neu - Carroll

Partner in the firm of Neu, Minnich, Comito & Neu, P.C.; has served as a state senator, lieutenant governor and as a member of the Board of Regents.

C. Joseph Holland - Iowa City

Currently practicing in the firm of Holland Law Office, P.L.C.; served on our Board of Governors and also served as president of the ISBA in 2001-02; served on many different boards including the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the Iowa Council of School Board Attorneys.

Why lawyers? Why do we need to give $100 per year to provide legal help to low-income Iowans? Perhaps why the Iowa Supreme Court has asked for comments on this fee is that we, as lawyers, have a special responsibility for the quality of justice. Our rules of professional conduct urge us to do so. Unrepresented parties negatively impact the quality of justice, not just for themselves, but for others involved in the judicial system. This contribution to support access to justice will improve the system for lawyers, our clients and for all Iowans.

Iowa Legal Aid and the Volunteer Lawyers Projects in Iowa provide critical legal assistance to low-income Iowans that ensures they are treated fairly. Iowa Legal Aid and the volunteer lawyers to whom it refers cases handled 18,127 cases …

Click here to read more.

For those of you who may not know, a proposal is before the Iowa Supreme Court to assess every Iowa licensed attorney a $100 annual fee to fund Iowa Legal Aid. The deadline for submitting written comments to the court is 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2015. This is not an ISBA proposal and ISBA has not taken a position in favor of this proposal. Iowa Legal Aid took the request to the court.

I believe in Iowa Legal Aid. My firm and I have donated time and money in support of its mission. I have lobbied, in person, members of both the Iowa Legislature and the United States Congress, for support for Legal Aid on state and national levels. However, I see court imposed funding for Legal Aid as unacceptable for many reasons. Here are a few….

Click here to read more.

The court wants to measure the temperature of the bar on this issue and has requested that you make your comments known, either by mailing them to the court or filing your comments electronically at The email must state, "Access to Justice,” in the subject line and the comments must be attached to the email in Microsoft Word format.

In addition to those comments, we are also asking you to take a few minutes to complete our short survey concerning this topic. This survey will help The Iowa State Bar Association understand the concerns of its members regarding access to justice and fill gaps of information missing from the initial report. Results of this survey will be shared with the Iowa Supreme Court. Click the button below to begin.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your president.

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

Iowa Supreme Court Resources:
Request for Public Comment Regarding Access to Justice Recommendations (Oct. 1).

Clerkship announcement for Fourth Judicial District

The Fourth Judicial District Court in Council Bluffs is now accepting applications for judicial clerks. This is a one-year clerkship beginning August 2015. Duties include working directly with all Fourth District judges and associate judges; performing legal research; drafting memoranda, decisions and orders; and other assigned duties. The salary is approximately $45,177 and includes full Iowa State benefits. Graduation from an accredited law school is required, although applicants may apply while still in their final year. Interviews will be held and offers made beginning in February 2015.

Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, law school transcript (unofficial transcript is acceptable), and writing sample by Dec. 19 to:

Kent Wirth
District Court Administrator
Pottawattamie County Courthouse
227 South 6th Street, 4th Floor, Rm. 413
Council Bluffs, IA 51501

In Other News...

Number of Iowans Passing the Bar Exam Drops
The passage rate for Iowans taking the Bar Exam fell 11-percent when compared to the previous year. The country’s average score dropped 4 points. The National Conference of Bar Examiners sent a memo asking law schools to better prepare their students for the test. Drake University Law School associate dean Andrea Charlow says she doesn’t agree that the schools are to blame for a decline in scores.
Radio Iowa

Iowa Courts Working to Address Racial Disparity Concerns
Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady pointed to encouraging signs Monday that Iowa is addressing problems associated with racial disparity in the state’s criminal justice system. Speaking to attendees of an Iowa Summit on Justice & Disparities conference at Drake University, Cady said efforts are under way to inform and educate Iowa judges about racial disparity problems and the steps that can be taken to end them. As part of what he called project equality, Cady said recommendations also have been made on ways to reduce racial disparity at all stages in Iowa’s juvenile justice system.
Sioux City Journal

New Iowa Law Helps Seniors Protect Against Financial Abuse
As Iowa's population continues to age, also growing is the number of elders being exploited financially, although new protections are in place aim to reverse that trend. The Iowa Uniform Power of Attorney Act officially took effect this summer and today marks the start of a statewide awareness campaign.

Attorney and law professor Josephine Gittler, College of Law, University of Iowa, says the Act adds new protections against those who abuse Power of Attorney authority, and makes it easier for Iowans to set up a POA.
Iowa News Service via KMALand

Gay Marriage Issue Squarely Before High Court
A same-sex couple from Michigan is putting the question of the right to marry nationwide squarely before the Supreme Court. The couple's plea to be allowed to marry was being filed Monday. It asks the justices to hold that state laws prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married violate "our nation's most cherished and essential guarantees." The appeal from Detroit-area hospital nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse calls on the court to overturn an appeals court ruling that upheld anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Associated Press via ABC News

Protesters Gather Outside Courthouse Where Grand Jury Weighs Ferguson Case
Several dozen demonstrators took to the streets Monday in Clayton, Missouri, where a grand jury is determining whether to file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen in August. Protesters expressed anger that, 101 days after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, it was still unclear what will happen to the officer, Darren Wilson.
Reuters via Huffington Post

New App Helps People Expunge Their Criminal Records
In Maryland, as in any part of the world, people with checkered pasts are looking to wipe their slates clean. Baltimore lawyer Jason Tashea is hoping to make that process just a little easier. Tashea, along with University of Maryland law student Jon Tippens, created, a web application to help people start to figure out whether their criminal records can be wiped away.
ABA Journal

Going Solo Without Breaking the Bank
Starting a law practice is a challenge for any lawyer, even one with unlimited funds. But most lawyers have limited budgets. Startup costs rapidly accumulate and being frugal is not a choice, it’s a necessity. Just a few years ago, it was a significant challenge to obtain the necessary technology to open a practice for $5,000. However, while many costs relating to the practice of law have increased over the last 10 years, the cost of much of the basic computer technology and software has decreased. So the challenge faced by lawyers opening new solo offices, whether they are new graduates or are leaving other positions, is if they can obtain the technology they need on their budget. What if they only have $1,000? What if they have a bit more, say, $2,500 or even $5,000?
Wisconsin Lawyer

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.


No. 12–1065

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Nancy A. Baumgartner, Judge.
Defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision sustaining the writ of certiorari requested by the State, vacating the sentence imposed by the district court, and remanding for resentencing. COURT OF APPEALS DECISION AFFIRMED, WRIT SUSTAINED, AND CASE REMANDED.



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