Iowa Lawyer Weekly (12/04/2013)
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December 4, 2013
Past Issues

Reminder: Candidates for district judicial nominating commissions must file by Jan. 1

A total of 28 attorney positions, two in each of Iowa’s 14 judicial election subdistricts, will come open on Jan. 31, and the judicial branch is seeking candidates to fill the open slots. Jan. 1 is the deadline for filing a nominating petition.

Members of the District Judicial Nominating Commissions serve six-year terms. The new commissioners’ terms will begin on Feb. 1, 2014 and end on Jan. 31, 2020.

"Having a cross-section of effective and involved bar members serving on the judicial district nominating commissions is essential to maintaining the high quality of judges in our state,” says ISBA President Guy Cook.

Candidates for the positions will have their names printed on a ballot. Then eligible resident members of the bar of each judicial election district will elect two eligible members as prescribed in Iowa Code §46.4 and 602.11111(3)(2013). One of those to be elected shall be a man and one shall be a woman.

The election will be conducted electronically as it was two years ago. Details on how it will be conducted can be found here. Additional questions about the voting procedure should be channeled to Tina Schweitzer at or by calling 515-281-5241.

Forms to file a nominating petition are available from the state court administrator’s office. That address and phone number, along with the list of commissioners whose terms expire the end of January, can be found at the bottom of the same document as the details for electronic voting in the link above.

Federal Practice seminar to be held next week

There is still time to sign up for the ISBA Federal Practice Committee’s annual seminar scheduled for Friday (Dec. 13) at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 101 East Locust St., in Des Moines.

Highlights of the seminar include an address by Judge Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of Eighth Circuit judges hearing oral arguments in two cases in the federal courthouse across the street from the Embassy Suites, recent developments in federal sentencing and a discussion of the newest Iowa ethics opinions affecting "of counsel” relationships, "pro hac vice,” "contracted lawyers,” "mentorships” and "co-counsel relationships.”

A total of six state CLE credit hours, which includes one ethics hour and six federal hours, is pending. Early bird registration ends Thursday (Dec. 12).

For more information, and to register for the seminar, click here.

Webinar on Dec. 16 to discuss proposed court rules on discovery, expedited trials

Mark your calendar for a webinar on Dec. 16 that will discuss a proposed amendment to the discovery provisions in the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure and a proposed new rule allowing for streamlined and expedited civil actions for cases involving $75,000 or less in money damages.

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield, Gregory Lederer of Lederer Weston & Craig PLC, and Karla Shea of McCoy Riley Shea & Bevel PLC will discuss the proposed changes that are the outgrowth of work done by the Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force. The three presenters are members of the advisory committee that developed the new rules.

The proposal has the potential to impact civil litigation more than any rule change in recent decades.

Register on the ISBA website here.

Middle School Mock Trial State Tournament finals to be broadcast on cable television

The outstanding accomplishments of Iowa middle school students as exhibited by their performances in the Iowa Middle School Mock Trial program will be presented statewide the next few days. Mediacom channel 22 will televise the 2013 Iowa Middle School Mock Trial Championship tonight at 9:30 p.m., tomorrow (Dec. 5) at 2 p.m., and Sunday (Dec. 8) at 9 p.m.

Each fall students in grades 6-8 are given a legal problem, and then work to prepare and present both sides of the case before a panel of volunteer lawyers and judges. This year’s championship round came down to two teams of mostly eighth grade students from Urbandale Middle School and Assumption Catholic School in Granger. Urbandale emerged as the state champion.

Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel presided over the championship round and was assisted by scoring judges, Emily Chafa, Ian Russell and Jennifer Zahradnik. Each team was judged on their mock trial competition, sportsmanship, civility, courtroom decorum, and professionalism. The Iowa Middle School Mock Trial program is sponsored by The Iowa State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division through the association’s Center for Law and Civic Education.

Scammers appear to be ramping up attacks on lawyers

A couple of members recently contacted the ISBA about scams they’ve been subjected to, and requested that the association pass along the information to other attorney members.

In what appears to be a new approach, scammers send a letter to a member of the public on a law firm’s letterhead (or close facsimile) stating that the lawyer/law firm represents an individual attempting to collect money from the recipient. In this member’s case, the recipient took the time to look up his contact information online and saw that it did not match the information in the correspondence sent to him. The recipient contacted the member and verified that indeed he and his firm were not representing the purported "client.”

The concern is that some recipients of these scammers’ correspondence may not take the time to check out the legitimacy of the correspondence and could remit the money requested in the correspondence, or in rare instances file a complaint against the lawyer or law firm for improper solicitation.

The other scam, which was reported in the Nov. 6 Iowa Lawyer Weekly, involves the scammer sending a "certified” check to an attorney for deposit into his/her trust account, with a request to send the funds to another party (usually an ex spouse) minus a professional fee. Lawyers can verify the authenticity of the check by waiting the 10 days to two weeks that most banks require to make sure it clears.

The problem with this approach, according to one ISBA member who checked out the scam with the FBI and other authorities, is that the false routing numbers on the check would go not to the bank listed on the phony check but to the scammers along with the attorney’s bank account number and wiring instructions. The scammers allegedly have the technology to then create bank wires that would empty the trust account without the attorney’s knowledge.

Attorneys who have been victims of these scams urge fellow attorneys either to carefully check out any suspicious correspondence, or to simply delete or ignore it.

iPhone JD and Droid Lawyer apps can enhance law practice

New apps for the iPhone/iPad and for phones and tablets using the Android operating system can make a lawyer’s work easier – or at least beef up the practice, according to a couple of technical reviewers writing in the ABA Journal’s Law News Now.

"Human Anatomy Atlas” for the Droid system can help attorneys who have to make anatomy presentations. "Google+ Photo Spheres,” also for the Android operating system, can beef up a firm’s marketing, according to one of the reviewers. "Todoist” is an app for the Android system that helps create and manage to-do lists from a mobile device.

For the Apple IOS operating system, the "Documents to Go” app is "one of the best apps for viewing and editing Microsoft Word documents” on an iPhone or iPad, according to another reviewer. "Stabile Pro” is a stand for the iPad that "securely holds an iPad at about the same height as a computer monitor,” he says.

You can see the overall reviews here. Contained within the review are links that connect to more detailed information about each product.

Did You Know...

you can pose questions or make comments in the "Forum” portion of the new ISBA website? The process works much like the listserves that many ISBA groups have used to seek answers to questions from others in the group. To access "Forums,” log into the ISBA website ( and sign in. On your personal member profile page, you should see a list of the groups you belong to below a heading called "Groups.” Click on the group for which you want to create a message. On the upper right side of the page, you’ll see "Forums.” Click on it and post your question or comment.

Benefit of the Week

2013 Fiduciary Tax Manual
A new edition of the Fiduciary Tax manual is now available to ISBA members at a discounted member price.

Originally written in 1991 and revised in 1994, 2003 and October 2013, the 365-page manual provides an overview of the federal and Iowa fiduciary income tax returns for estates and trusts, and incorporates examples and forms to illustrate certain aspects of those returns.

To get your hands on the new manual, visit here.

Iowa Supreme Court Decisions

November 22, 2013

No. 12-1542

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Colleen D. Weiland, Judge.

The State seeks discretionary review of a district court’s denial of penalties and interest in a restitution order arising from a criminal defendant’s guilty pleas for failure to file or pay taxes. REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 13-1029

On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa.

Grievance commission reports respondent committed ethical violations and recommends suspension of his license to practice law. LICENSE REVOKED.