Iowa Lawyer Weekly (12/10/2014)
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December 10, 2014
Past Issues

Adam Gregg named Iowa State Public Defender

Gov. Terry Branstad named Adam Gregg as the Iowa State Public Defender Dec. 8. One of Gregg’s first engagements was to introduce himself to the ISBA at the Board of Governors meeting held at the Meadows Conference Center in Altoona that same day.

"As the Governor’s Office’s legislative liaison, Adam had a reputation of working with legislators of both parties as historic legislation passed both chambers,” said Branstad. "As State Public Defender, I’m confident that Adam will work to represent and defend individuals who otherwise couldn’t afford legal representation in our legal system.”

"I am humbled and honored to have been asked by Governor Branstad to serve Iowans as the State Public Defender,” said Gregg. "I am eager to begin my work ensuring that every Iowan is provided the constitutional right to counsel and has fair representation in our justice system.”

Gregg graduated in 2009 with high honors from Drake University Law School, where he received the institution’s most prestigious honor, the Opperman Scholarship. While there, he earned the faculty’s William and Ellen Cooney Hoye Award, given to the student who demonstrates the greatest promise as an advocate, public servant and practitioner.

Gregg’s experience includes internships with the U.S. Dept. of Defense, U.S. Congress and United Kingdom Parliament. From December 2012 - June 2014, he served as the legislative liaison in the Governor’s Office. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Gregg practiced at a Des Moines law firm. He was the Republican nominee for Attorney General in 2014.

The position of State Public Defender is subject to Iowa Senate confirmation. Gregg replaces Sam Langholz, who left the position to pursue a new job in the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

Supreme Court adopts new and amended rules governing court interpreters

The Iowa Supreme Court approved new Iowa court rules Dec. 4 that govern court interpreters. The changes include 16 new or amended rules to Chapter 47, Court Interpreter and Translator Rules, and a number of amendments to the canons in Chapter 48, Code of Professional Conduct for Judicial Branch Interpreters.

All changes will be in effect July 1, 2015. In the order, the court recognized the time and attention the new rules and procedures will require from judges, attorneys, interpreters and court personnel which is why the court issued the new rules far in advance of the effective date.

To view a full list of the amendments, visit, click "Court Rules & Forms,” then "Recent Amendments & New Iowa Court Rules,” or click here.

Iowa Supreme Court Lawyer Trust Account Commission accepting applications for grants under IOLTA program

The Iowa Supreme Court Lawyer Trust Account Commission announced Dec. 3 that it is accepting applications for grants under the Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) program for the grant period beginning July 1, 2015. IOLTA program grants are awarded to public purpose projects that provide legal services to low-income persons in civil cases, to law-related education, and to other programs that improve the administration of justice in Iowa.

Applicants must file one copy of their application in paper form, and one copy of their application in electronic form. Organizations may obtain a copy of the rules and grant application forms (paper and electronic) by contacting the Lawyer Trust Account Commission, Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, by calling (515) 725-8029, or by electronic mail to Application forms also may be downloaded from the Commission's web page on the Judicial Branch web site.

The commission must receive completed grant applications no later than March 6, 2015. The commission will then review the applications and seek approval from the Iowa Supreme Court for awarding the grants. Grant recipients will be announced in late May or early June of 2015.

Tax School door prize winners

Two lucky attendees, representing both ends of the age spectrum, received door prizes during the final break of the 75th Annual Bloethe Tax School last Friday.

Eric Bidwell of Rutherford & Bidwell Law Office in Marshalltown, who aged out of the Young Lawyers Division recently, received a bottle of Templeton Rye from WahlTek, Inc. Henry Elwood of Elwood O’Donohoe Braun & White, L.L.P., in Cresco, who celebrated 50 years as an attorney a few years ago, received an iPad Air tablet from The Iowa State Bar Association.

Bidwell quipped that he normally doesn’t drink rye whiskey, but guessed he would have to learn. Elwood said that he was planning to go to the Apple Store after tax school to buy an iPad. "Now I won’t have to,” he laughed.

A total of 623 individuals attended this year’s tax school. Anyone who was unable to attend the school, but would like an electronic copy of the materials, may purchase a flash drive via the ISBA store. Click here to be taken directly to the item. Otherwise, click on "Electronic Media” under the "Store” tab in the gold bar near the top of the ISBA home page (, then go to the second page.

Government job posting: DAS Attorney

The State of Iowa, Department of Administrative Services, is currently accepting applications for an attorney position in Des Moines to assist the General Counsel and Labor Relations Team. Travel throughout Iowa is required. The primary purpose of this position is to prepare legal documents, conduct research, prepare legal memoranda and assist with other legal matters related to labor relations and collective bargaining agreements. The successful candidate must have sound research and writing skills, good interpersonal relationship skills, be able to communicate effectively and be able to effectively work in a team environment.

Those interested in learning more about or applying to the position should visit this link.

In Other News...

Proposed $100 attorney fee to fund legal aid fuels debate
Shawn Larson felt the end of her marriage approaching, but couldn't afford to pay attorney fees for a divorce and custody dispute over four children. "The minimum fee everybody was asking for was a $2,000 retainer, and then it depends on how complicated it gets," she said. "It just never was going to be feasible." Larson, 40, turned to Iowa Legal Aid, just as she had seen other people do in her job at a Marshalltown center for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. From 2008 to 2012, Iowa Legal Aid closed an average of 23,000 cases a year for low-income Iowans like Larson, dealing largely with issues involving family, housing and consumer law.
The Des Moines Register

Attorney Nicholas Pothitakis Elected President of the Iowa Association of Workers' Compensation Lawyers (IAWC)
Nicholas "Niko" Pothitakis of Burlington was elected president of the Iowa Association of Workers' Compensation Lawyers (IAWC) at their annual meeting on October 22, 2014. He follows in the footsteps of the previous IAWC president Jim Peters of Cedar Rapids. The IAWC is a group of Iowa attorneys who are actively engaged in workers' compensation law on behalf of injured workers, employers, and insurance carriers.

Minority law students push for delayed exams due to grand jury decisions; Columbia partly acquiesces
Columbia Law School has announced it will consider applications to delay final exams by students traumatized by recent grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, but that decision doesn’t completely satisfy a group seeking exam delays.
ABA Journal

May a lawyer call another lawyer unethical? Spate of inquiries spurs ethics opinion
Is it unethical for a lawyer to label another lawyer unethical? The Iowa State Bar Association has received so many inquiries about the issue that its Ethics and Practice Guidelines Committee addressed the topic. "The purpose of this ‘back to basics’ opinion,” the committee said, "is to give the bar a closer focus on the line and the ability to discern real unethical behavior from that which merely reflects professional differences.”
ABA Journal

Iowa chief justice discusses points of law with UNI class
Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady passionately made the case for public involvement in important political issues, even as he downplayed that role in deciding court cases during a presentation at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday night. Sentencing disparities, overcrowded prisons and other issues have not escaped Cady’s notice. But he argued if the public wants change, lawmakers must be told.
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

Limits on Expert Witness Testimony
The Iowa Supreme Court says expert witnesses cannot testify to a victim's credibility. Defendants in three recent child sex abuse trials all appealed to the high court, saying expert witness testimony crossed a line. During the trials experts testified, either directly or indirectly, that the children’s behaviors after the alleged abuse were the result of sexual trauma. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed the testimony went too far. Justice David Wiggins writes, "In our system of justice, it is the jury’s function to determine the credibility of a witness. An abuse of discretion occurs when a court allows such testimony."
Iowa Public Radio

UI Law school to add one-year master's program
Imagine you're an engineering student and, in order to understand how to make the most of your inventions and innovations, you want to learn more about property and patenting law. Do you sign up for three years of law school after graduation? Or if you're in a highly-regulated industry, like health care or finance, is it in your best interest to try to add a juris doctor degree next to other letters by your name?
Iowa City Press Citizen

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.

December 5

No. 12–0729

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marion County, Darrell J. Goodhue, Judge.

The State seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing a defendant’s conviction because the district court allowed expert testimony vouching for the victim’s credibility. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

No. 12–1633

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cedar County, Mark D. Cleve, Judge.

The State seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing a defendant’s conviction because the district court allowed expert testimony vouching for the victim’s credibility. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED.

No. 12–2264


On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Louisa County, John M. Wright, Judge.

The State seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing a defendant’s conviction because the district court allowed expert testimony vouching for the victim’s credibility. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED.



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Visit the Career Center or call (515) 697-7896 for more information.