Legislators propose overhaul of Judicial Merit Selection
On Monday, companion bills were filed in the Iowa House and Senate that change the membership and procedures of the state and district judicial nominating commissions, as well as some of the qualification requirements for applicant judges. You can read more in this article in Monday's Des Moines Register.
WHAT DOES THIS BILL DO?
• Iowa attorneys would no longer elect half of the judicial nominating commissioners. Instead, the top two leadership positions in the House and Senate (House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader) would make the selections.
• The Governor would choose the other eight members, at least half of whom would have to be attorneys.
• These picks are not subject to Senate confirmation.
• The Governor would select the commission's chair instead of the senior judge serving as chair, as is the case now.
• This bill opens up the possibility for attorneys to apply for a judicial vacancy anywhere in the state. They would no longer have to reside in the district before they apply, as is law now.
The ISBA is opposed to any efforts to infuse partisan politics into the judicial nominating process and has registered in opposition to this bill. It is what a bipartisan legislature and Iowa voters sought to avoid 56 years ago when the Iowa Constitution was amended to adopt merit selection. ISBA President Tom Levis writes about his concerns in his February President's Letter in The Iowa Lawyer magazine. Please consider reaching out to your lawmakers to urge them to oppose these bills.
Deadline fast approaching to comment on mandatory family law mediation
Monday, Feb. 25, is the deadline for commenting on whether certain mediation practices in family law matters should be made uniform across the state. According to the proposed rules, which are contained in a new Chapter 15 of the Iowa Court Rules, “all parties must participate in mediation in all cases involving permanent custody, visitation, and other matters filed under Iowa Code chapters 598 and 600B.”
The proposed rules provide that each judicial district or court “retains the authority to order mediation for other matters” outlined in Rule 15.3(1). Cases such as all temporary proceedings, all contempt proceedings, elder abuse and domestic abuse are exempt from mandatory mediation. The proposed rules also set the schedule when mediation must occur, specify the selection of mediators and lay out the mediation process.
The public comment period was initiated by a supreme court order filed Nov. 26. That order recounted the history leading up to the proposed rules, including the directive by the legislature in 2000 that the supreme court establish a dispute resolution program in family law cases. See the requirements for submitting comments in the order.
CLE focuses on risks associated with the practice of law
On Feb. 27, Theresa Garthwaite and Matthew Fitterer, both of CNA Insurance, will present Shifting Landscapes: Adapting Your Firm to Emerging Threat. This two-hour live webinar will walk attendees through the necessary steps they need to take to safeguard themselves and their practices.
The session is broken into four sections:
• Section 1: Five Steps Towards A More Professionally Responsible and More Profitable Practice
• Section 2: Clients with Diminished Capacity: Rising to the Challenges of an Aging Clientele
• Section 3: A Day in the Life of Lydia the Lawyer
• Section 4: Cautionary Case Law
ISBA members who attend this CLE and are CNA policy holders are eligible to receive up to a 7.5 percent credit on their policy premiums for two policy years. The discount is per lawyer and will be applied at the next insurance renewal.
The event is sponsored by Lockton Affinity, CNA and The Iowa State Bar Association.
CLE filing reports due March 10
Annual attorney reports to be filed with the Office of Professional Regulation are due on or before March 10. Active attorneys and judges must record the CLE they attended in calendar year 2018. There is a 15-hour general CLE requirement, but no ethics requirement for 2018. To help you in filling out the form, you can view a list of ISBA-sponsored CLEs here.
Two district judge seats open in District 2B
As the result of the mandatory retirement of the Honorable William C. Ostlund and the Honorable Thomas J. Bice, two district judge seats are open for applications in District 2B. The nominating commission will nominate four individuals to send to the Governor to fill these two vacancies.
Completed applications must be received by the district court administrator at the Webster County Courthouse no later than 2:30 p.m. on March 1. The commission will meet on Friday, March 8, at 9 a.m. in the Hamilton County Courthouse, 2300 Superior St., Webster City to nominate candidates.
Applications and a commission member list for this judicial vacancy are available at the office of the district court administrator. View the full notice of vacancy here.
February Iowa Lawyer magazine published online
The February 2019 issue of The Iowa Lawyer is now available online. In this issue, you can read a preview of the 2019 legislative session written by the ISBA’s legislative counsel team. This month’s President’s Letter lays out the case for keeping Iowa’s Judicial Merit Selection system, amid potential efforts to change it by lawmakers. This issue also summarizes some innovative judicial branch initiatives proposed by Chief Justice Mark Cady.
Those who elect to receive the print version of the magazine should see it in mailboxes early next week.
IRS offers new process for tax preparers to obtain wage, income transcripts
The IRS has created a new process that allows tax practitioners to access employer information used in return preparation and electronic filing while also protecting taxpayer data. The new process replaces faxed transcripts.
Starting last September, the IRS began partially masking personally identifiable information for all individuals and entities listed on an individual tax return. These masked transcripts are available to tax professionals through the agency’s Transcript Delivery Service. In addition, as of January, tax professionals who meet certain requirements may also request unmasked wage and income transcripts. These transcripts show the full employer name, address and employer identification number needed by tax preparation software in order to e-file returns.
More details are available on the IRS Fact Sheet 2018-20. A link in that fact sheet provides additional information on the new tax transcripts.
|SUPREME COURT OPINIONS
City of West Liberty v. Employers Mutual Casualty Company
A municipality seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming summary judgment in favor of an insurer.
DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AND JUDGMENT OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED
|IN OTHER NEWS
Iowa students learn about law in London
When Iowa Law students traveled overseas for 14 days this winter break to study British law, they didn’t just learn about the differences between the legal systems in the United States and United Kingdom, they got at a first-hand look at some of the most important legal institutions in Britain.
Lawyer is suspended after conviction for chest bumping prosecutor
A Louisiana lawyer has been suspended from law practice following a battery conviction for chest bumping a district attorney in a judge’s chambers.
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ADMISSION ON MOTION
The following individuals applied for admission on motion to the Iowa Bar:
Troy M. Calkins, Workiva, Chicago, IL
Shaun Cunningham, Des Moines, IAAnyone with questions or comments on the above applicants should contact: Tre Critelli at the Office of Professional Regulation, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319; Phone: 515-348-4670.