courts

Kate Payne/IPR file

Three Iowa lawyers and a prosecutor in a conference call today questioned the legitimacy of Gov. Kim Reynolds' appointment of new 6th District Judge Jason Besler.   They predict that Besler’s rulings will be subject to appeal.   

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds this week defended her appointment of 6th District Judge Jason Besler, following questions about whether it met a constitutional deadline. 

The governor must make a judicial appointment by 30 days after names are submitted to her.  If the deadline is not met, the constitution requires the chief justice to make the appointment instead.

John Pemble/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office is defending a recent judicial appointment, after a Democratic blogger claimed the governor missed the deadline for selecting a new district judge.

According to Bleeding Heartland, there is no written confirmation that Reynolds selected Jason Besler for the 6th district judgeship by 30 days after his name was submitted to her.

According to the Iowa Constitution, if the deadline is missed, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court makes the selection instead.

gavel
Wikimedia Commons

A recent complaint filed in federal court in Sioux City alleges agrochemical company Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup gave a man cancer.

rebecca kiessling
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Polk County judge heard arguments Friday from a group trying to intervene in a legal challenge over Iowa’s law that bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The Michigan-based group, Save the 1, claims the law’s exceptions for victims of rape and incest are unconstitutional because they discriminate against people conceived in those situations.

Burlington Hawk Eye Newspaper

A federal judge in Davenport Tuesday ruled that body camera video and other evidence in a 2015 Burlington police shooting should be made public.

Thirty-four-year-old Autumn Steele was shot and killed by officer Jesse Hill after responding to a domestic abuse call at her home.

The Burlington Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation have resisted release of the video.

Under Judge James Gritzner’s ruling, the city of Burlington will have 14 days to propose redactions to be approved by the court before the information is made public.

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Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate won a partial victory Friday in his quest to preserve the state’s new voter ID law, including new restrictions on absentee ballots.   

Under an order issued Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court, early voting for the November election will be allowed for 29 days before Election Day, as dictated by the new law.  

Critics of the law had hoped to prevent the state from shortening the time and instead keep the old limit of 40 days.     

Joyce Russell/IPR

Attorneys for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate were at the Iowa Supreme Court today, arguing for reinstatement of parts of Iowa’s new Voter ID law.     

Requiring an ID at the polls doesn’t take effect until next year, but new rules for absentee ballots went into effect this year.

Last month, a district court judge issued a temporary injunction halting those parts of the law.   The Secretary of State wants the injunction lifted so the new absentee ballot rules can be in effect for the November election.

Rafael Radkowski/flickr

Iowa State University has settled two lawsuits filed by an African-American woman who was fired from her position as head of the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX coordinator.

The suits involved the university’s handling of a case of sexual assault.

One suit filed in U.S. District Court in Des Moines and another in federal court in Iowa’s southern district claim Robinette Kelley was prevented from enforcing civils rights regulations on campus under Iowa’s Civil Rights Statute and under the federal government’s Title IX. 

susan christensen
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed District Court Judge Susan Christensen to the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday to take the place of retiring Justice Bruce Zager.

Christensen, 56, lives in Harlan and works in Iowa’s Fourth Judicial District. She has worked in family and juvenile law and has served as an assistant county attorney.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Portions of Iowa’s controversial voter ID law will not be enforced for now, after a ruling today by a Polk County District Court judge.  

The law signed by former Governor Terry Branstad in 2017 requires voters to show identification at the polls starting in 2019.

Judge Karen Romano’s ruling temporarily blocks other parts of the law governing absentee ballots which were already in effect for the June primary election.

Iowa Public Radio

A former justice is warning a lack of diversity on Iowa’s Supreme Court could undermine its legitimacy. With an upcoming vacancy on the bench, state officials could have a chance to consider the issue. The judicial nominating commission began interviewing applicants Monday.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Petitioners challenging Iowa’s voter ID law were in Polk County District court Friday, urging a district judge to temporarily halt enforcement of parts of the law. 

Ames resident Taylor Blair and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa are suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over the law.

The requirements in the law to show identification at the polls don’t go into effect until next year.  But on Friday, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued for a temporary injunction to stop the parts of the law that are already in effect dealing with absentee ballots.   

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the U.S.  Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs is beefing up staff to help evaluate President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.        

And Grassley says if past confirmation schedules are a guide, the new justice could be on the bench to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy by the opening of the court’s next term on the first Monday in October.   

President Trump will announce his choice on Monday.     

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says diversity alone will not be enough to win an upcoming vacancy on the state’s Supreme Court. Justice Bruce Zager is retiring on September 3, 2018 and Reynolds is slated to name his replacement. It could be an opportunity to diversify a judiciary overwhelmingly made up of white men.

Douglas Palmer/Flickr

The question of how to apply Iowa’s 'Stand Your Ground' law is once again before a judge, this time in Iowa's 6th Judicial District. The case involving a shooting outside of a Cedar Rapids bar could be another opportunity for a judge to weigh in on the 2017 measure.

ACLU of Iowa

A Polk County District Court judge this week ordered the Iowa Department of Human Services to cover the costs of sex reassignment surgery for two transgender women.  

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s the first court ruling recognizing the rights of transgender Iowans under the Iowa Constitution and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.    

In his ruling Chief District Judge Arthur Gamble ordered DHS to approve Medicaid coverage for what’s known as gender-affirming surgery for Carol Ann Beal of northwest Iowa and EerieAnna Good of the Quad Cities.   

planned parenthood lawyer
Michael Zamora / Des Moines Register

A Polk County judge Friday temporarily blocked Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law from being enforced while a legal challenge is underway. The law, which bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, was supposed to take effect July 1.

The temporary injunction is the first step in a legal challenge led by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa. They, along with the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, argue the law is unconstitutional.

CTF83/Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Supreme Court has considered several questions recently, including: When do hugs between a student and a school employee add up to illegal sexual contact? Also, if a neglected property becomes an eyesore, can the city take it without paying the owner a dime?

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal expert Todd Pettys about the stories behind several Iowa Supreme Court cases. Pettys also shares his thoughts on whether Iowa’s new fetal heartbeat law will be struck down.

Pettys is the H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Cases discussed this hour include:

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Jill Meadows v. Kimberly K. Reynolds ex rel. State of Iowa and Iowa Board of Medicine

More information: https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/supreme-court/supreme-court-oral-argument-schedule/case/17-1579

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Iowa Department of Transportation does not have the authority to regulate cities’ traffic cameras.

In a 6-0 opinion, Supreme Court justices agreed the IDOT cannot order Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine to remove or relocate traffic cameras. The state legislature would have to pass a law specifically granting the IDOT the authority to make and enforce rules for cities’ traffic cameras.

U.S. Supreme Court Cases Pending and Decided

Apr 19, 2018
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode
Andrew Bardwell

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal analysts Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and law professor at the University of Iowa, and Tony Gaughan, Professor of Law and Drake University Law School about prominent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Along with some other courts news, here are some of the cases they discuss:

Benisek v. Lamone and Gill v Whitford  – Both are gerrymandering cases.

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa’s court system could soon be filling vacant judge positions across the state that have been causing delays in court proceedings, if a proposed House GOP budget becomes law.  

To balance the budget for the fiscal year that ends in June, the courts eliminated 67 positions statewide and held open judicial vacancies for an average of one year.

Under a House GOP Judicial Branch budget that advanced this week, the court system would get a $4.3 million increase in its appropriation next year.    

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SalFalko / Flickr

A Johnson County judge has found Lamar Wilson was not justified in shooting three people on Iowa City’s crowded Pedestrian Mall last summer.

Wilson claimed he fired his gun in self-defense, and asked the judge to grant him immunity from criminal charges in an early test of Iowa’s “stand your ground” law, which was passed in 2017.

supreme court
John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court has made it possible for people who plead guilty to a crime to later claim innocence and challenge their conviction.

In a 4-3 opinion issued Friday, the court overturned its previous interpretation of Iowa law concerning post-conviction relief for those who plead guilty.

iowa judicial branch building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case in which two women are suing a Pella church for failing to supervise a pastor who sexually exploited them.

The Bandstra family argues they should be allowed to sue the Board of Elders of the Covenant Reformed Church for negligent supervision and defamation.

Valerie and Anne Bandstra say statements from the church board accused them of adultery for their sexual contact with former pastor Patrick Edouard, who was convicted of four counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor in 2012.

todd nuccio
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The head of Iowa’s court system warned lawmakers Wednesday of more court delays and possible courthouse closures if they cut more funding from the judicial branch.

Iowa courts got a $3 million budget cut last year. This year, lawmakers are considering cutting another $1.6 million for the fiscal year that ends in June.

“At current funding levels now, we’re not meeting the need,” said State Court Administrator Todd Nuccio.

IowaPolitics.com / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but Iowa is one of a handful of states that does not mention this right in its constitution.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR correspondent Joyce Russell talk with lawmakers for and against the proposal to add the right to bear arms to the Iowa Constitution. 

alice clapman
Michael Zamora / The Des Moines Register

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit over a state-mandated, three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions.

senate judiciary committee
John Pemble / IPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that would require a supermajority of Iowa Supreme Court justices to declare a law unconstitutional.

Five of the Supreme Court’s seven justices would have to agree in order to declare an Iowa statute unconstitutional.

Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, said he feels the Iowa Supreme Court has “overstepped its bounds.”

gavel
Wikimedia Commons

A jury Wednesday found Lamar Wilson guilty of voluntary manslaughter in a fatal shooting in downtown Iowa City’s Pedestrian Mall last summer. Wilson was accused of killing one man and injuring two others shortly before bar close on Aug. 27, 2017.

Prosecutors originally charged Wilson with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. The lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter means the jury found Wilson intentionally shot the man who died, but he did so because of “sudden, violent and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation.”

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