On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog

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The Iowa Supreme Court will hear appeals in the coming term on the question of whether the State of Iowa or the federal government has jurisdiction over two criminal cases involving Native American members of the Tama Indian Settlement in Tama County. The cases are State v. Bear (20-0401) and State v. Cungtion (20-0409). (Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read the briefs filed in these cases under the “Screened for Supreme Court” tab.) State v. Bear was originally scheduled to be submitted without oral argument in March but has been held over for the 2021-22…
Four years ago, three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court said the Iowa Constitution provided a cause of action for a state official bringing a claim against the governor and his staff alleging that they deprived him the constitutional right to due process based on his sexual orientation or partisan politics. Then-Chief Justice Mark Cady, writing the controlling opinion for the Court, held that the Iowa Constitution provided a cause of action for the constitutional tort claim predicated on his sexual orientation only if Godfrey’s claim was not covered by the Iowa Civil Rights Act. In other words, the state…
In State of Iowa ex rel. Dickey v. Besler, an opinion issued in February 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court was confronted with a lawsuit by a private citizen challenging the appointment of and Iowa District Court judge as invalid under state law. The Supreme Court held that a private citizen does possess standing to bring a quo warranto action against an individual’s right to hold public office, but this particular action, challenging a judicial appointment, was a nonjusticiable political question not properly presented to the judicial branch. In May 2018, the Iowa judicial nominating commission for the sixth judicial district…
Nicole Bribriesco-Ledger was appointed to serve a regular two-year term on the Davenport Civil Rights Commission beginning on December 1, 2017. On April 15, 2019, the Mayor of Davenport, Frank Klipsch, removed removed Bribriesco-Ledger and three other commissioners via letter. Klipsch appointed four new commissioners on April 24. The issue in this case was whether Davenport’s mayor may remove an appointee from the Davenport Civil Rights Commission without cause. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that he could. Davenport Mayor, Frank Klipsch, appointed Nicole Bribriesco-Ledger to serve a regular two-year term on the Davenport Civil Rights Commission beginning on December 1,…
Opinions in three cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday, June 30, the final day of the 2020-21 term. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of those three cases.   Godfrey v. State of Iowa, Terry Branstad, in his official capacity as Governor, and Brenna Findley, in her official capacity as Legal Counsel to the Governor  Argued March 24, 2021. Issue: Did an appointed state officer assert legally viable claims against the former governor and his aides? [Disclaimer: Nyemaster Goode attorneys Frank Harty, Debra Hulett, Katie Graham, and David Bower represent the appellants in…
The Iowa Supreme Court on June 18 ruled that a Waterloo city ordinance that bars employers from denying jobs to applicants with criminal records is unenforceable because an Iowa statute prohibits cities from setting terms and conditions of employment that go beyond what state law allows. But the Court said a provision of Waterloo’s ordinance that only delays criminal history checks until a job offer has been made is enforceable because it does not conflict with state law.   Waterloo’s ordinance, as enacted in 2019, prohibits employers from asking applicants about their criminal histories on job applications and from making…
Opinions in seven cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, June 18. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page and click on the “Cases Argued” tab to see which cases that were argued this term remain to be decided this term, which ends June 30. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of the seven cases scheduled for release June 18. State v. Wright Argued Sept. 17, 2020 Question: Does a police search of a suspect’s trash violate the Fourth Amendment? Nicholas Wright seeks reversal of a Feb. 5 Iowa Court of Appeals…
The U.S. Supreme Court remanded a case involving a warrantless search by Dubuque police to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of a May 17 Supreme Court decision that narrowed the scope of a precedent on which the appeals court relied. The Eighth Circuit held in United States v. Sanders in April 2020 that a warrantless search of the residence of a Dubuque man did not violate the Fourth Amendment because Dubuque police officers were justified in entering the home under the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment. The officers were responding to a…
Opinions in three cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, June 11. With those three cases decided, 17 cases argued in the 2020-21 term remain to be decided. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page and click on the “Cases Argued” tab to see which cases that were argued this term remain to be decided. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of the three cases scheduled for release June 11. David Buboltz and Donna Reece v. Patricia Birusingh, individually and in Her Capacity as Co-Executor of the Estate of Cletis C. Ireland,…
Five years ago, a deeply divided Iowa Supreme Court issued a decision on the question of whether a drunken driving suspect was entitled under State statute or the Iowa Constitution to speak privately to an attorney by phone before deciding whether to consent to a blood-alcohol test. A plurality opinion for three of the seven members of that Court said neither a State statute nor the Iowa Constitution provided appellant John Arthur Senn Jr. the right to a telephone consultation with a lawyer without a police officer overhearing his side of the conversation. The plurality opinion in the 2016 Senn…