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The Supreme Court upheld the Iowa Department of Revenue’s sales tax assessment on labor installing building components sold by Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, except as to those transactions in which the predominant service or only service provided was carpentry installation work, holding that because the Department’s own regulations limit the definition of carpentry services subject to sales tax to those performed for repairs and omits installations services, the sales tax did not apply. The parties here disagreed whether the sales tax applied to labor installing items sold by Lowe’s to homeowners through installation contracts. The Supreme Court held that the sales tax did not apply to carpentry for installations other than repairs but that installation services by electrical and plumbing subcontractors, which involved no structural changes to the homes of customers, did not fall within the statutory exemption for “new construction, reconstruction, alteration, remodeling, or the services of a general building contractor.” See Iowa Code 423.3(37). View "Lowe's Home Centers, LLC v. Iowa Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals finding that there is no legislative authority supporting the use of the Iowa Risk Revised risk assessment tool (IRR) at sentencing and affirmed the decision of the district court, holding that the court’s use of the IRR in sentencing Defendant did not violate his due process rights. Defendant pled guilty to burglary in the second degree as part of a plea agreement. Defendant later violated the conditions of release and pled guilty to the additional charge of interference with official acts. The presentence investigation report stated that the interviewer completed an IRR, which recommended that Defendant be supervised at an intensive level. The district court sentenced Defendant to prison for an indeterminate term, not to exceed ten years plus ninety days in jail, to be served concurrently with the burglary sentence. The court of appeals vacated the sentence. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) the court did not infringe on Defendant’s due process rights based on its use of the IRR at sentencing; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion by discussing an unproven or unprosecuted offense. View "State v. Guise" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to prison for a maximum of ten years for theft in the first degree, to be served consecutively with five years for theft in the second degree, holding that Defendant failed to preserve his due process claim for direct appeal and that this Court could not reach Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel due process claim on direct appeal for the reasons stated in State v. Gordon, __ N.W.2d __ (Iowa 2018), also decided today. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court violated his due process rights by using an Iowa Risk Revised assessment report (IRR) in sentencing. In the alternative, Defendant argued that the court abused its discretion by considering the IRR without understanding the contours of the IRR. Defendant further asserted an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The Supreme Court affirmed for the reasons set forth in Gordon. View "State v. Buesing" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals reversing Defendant’s sentence and affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that Defendant failed to preserve error on his due process claim and that the district court did not use an unproven or unprosecuted offense when it sentenced Defendant. Defendant pled guilty to third-degree sexual abuse. As part of the presentence investigation, Defendant underwent a psychosexual evaluation, resulting in a psychosexual assessment report. The district court ultimately sentenced Defendant to a prison term not to exceed ten years. The court of appeals reversed, holding the the legislature has not deemed sex offender risk assessment tools relevant in imposing prison sentences. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and affirmed the district court’s sentence, holding (1) the district court did not violate Defendant’s due process rights by consideration of and reliance on the sex offender risk assessment tools in imposing its sentence; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by relying on an unproven or unprosecuted offense. View "State v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the juvenile court permitting Mother to participate from prison by telephone in a hearing to terminate parental rights, but only to give testimony, holding that an incarcerated parent is entitled to participate from a prison or jail facility during the entire hearing for termination of parental rights. Following the hearing, the juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights to her five children. At issue on appeal was whether the limitations imposed by the juvenile court on Mother’s participation in the hearing by telephone complied with due process. The Supreme Court rejected a rule that limits the telephone participation of an incarcerated parent in a hearing to terminate parental rights to giving testimony and, instead, adopted the standard that juvenile courts must give incarcerated parents the opportunity to participate from the prison facility in the entire termination hearing by telephone or other similar means of communication, holding that the competing interests involved do not justify the limitations imposed on full participation. View "In re M.D." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the position of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) determining that transfers made by Petitioners, nursing home residents, to a pooled special needs trust were for less than fair market value and required a delay in Petitioners’ eligibility for Medicaid benefits, holding that the district court and DHS correctly construed and applied federal law requiring the delay in Medicaid benefits for long-term institutional care. Federal eligibility requirements provide that state ensure that Medicaid benefits are reserved for persons who lack financial means and have not transferred personal asserts that could pay for their care. Petitioners, at age sixty-five, transferred more than one-half million dollars to a pooled special needs trust. The Supreme Court held that the district court and DHS properly interpreted federal law effectively requiring Petitioner’s to tap their pooled trust assets first to pay for their nursing home care. View "Cox v. Iowa Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court ordering Defendant to pay restitution to the City of Davenport for damage to patrol vehicles after Defendant pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and eluding an officer, holding that a government entity may, under the right circumstances, be a victim under the Iowa criminal restitution statute, Iowa Code chapter 910, under this Court’s precedents. On appeal, Defendant conceded that the Davenport police vehicles incurred damage when police officers attempted to stop him during a high-speed chase but argued that damage to police cars from a chase of a fleeing suspect is not recoverable under Iowa’s restitution statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the causation standard in the Restatement (Third) of Torts, the damage to the police vehicles would be within the scope of liability in a negligence action against Defendant; (2) the firefighter’s rule has no application in this case; and (3) the express legislative adoption of limited restitution for emergency response costs in drunk driving cases under Iowa Code 910.1(4) does prevent a restitution to the City of Davenport in this case. View "State v. Shears" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed a $1900 fine-based restitution award ordered by the district court after Defendant pleaded guilty to theft of a student backpack as punitive and unsupported by substantial evidence, holding that the scope-of-liability analysis in sections 29 and 33 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Liability for Physical and Emotional Harm applies in criminal restitution determinations. The operator of a training course for commercial truck driver imposed a $1900 fine on its student for the loss of a study guide. Defendant stole a backpack from the student’s parked car that contained the study guide. The student did not pay the fine. The district court concluded that $1900 far exceeded the actual cost to print the guide but ordered Defendant to pay that amount in restitution to the victim. The Supreme Court reversed after adopting the scope-of-liability analysis in the Restatement (Third) of Torts for criminal restitution cases, holding that the district court erred by awarding the amount of $1900 without substantial evidentiary support. View "State v. Roache" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the workers’ compensation commissioner declining to award benefits to a fast-food employee who suffered serious head injuries when he fell backwards directly to a tile floor after having a seizure while handling a customer order, holding that there is no blanket rule rendering certain categories of workplace idiopathic falls noncompensable. The commissioner reasoned that idiopathic falls from a standing or walking position to a level floor do not arise out of employment under the workers’ compensation law. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) whether injuries suffered in an idiopathic fall directly to the floor at a workplace arises out of employment is a factual matter, not a legal one, and the factual question to be determined is whether a condition employment increased the risk of injury; and (2) the commissioner in this case incorrectly treated a factual issue as a legal matter. View "Bluml v. Dee Jay's Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s application for postconviction relief (PCR), holding that Appellant’s requested remand for a new hearing was not available and that Appellant’s claim that his postconviction counsel was ineffective must be brought in a separate application for PCR. In his application for PCR Appellant sought to vacate his conviction based on newly discovered evidence. The district court denied the PCR application and rejected Appellant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court improperly dismissed his PCR application because his postconviction counsel failed to present physical evidence at the PCR hearing to support his claim. Therefore, Appellant asked that his PCR application be remanded to the district court for a new hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no error occurred, that the request made to remand the case failed, and that Appellant must raise his claim of ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel in a separate application for PCR. View "Goode v. State" on Justia Law