Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court

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Carl Hord's will created the Carl Hord Trust and directed that Carl's undivided one-half interest in 210 acres of farmland would pass to his niece and nephews upon the death of his wife, Lois, whom Carl named as a life beneficiary of the trust. The will also contained a spendthrift clause. While Lois was alive, five of the six remainder beneficiaries executed quitclaim deeds to Lois. Lois's will bequeathed her entire interest in the farmland to Waugh, including the remainder interests acquired from her nephews and niece. After Lois died, the remainder beneficiaries learned for the first time of the spendthrift clause. The beneficiaries filed a petition for construction of the trust and intervened in the probate action regarding Lois's estate, arguing that the spendthrift clause rendered their assignments and quitclaims deeds void. The probate court held that the beneficiaries' right to revoke their assignments terminated at Lois's death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the applicable statute of limitations barred the remainder beneficiaries from enforcing the terms of the spendthrift clause of Carl's will. View "In re Estate of Hord" on Justia Law

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The majority shareholder of a family farm corporation served as a director and officer of the corporation. A minority shareholder of the corporation (Plaintiff) sued the corporation and the majority shareholder (collectively, Defendants), alleging that illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent acts by the majority shareholder resulted in waste of the corporation's assets and constituted a breach of fiduciary duty. At the close of Plaintiff's evidence at trial, Defendants moved for a directed verdict. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the action, concluding that Plaintiff had presented no evidence that Defendants had acted fraudulently, illegally, or oppressively. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's oppression claim because the court did not apply the correct legal standard in the adjudication of the oppression claim. Remanded. View "Baur v. Baur Farms, Inc." on Justia Law

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A city and resident filed a petition against the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission, a local governmental body, alleging various violations of the Iowa Open Meetings Act (IOMA). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commission and its members (Defendants), finding (1) a volunteer of a governmental body has immunity pursuant to Iowa Code 28H.4 for damages due to alleged IOMA violations; (2) the Commission's meeting notices for its closed sessions satisfied the requirements of Iowa Code 21.4(1); and (3) the newspaper Defendants used for publication of the names and salaries of Commission members was a newspaper of general circulation under Iowa Code 28E.6(3)(a). The Supreme Court (1) affirmed as to issue of whether individual members of the Commission were immune from damages, as section 28H.4 exempts volunteers serving on councils of governments from personal liability; (2) reversed as to the reasonableness of the notice posted in the hallway of the Commission's offices, as genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the notice was easily accessible to the public; and (3) affirmed as to the issue of whether the publication was a newspaper of general circulation. Remanded. View "City of Postville v. Upper Explorerland Reg'l Planning Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana. At the hearing on Defendant's plea and sentencing, the sentencing court threatened to convict Defendant, instead of deferring judgment, if Defendant's declined to answer the court's inquiry on whether he would test positive on a drug test. Defendant invoked his right to remain silent. The court deferred judgment but imposed 250 hours of community service and a $350 penalty. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that the district court improperly penalized Defendant for invoking his right against self-incrimination by imposing 250 hours of community service unconnected to any legitimate penological goal related to the court's drug-test inquiry. Remanded for resentencing. View "State v. Washington" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that he could not be convicted of sexual exploitation by a school employee because none of the students involved with Defendant at the time of the events charged in the trial information were in an existing teacher-student relationship with Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant's convictions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) concluding that a contemporaneous teacher-student relationship was not required for Defendant to be convicted of sexual exploitation by a school employee; (2) concluding that physical contact between a school employee and student was not required to support a conviction for sexual exploitation by a school employee; and (3) refusing to sever Defendant's charges into multiple trials. View "State v. Romer" on Justia Law

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The State charged Defendant by way of trial information of "assault domestic abuse causing bodily injury - enhanced" and "assault domestic abuse by use or display of a weapon." At the close of evidence during the trial, the State moved to amend the trial information to add a habitual offender enhancement. Defendant's trial counsel did not object to the amendment, and the district court granted the State's motion. Defendant was subsequently convicted Defendant of the underlying charge in count I. After Defendant was sentenced, Defendant appealed, asserting that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the State's motion to amend the trial information. The court of appeals denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence but vacated the court of appeals decision to reject Defendant's ineffective-assistance claim, holding (1) under certain circumstances, an amendment to add a habitual offender enhancement to a trial information should not be allowed after the close of the evidence; but (2) the record in this case was insufficient to resolve Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "State v. Brothern" on Justia Law

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The Sierra Club and two of its local members challenged the Iowa Department of Transportation's (IDOT) decision to locate a highway adjacent to and through the Rock Island State Preserve by filing a petition for judicial review in the district court. The district court granted IDOT's motion to dismiss, finding that the Sierra Club had not exhausted all administrative remedies before filing its petition. The court of appeals dismissed the Sierra Club's appeal, finding (1) the notice of appeal was timely filed; (2) the Sierra Club was required to seek a declaratory order from IDOT before requesting court intervention; and (3) the case was not ripe for adjudication. The Supreme Court affirmed as to all issues except for ripeness, holding (1) the notice of appeal was timely because the Sierra Club triggered the tolling exception by filing a proper posttrial motion; (2) the Sierra Club must seek a declaratory order before petitioning for judicial review; and (3) the matter was ripe for adjudication. View "Sierra Club Iowa Chapter v. Iowa Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law

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The Iowa Board of Nursing and Iowa Department of Public Health (collectively, Defendants) enacted rules allowing advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) to supervise radiologic technologists using fluoroscopy machines. Several physician associates brought this action against Defendants to invalidate the rules. Two nursing associations intervened to defend the rules. The district court invalidated the rules, concluding that Defendants exceeded their authority in promulgating the rules. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Board's application of law to fact was not irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable; (2) the rules fell within the authority of the Board and Department; and (3) the other challenges to the rules failed. Remanded. View "Iowa Med. Soc'y v. Iowa Bd. of Nursing" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a parolee, was charged with four drug-related crimes after a search of her house by narcotics police officers revealed firearms and marijuana. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the marijuana as evidence at trial, arguing that it was obtained in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights because she did not consent to the search. The district court found that Defendant gave advance consent to search her property without a warrant or probable cause by signing a parole agreement and that the search was justified under exigent circumstances and the community caretaking function. Defendant was then convicted as charged. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) three of Defendant's convictions must be dismissed for a lack of substantial evidence; and (2) the warrantless search of Defendant's home and seizure of the evidence violated the Iowa Constitution, as (i) Defendant's parole agreement did not justify the search of her home, and (ii) no exception to the warrant requirement justified the search. View "State v. Kern" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was a middle school teacher involved in a physical altercation with a student. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners issued a statement of charges against Petitioner alleging student abuse. The Board subsequently imposed a ninety-day suspension of Petitioner's teaching license and permanent revocation of his physical education and coaching endorsements. Petitioner filed a petition for judicial review in district court within thirty days of the Board's denial of his application for rehearing but before the Board's final decision on the State's application for rehearing. The district court ultimately affirmed the Board's decision on the merits. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Petitioner's "premature" petition never invoked the district court's jurisdiction. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) the proper time to file a petition for judicial review is within thirty days after the agency's final decision on the last application granted for rehearing; and (2) Petitioner initially appealed prematurely before the Board's final decision on the State's rehearing application, but he later perfected his appeal to the district court. View "Christiansen v. Iowa Bd. of Educ. Examiners" on Justia Law