Devoted to Iowa’s Appellate Litigation System

With a focus on the Iowa Supreme Court, the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, On Brief: Iowa’s Appellate Blog is devoted to providing updates and analysis of current and ongoing appellate litigation.

The site offers benefits to attorneys, parties to litigation, and others affected by the arguments and outcomes of appellate litigation.


How Appellate Procedure Works in Iowa
  • All appeals on civil and criminal matters come directly to the Iowa Supreme Court.
  • Staff attorneys in the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office review all appeals and write a memo to the justices recommending whether a case should be retained by the Supreme Court or transferred to the Court of Appeals.
  • Panels of three justices read those memos each month and choose which cases will be retained and which will be transferred to the Court of Appeals. It takes two votes to retain a case, but most votes on retaining cases are unanimous.
  • Three-judge panels hear cases transferred to the Court of Appeals by the Supreme Court. Parties may apply to the Supreme Court for further review of a decision by the Court of Appeals.
  • About 500 such applications for further review are filed with the Court each year.
  • Every justice reads those applications, the Court of Appeals ruling, related briefs, and the court record.
  • Then the justices vote on a “voting sheet” — marking “Y” for yes, “N” for no.
  • Yes means at least a justice wants to review the case with the full court in conference, or at least look further into the case. A case may be held over and one justice may be delegated to look further into the case.
  • Only one “Y” vote is needed for a case to go to a conference. All “N”s mean that case does not go to a conference. Yes votes may include comments from the justices, which are circulated, and there may be some back and forth among the justices.
  • It takes the vote of four of the seven justices to grant further review.


[Note: This description of Iowa’s appellate procedure is based on an October 2020 interview with Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield by the Judicial Branch’s “In the Balance” podcast.]


Site Information About Appellate Litigation Includes:
  • Descriptions of case rulings
  • News related to state and federal appeals courts
  • Case descriptions of upcoming arguments
  • Calendar of cases:
    • Cases argued by month
    • Cases set for argument
    • Cases screened for Iowa Supreme Court review
    • Cases granted further review
  • Access to briefs filed:
    • Appellant briefs
    • Appellee briefs
    • Appellant reply briefs
    • Amicus briefs


The blog is compiled and edited by attorneys and contributors at Nyemaster Goode. Iowa’s
largest law firm, Nyemaster Goode provides outstanding legal service to clients that range from individuals and emerging start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.


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On Brief: Iowa’s Appellate Blog is devoted to appellate litigation with a focus on the Iowa Supreme Court, the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.


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