UPDATES & ANALYSIS

4.19

As Iowa Supreme Court heads into the home stretch, 45 appeals are still in the pipeline

by Rox Laird | April 19, 2018

The Iowa Supreme Court is expected to release decisions in two cases Friday, which will bring to 63 the number of cases disposed of in the first eight months of the 2017-18 term.

The Court heard its final round of oral arguments on April 10, and all cases have now been submitted. With the release of Friday’s decisions, 43 submitted cases will remain to be decided between now and the end of the term in 10 weeks.

At that point, the Court will have disposed of 106 cases, including nine attorney-discipline cases, which is about normal for the Court, which typically decides about 105 cases each year. (One case, Merlos v. Banegas Contracting, was voluntarily dismissed.)

Not surprisingly, some of the more challenging and controversial cases have been saved for last. Among those are four appeals on the constitutionality of juvenile sentencing, an issue that has divided the Court in recent years. One of the four – State v. Crooks, on the question of whether it is constitutional to prosecute a 13-year-old as a youthful offender – is one of the two cases expected to be handed down Friday.

Among the cases of note that remain in the pipeline:

Jahnke v. Deere & Co., on whether the Iowa Civil Rights Act applies extraterritorially to a U.S. citizen working on assignment overseas; Iowa v. Kelso-Christy, on whether a blindfolded sexual encounter arranged using a fake Facebook account was consensual or illegal sex abuse;  Honomichl v. Valley View Swine, on whether an Iowa statute that gives livestock operations limited immunity from nuisance liability violates the inalienable rights clause of the Iowa Constitution; Planned Parenthood v. Kimberly Reynolds, on the constitutionality of Iowa’s statutory abortion restrictions; and, Bandstra v. Covenant Reformed Church, on whether church elders failed to adequately supervise a male pastor accused of sexually exploiting female congregants, or whether the church is shielded by the religious-freedom clauses of the U.S. and Iowa constitutions.

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