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Iowa Supreme Court expected to release opinions in four cases Friday

by Rox Laird | April 8, 2021

Opinions in four cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, April 9. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of the cases. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read briefs filed with the Court in these appeals.

Bribriesco-Ledger v. Klipsch, City of Davenport

 Argued Dec. 15, 2020.

.Question: Is a mayor empowered to remove a city civil rights commissioner without cause?

Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch appeals a Scott County District Court ruling denying his motion to dismiss on summary judgment a lawsuit by the mayor’s appointee to the Davenport Civil Rights Commission. Commission member Nicole Bribriesco-Ledger claims the mayor lacked authority to remove her from the commission without cause. Klipsch argues that Iowa Code Section 216.19(2), which provides for creation of an “independent” civil rights commission, is not in conflict with Section 372.15, which authorizes the mayor to remove his or her appointments, without having to show cause.

Fortune v. State

 Argued Feb. 16, 2021.

Issue: Should a convicted sex offender’s post-prison restrictions be modified as allowed by statute?

Ron Fortune appeals the Humboldt County District Court’s decision rejecting his application under Iowa Code Section 692A.128 for modification of his sex-offender registry requirements. Fortune served nearly six years in prison for lascivious acts with a child. After being in the community for about 10 years, he filed an application for modification of his sex-offender restrictions, saying he qualified under the statute because he was assessed as a low risk for reoffending. Fortune argues that the trial court wrongly rejected his application for reasons apparently unrelated to his risk of reoffending. Fortune urges the Supreme Court to decide what discretion the District Court has in rejecting an application when an applicant claims to have established that he satisfies the criteria set by the Legislature.

State v. Smith

 Submitted without argument Nov. 17, 2020.

Issue: Did the State’s delays in filing a criminal complaint violate the defendant’s right to due process and to a speedy trial?

The State appeals a Dubuque County District Court ruling dismissing a robbery charge against Deaonsy Smith Jr. because the State’s eight-month delay between issuing a warrant and filing the criminal complaint against Smith violated his right to due process and a speedy trial. The District Court found that the delay in filing a trial information against Smith while he was incarcerated on a different charge violated the Fifth Amendment and the 45-day requirement under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33. The State argues Smith failed to establish that his defense suffered “actual prejudice” because of the delay and that the delay was unreasonable.

Becher v. State

 Submitted to the Court Feb. 16, 2021, without oral argument.

Issue: Should sex offender registration requirements have been modified for an offender deemed a “below average” risk of reoffending?

Dennis Becher appeals the Dubuque County District Court’s ruling denying his application to modify his lifetime sex offender registration requirements. Becher pled guilty to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse. After he discharged his prison sentence and completed sex-offender treatment, Becher sought modification of his sex offender registration requirements. The trial court held that it would not “remove the protection that the registration requirement affords the community simply because Becher, who put himself in this position by sexually abusing a child, is a ‘below average’ risk to reoffend.” Becher argues on appeal that the trial court failed to apply an appropriate legal standard for determining whether he is likely to reoffend.

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