UPDATES & ANALYSIS

4.29

Iowa Supreme Court expected to release opinions in six cases Friday

by Rox Laird | April 29, 2021

Opinions in six cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, April 30. 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.

State v. Goodson

Submitted to the Court without oral argument Nov. 18, 2020

Issues: Was a trial court wrong in admitting evidence of a defendant’s prior crimes; should the judge have recused; and should two of the charges have been merged?

Mario Goodson seeks further review of a July 1 Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming his jury convictions and sentence in Black Hawk County District Court for first-degree burglary, operating a motor vehicle without its owner’s consent, domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, and third-degree sexual abuse. In his application for further review Goodson argues the trial court erred in allowing the introduction of evidence of his other crimes, wrongs, or bad acts; that the trial judge should have recused himself; and that two of the charges should have been merged.

In the Matter of the Estate of Francis O. Glaser

Submitted to the Court Jan. 20, 2021.

Issue: Should property transferred by its owner to third parties prior to his death to defraud creditors be returned to decedent’s estate?

Sherri Kindsfather seeks further review of a July 22, 2020 Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming a Jackson County District Court ruling that Francis O. Glaser conveyed three parcels of property to Kindsfather and half interest in a farm to Kindsfather’s mother prior to Glaser’s death to defraud his creditors, and affirming the District Court’s order setting aside three of those conveyances and returning the property to Glaser’s estate. Judy Bowling, fiduciary of the Glaser estate, and the Iowa Department of Revenue seek further review of the Court of Appeals decision that reversed the trial court on two issues related to the conveyance of the farm.

StateLine Cooperative v. Iowa Property Assessment Appeal Board, and Emmet County Board of Review

Argued March 23, 2021

Issue: What is the correct standard for tax exemptions for machinery used in manufacturing?

The Iowa Property Assessment Appeal Board and the Emmet County Board of Review seek further review of a Nov. 4, 2020, Iowa Court of Appeals decision reversing an Emmet County District Court ruling regarding Emmet County’s assessment of the property tax value of StateLine Cooperative’s feed mill. The issue before the Supreme Court is the correct application of the Iowa Code regarding tax exemptions for “machinery used in manufacturing establishments.” StateLine unsuccessfully challenged Emmett County’s $4.2 million assessment of its plant’s taxable value before the Emmet County Board of Review, appealed that decision to the Iowa Property Assessment Appeal Board, which mostly upheld the county board, and then appealed the state board’s decision to the Emmet County District Court, which affirmed the state board’s decision. The appellants now ask the Iowa Supreme Court to reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the District Court.

In the matter of the Estate of Vera E. Cawiezell, deceased

Argued March 24, 2021.

Issue: Did a trial court correctly rule on provisions of a will contested by executors?

The executors of the Estate of Vera E. Cawiezell seek further review of a Nov. 4, 2020, Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming the Muscatine County District Court’s ruling regarding Cawiezell’s will. The Court of Appeals held that the District Court properly ruled that a restriction on alienability in the decedent’s will was not valid, affirmed the trial court’s ruling on the provisions of the will concerning the farm tenant’s first right of refusal to purchase the farmland and his continued leasing of the property, and held that the trial court properly determined the boundary lines of the decedent’s residence.

Morris v. Pretty Woman, Inc.

Argued Jan. 21, 2021

Issue: Did an adult entertainment establishment owe a duty to care to a patron ejected from the premises who left premises on foot and was subsequently run over by vehicle?

Appellants Pretty Woman, Inc., J.P. Parking., Inc., and James Petry seek further review of an Aug. 5, 2020, Iowa Court of Appeals ruling reversing the Polk County District Court’s dismissal on summary judgment of a premises liability claim brought by the estate of Daulton Holly. Holly was asked by staff to leave The Beach Girls strip club because he was intoxicated, and he set out on foot in the remote area after dark. Holly was later struck and killed by a vehicle operated by a drunk driver. Beach Girls argues that the trial court correctly held that no duty to exercise reasonable care was owed to Holly after he left the premises.

Sand v. Doe and State Agency

Argued Feb. 16, 2021

Issue: Must a State agency comply with a State Auditor’s subpoena?

An unnamed State agency appeals the Polk County District Court’s ruling that State Auditor Rob Sand was engaged in a proper audit of the agency and was thus authorized to issue a subpoena of the agency’s records under Iowa Code Section 11.51. Because the statute requires the auditor to maintain confidentiality of audit work papers, the subpoena litigation was filed under seal, and the agency is not named in court documents. Sand issued the subpoena to the agency requesting production of documents and records regarding a financial transaction between the agency, a subdivision of the agency, and a consortium of private developers. The agency argues that Sand’s statutory subpoena power fell outside “an authorized audit or examination” since the fiscal 2020 audit had not officially begun. The agency also argues that, even if the auditor was authorized to issue a subpoena, the subpoena was overly broad and unduly burdensome.

An amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief was filed in this case by The Kirkwood Institute, which argues that the Supreme Court should dismiss the case because Iowa Code Section 679A.19 requires that State agencies resolve disputes by binding arbitration, not litigation.

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