UPDATES & ANALYSIS

10.13

Iowa Supreme Court to hear arguments in 11 cases Wednesday and Thursday

by Rox Laird | October 13, 2020

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear arguments in 11 appeals Oct. 14 and 15. In addition, three cases will be submitted to the Court this week without oral argument.

Following are brief summaries of the October cases. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read briefs filed in these appeals.

In the interest of D.D., Minor Child

Issue: Should a Child In Need of Assistance proceeding be terminated?

Set for argument Oct. 14, 9 a.m.

The father of minor child D.D. seeks further review of a divided July 1 Iowa Court of Appeals decision affirming a Des Moines County District Court dismissal of a Child In Need of Assistance proceeding, allowing the child to be returned to her mother and her step-father, who had been accused of sexual abuse of D.D. Two members of the appeals court panel agreed with dismissing the CINA proceeding, with one member dissenting.

State v. Treptow

Issue: Was appellant’s guilty plea invalid; and, are legislative limits on appeals unconstitutional?

Set for argument Oct. 14, 9 a.m.

David J. Treptow appeals his conviction on drug charges in Buchanan County District Court following his guilty plea. Treptow urges the Court to vacate his guilty plea and sentence for one of the charges, saying there was no factual basis in the record for his plea. Treptow also asks the Court to find that the Iowa General Assembly breached constitutional separation-of-powers with 2019 legislation that curtailed defendants’ right to appeal judgments and sentences based on guilty pleas in certain prosecutions, and which prohibits Iowa appellate courts from deciding an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim on direct appeal in a criminal proceeding. Treptow urges the Court to adopt a “plain error” rule, which would allow appellate review of constitutional challenges not preserved at the trial court level.

State v. Tucker

Issue: Was appellant’s guilty plea knowing and voluntary; and, are legislative limits on appeals unconstitutional?

Set for argument Oct. 14, 9 a.m.

Tyjaun Levell Tucker appeals his sentence after pleading guilty in Polk County District Court to second-degree theft, arguing that his plea was not knowing and voluntary. Tucker asks the Court to find that the Iowa General Assembly breached constitutional separation-of-powers with 2019 legislation that curtailed defendants’ right to appeal judgments and sentences based on guilty pleas in certain prosecutions, and which prohibits Iowa appellate courts from deciding an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim on direct appeal in a criminal proceeding.

State v. Thompson

Issue: Did trial court improperly revoke appellant’s deferred judgment?

Will be submitted to the Court without oral argument

Ashley Dawn Thompson appeals a Poweshiek County District Court order revoking her deferred judgment on a charge of child endangerment. Thompson argues that she was not provided written notice of alleged probation violations, that she did not have an opportunity to present witnesses or evidence, and that the trial court order revoking her deferred judgment did not specify evidence it relied on. Thompson also argues the District Court erred in ordering her to pay court-appointed attorney fees and sheriff’s fees without knowing the amount of restitution.

Dix, et al. v. Casey’s General Stores, Inc.

Question: Were employees improperly required to take drug tests?

Set for oral argument Oct. 14, 1:30 p.m.

Casey’s General Stores seeks further review of a Jan. 9 Iowa Court of Appeals decision affirming a Polk County District Court ruling that the company improperly included two employees in a pool of safety-sensitive workers selected for drug tests. Two former Casey’s employees cross-appeal the trial court’s holding that they failed to prove that their drug tests were adverse employment actions.

An amicus curiae brief was submitted to the Supreme Court by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry in support of Casey’s General Stores. [Disclosure: The amicus brief was written by Nyemaster Goode attorney Leslie Behaunek.]

Woods v. Charles Gabus Ford, Inc.

Question: Did an employer substantially comply with Iowa’s drug-testing statute?

Set for oral argument Oct. 14, 1:30 p.m.

Charles Gabus Ford seeks further review of a Jan. 9 Iowa Court of Appeals decision reversing a Polk County District Court ruling that the company did not violate Iowa’s drug-testing statute by failing to include the cost of a confirmatory drug test in its post-test notice to Woods that he had failed the company’s drug test. Gabus argues that it substantially complied with the requirements of the statute.

State v. Davis

Issue: Should jury instructions have included a reference to defendant’s insanity defense?

Set for oral argument Oct. 14, 1:30 p.m.

Gregory Michael Davis seeks further review of an April 29 ruling by a three-judge panel of the Iowa Court of Appeals, with one dissent, affirming his Linn County District Court conviction for first-degree murder. Davis argues the jury instructions should have included a reference to his insanity defense.

State v. Kilby

Set for oral argument Oct. 15, 9 a.m.

Issue: Should a defendant’s refusal to submit to breath tests be admitted at OWI trial?

Hannah Marie Kilby appeals the Polk County District Court’s denial of her pre-trial motion to declare as inadmissible evidence of her refusal to submit to breath tests. The trial court took into account Kilby’s refusal of breath tests in finding her guilty of driving while intoxicated. Kilby argues she had a right under the Iowa Constitution to withhold consent to the breath tests, and she asks the Court to reverse her conviction, remand the case, and direct that the State is prohibited from using her refusal as evidence against her at trial.

State v. Warren

Issue: Is a seizure lawful based on an officer’s observation of a parking violation?

Set for oral argument Oct. 15, 9 a.m.

Jasmaine R. Warren seeks further review of a May 13 decision of a divided eight-member Iowa Court of Appeals panel affirming in part, reversing in part, and remanding her conviction in Polk County District Court of second-offense operating while intoxicated (OWI) and driving with a revoked license. Warren argues on appeal that she was subjected to an unlawful seizure when she was detained by police officers on the basis of a parking violation. The question raised by Warren on further review is a case of first impression for the Iowa Supreme Court: “whether a police officer who has observed a parking violation has occurred can seize an individual for the purpose of investigation.”

State v. Barrett

Issue: What standard should be used when a trial court fails to disclose material information after conducting an in camera review?

Set for argument Oct. 15, 9 a.m.

Patrick Barrett Jr. appeals the Cass County District Court’s denial of his motion for a new trial following a previous appeal from his conviction by a jury of second degree sexual abuse. In the previous appeal in this case, the Court of Appeals found the District Court failed to recognize and disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense and remanded for a determination of whether Barrett was entitled to a new trial. In this appeal, the Supreme Court is asked for guidance “on the standard the District Court should apply when determining whether the defendant is entitled to a new trial after the District Court conducts an in camera review and fails to disclose relevant and material information, pursuant to section 622.10(4).”

State v. Dessinger

Issue: Should oral statements and a nonverbal demonstration have been excluded as inadmissible hearsay?

Set for argument Oct. 15, 1:30 p.m.

Shanna Dessinger seeks further review of a May 13 Court of Appeals ruling affirming her conviction by a Webster County District jury of child endangerment. Dessinger was convicted in part on testimony of a child who offered testimony, both oral and by demonstrating the defendant’s physical treatment of the child. Dessinger argues the District Court erred by excluding only the child’s verbal, not the nonverbal, assertions as inadmissible hearsay evidence.

State v. Casper

Issue: Should defendant have been informed of his right to an independent breath test?

Set for oral argument Oct. 15, 1:30 p.m.

Thomas C. Casper seeks further review of a May 13 Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming his conviction by the Cerro Gordo County District Court of first-offense operating while intoxicated. Casper argues that the Iowa State Patrol trooper was required to inform him of his right to an independent chemical breath test after he had raised the issue. The appeals court ruled that even if the trooper had an obligation to advise Casper of his right to an independent test at his own expense, the failure to do so was harmless error.

State of Iowa ex rel. Gary Dickey v. Jason Besler

Issue: Was appellant wrongly denied the right to challenge the appointment of a District Court judge?

Will be submitted to the Court without oral argument.

Gary Dickey appeals a Polk County District Court ruling denying his application to file a petition for a writ of quo warranto to pursue his argument that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ appointment of defendant Jason Besler to a District Court vacancy was not made within the constitutionally required 30-day period. The District Court held that Besler’s appointment was effective at the time the governor verbally communicated her decision to her chief of staff.

Freer v. DAC

Issue: Did the District Court err in denying plaintiffs’ motion to enforce a settlement agreement?

Will be submitted to the Court without oral argument.

Earl Freer, as successor administrator of the Estate of Nicole J. Sansom, and Michael Sansom individually, appeal the Jackson County District Court’s denial of their motion to enforce a settlement agreement in a wrongful death action brought by plaintiffs against defendant. Plaintiffs urge the Court to reverse the trial court and remand for the purpose of enforcing the parties’ high-low settlement agreement.

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