Justice Mansfield describes appellate process in new podcast

by Rox Laird | October 29, 2020

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield describes how Iowa’s appellate process works in the newest installment of the Judicial Branch’s “In the Balance” podcast posted Tuesday.

Mansfield explains to podcast host Marissa Gaal the difference between retained cases that are heard by the Supreme Court on direct review, cases that are transferred to the Court of Appeals, and cases that are heard on further review of decisions by the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court hears about 110 of the 1,000 to 2,000 appeals filed with the Supreme Court every year, Mansfield said. Most appeals are transferred to the Court of Appeals. Some cases are transferred automatically, he said, such as marriage dissolution, parental termination, Child in Need of Assistance (CINA), and appeals of guilty pleas.

Justice Mansfield describes the screening process for retained appeals and further review applications with considerable detail, and provides strategic considerations for attorneys regarding routing statements and further review applications and resistances to such applications.

Staff attorneys in the Supreme Court clerk’s office review all appeals that come to the Court and prepare a memo for the justices on each case. Monthly, rotating three-justice screening panels of the Court (other than the Chief Justice) review those memos and meet to discuss and vote on which cases to retain and which will be transferred to the Court of Appeals. An appeal is retained if two of three panel members vote to retain the appeal, although for most retained appeals, the justices on the screening panel agree and the vote is unanimous.

The Supreme Court also receives about 500 applications each year for further review of decisions of the Court of Appeals. It grants further review in 10% or less of those applications, Mansfield said. The Court will grant further review if four of seven justices vote to grant further review.

Apart from his work on the Court, Mansfield discusses his 5 a.m. walks with a group of work-out friends, which led to hike up Colorado’s Mount Elbert, and his decision to read the works of Shakespeare at the suggestion of his daughter, an English major in college. His favorite play so far? “Richard II.”


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