Opinions in two cases expected from Iowa Supreme Court Friday

by Rox Laird | February 25, 2021

The Iowa Supreme Court is expected to release opinions in two cases Friday, February 26, 2021. Below 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 the appeals.


Clark v. State (previous On Brief summary here)

Submitted to the Court Dec. 16, 2020, without oral argument.

Question: Does a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel apply in a legal malpractice action?

The State appeals a Johnson County District Court ruling granting David Clark’s motion for partial summary judgment on his claim that an assistant State Public Defender was guilty of legal malpractice in failing to properly represent him in a criminal prosecution for child abuse. The State argues the trial court incorrectly concluded that an ineffective-assistance of counsel finding in Clark’s post-conviction relief action satisfies the element of breach of duty in his legal malpractice claim against the public defender.


Earley v. Board of Adjustment, Cerro Gordo County (previous On Brief summary here)

Oral argument heard Jan. 20, 2021

Issue: Is there a “lesser standard” for granting zoning variances when the issue is area rather than use?

Mary Sue Earley and Bankers Trust Co., as trustees of the Mary Sue Earley Revocable Trust, seek further review of a July 22, 2020 Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming a decision of the Cerro Gordo County District Court affirming a zoning variance granted by the Cerro Gordo County Zoning Board of Adjustment. The variance was granted to Earley’s next-door neighbor who built a patio cover within 12 inches of the dividing line between the two properties in violation of the zoning setback requirements. Earley argues the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the District Court because the neighboring property owner failed to meet the test long applied by the Iowa Supreme Court for zoning variances, and that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that there is a “lesser” standard for granting zoning area variances (such as height and setback restrictions) than for use variances.



February 2024 Opinion Roundup

The Iowa Supreme Court entered opinions in eighteen cases during February 2024. You can read Rox Laird’s analysis of Singh v. McDermott, Selden v. DMACC, and Senator Roby Smith et al. v. Iowa District Court for Polk County. The remaining opinions from February are summarized here.


  • Iowa Supreme Court Oral Arguments
  • Iowa Supreme Court Opinion and/or Further Review Conference
  • Iowa Court of Appeals Oral Arguments
  • Holidays



On Brief: Iowa’s Appellate Blog is devoted to appellate litigation with a focus on the Iowa Supreme Court, the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.


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