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  • Iowa DNR Clears Officers of Wrongdoing in September Court Avenue Arrest

    Source: --- Thursday, October 10, 2019
    DES MOINES, Iowa ? The Iowa DNR says two of its officers didn?t violate any agency policies when they arrested two women on Court Avenue in September. The two officers were in uniform near Court Avenue on the evening of September 19th when they intervened in a fight between two women, Latisha Johnson and Kathryn Kesler. Cellphone video of the scene recorded by a bystander shows one of the officers, Travis Graves, delivered two elbow blows to Johnson?s head. He then pepper-sprayed Johnson. The two officers were placed on administrative leave by the DNR after the incident. On Thursday the DNR announced an internal investigation into the officers? action cleared both of wrongdoing. The Iowa DNR has concluded an internal investigation into the incident on September 20th involving two DNR Conservation Officers, determining no violation of current DNR policies. Due to concerns raised during the investigation, the Iowa DNR plans to review our policies to ensure they fully reflect the expectations of conservation officers. The two officers, Travis Graves and Derrick Slutts, were in Des Moines September 19-20 attending a training and when they were performing job related duties, they drove upon an ongoing fight between two women on Court Avenue. The officers intervened and broke up the fight. Both women were arrested and charged. DNR Conservation Officers are sworn state peace officers in the State of Iowa. Both Johnson and Kesler were c ...

  • Iowa Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment Ruling Against Claimant in Bad Faith Claim

    Source: --- Wednesday, October 09, 2019
    In Saltern v. HNI Corporation and Gallagher Bassett Services , No. 18-1748 (Iowa App. Oct. 9, 2019), the Court of Appeals affirmed a district Court ruling dismissing a bad faith claim brought by plaintiff Saltern.  The ruling was premised on the Court's conclusion that the employer did not lack a reasonable basis for denying benefits and thus the first prong of the bad faith test was not met. Claimant had prevailed in her workers' compensation claim on her claim for injury due to carpal tunnel syndrome.  Penalty was awarded based on the fact that HNI had not communicated its basis for rejecting the claim under section 86.13 of the Code.  Following the resolution of the workers' compensation claim, Saltern brought a bad faith action.  The district Court concluded on summary judgment that at the time that HNI first denied the claim, there was no information to indicate that her carpal tunnel was related to employment. Specifically, no doctor had concluded that the injury was work-related.   On appeal, claimant argued that because the employer knew the nature of her work and because the employer had not communicated the basis of its denial, bad faith was appropriate. The Court concluded that because claimant had not met her burden of demonstrating that the injury arose in the course of employment at that juncture, the claim was fairly debatable and bad faith was inappropriate.  The fact that the employer knew the repetitive nature ...

  • Legal status of Grant Wood paintings at stake in case to be argued before Iowa Supreme Court Oct. 11 in Iowa City

    Source: --- Wednesday, October 09, 2019
    The Iowa Supreme Court, sitting at the University of Iowa College of Law Oct. 11, will hear arguments in an appeal that could determine the fate of seven Grant Wood paintings that have been displayed in Coe College?s library for 62 years. The argument is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Levitt Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. [Go to On Brief?s Cases in the Pipeline page to read the briefs in the case, In the Matter of the Application of Coe College for Interpretation of Purported Gift Restriction . ] Coe College filed a petition for declaratory judgment in Linn County District Court seeking to reclassify the Wood paintings from restricted assets to unrestricted assets, which would increase the value of the paintings by $1.95 million in Coe?s endowment fund. The District Court, however, ruled that the terms of the original gift prohibit the college from ?selling, transferring, or otherwise alienating the paintings.? Coe appealed and urges the Supreme Court to reverse the lower Court. The Grant Wood paintings, which were originally part of a mural in a Cedar Rapids hotel coffee shop, were initially loaned to Coe College in 1957 by the hotel?s owner, Eugene C. Eppley through Eppley?s charitable foundation. Two decades later, when the foundation was being dissolved, the paintings were made a permanent gift to the college. At that time, the paintings were classified as unrestricted assets, meaning the college had the optio ...

  • Is Iowa?s secretary of state fully complying with court ruling on voter law?

    Source: --- Wednesday, October 02, 2019
    The State of Iowa has revised the official absentee ballot request form in light of a Court ruling that invalidated some sections of Iowa election law. However, the new form still lists a voter ID number as a required field, despite a Court order permanently enjoining Secretary of State Paul Pate from ?indicating that such information is ?required.?? The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and Iowa State University student Taylor Blair had challenged several provisions of House File 516 , the wide-ranging election law Republicans enacted in 2017. Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin upheld the part of the law that requires voter ID in a decision published on October 1 (enclosed in full below). He ruled several other sections of House File 516 unconstitutional. The law prohibited county auditors from sending a voter ID to Iowans who already have identification issued by the Department of Transportation. But the Court found, ?It is not rational to believe that a voter who is no longer in possession of his or her driver?s license or nonoperator?s identification card does not have the same need for a free Voter ID Card as someone who didn?t have a driver?s license or nonoperator?s identification card in the first place.? The law allowed county auditors to dispute an absentee ballot request form or reject an absentee ballot if the signature on either the form or the affidavit envelope accompanying the ballot a ...

  • Iowa Supreme Court Considers Speed Camera Secrecy

    Source: --- Tuesday, October 01, 2019
    A former police sergeant wants data from the speed camera ticketing database in Ottumwa, Iowa. Last month, the state Supreme Court heard arguments about whether the city can continue withholding information generated by the automated ticketing machines from Mark Leonard Milligan and from the public. "Just because the government uses that information doesn't necessarily make that information a public record," city attorney David E. Schrock told the Court. "The person requesting the record has to have an authorized use as well." Schrock insisted that the source of the information made it protected from disclosure. Justice Christopher McDonald pointed out that automated ticket recipients under the city ordinance can request to receive a regular municipal infraction instead of the civil citation that is mailed by the automated ticketing machine. The municipal infraction records become public as soon as they are entered into the Court system. "The source of the infraction is the same," Justice McDonald asked. "So why is one discoverable and one not?" The city attorney repeated that the source of the information makes the situations different. "The only way we got the names of those violators was through the NLETS database, which is the Iowa system where you have the driver's license records," Schrock explained. "With that, this is different from a police officer going out and issuing a traffic citation to a member of the public becau ...

Scott Strait