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Supreme Court Approves Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure

February 1, 2022

Following three years of extensive study, review, and public comments, revised Iowa Court Rules of Criminal Procedure were approved by the Iowa Supreme Court and will go into effect July 1, 2022. Iowa’s criminal procedures have not undergone a comprehensive revision since 1978.

With the revisions, the rules were streamlined, simplified, and updated to reflect court decisions and legislation while eliminating outdated language. There is approximately a 20 percent reduction in the word count.  The supreme court also approved new and updated court forms. The full text of the final revised rules and forms is available here.

In 2018, the supreme court created a comprehensive task force of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and law professors from around the state to review the rules and make recommendations for amendments and updates, as well as proposed new rules. The full task force, chaired by Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield, met ten times to discuss rule revisions and review subcommittee reports on topics such as discovery, grand juries, immunity, pleas and plea bargaining, social media, sentencing, and trial on the minutes.

Following the supreme court’s review of proposed changes in February 2020, the proposed rules were put out for more than 100 days for public comment. Twenty-four public comments, collectively totaling more than two hundred pages, were submitted from a variety of individuals and organizations for the supreme court to review. The public comments are available here. The full task force reviewed the submitted comments and propose revisions based on the feedback received. An explanation and summary of significant changes in response to the public comments is available here.

The task force also reviewed judicial branch policies and practices implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, feedback from district judges regarding the practices, and recommendations provided by the supreme court’s Lessons Learned Task Force. For example, the task force recommended proposed rule revisions to allow defense counsel to waive certain proceedings— such as the initial appearance, preliminary hearing, and arraignment—and certain rights—such as the 90-day speedy trial right—on behalf of the defendant with the defendant’s consent. The task force also proposed rule revisions allowing defendants to appear by interactive audiovisual system for certain proceedings and upon meeting certain conditions. And, the task force recommended expanded use of written guilty pleas from misdemeanors to include nonforcible class “D” felonies.  

The revised rules will take effect on July 1, 2022, subject to Legislative Council review as provided by Iowa Code section 602.4202. This includes criminal cases filed after that date and criminal cases already pending on that date. However, judicial districts or individual district judges may, in the exercise of their discretion, exempt any case that was pending before July 1, 2022, from one or more of the revised rules.

A summary of the revisions can be found here. All of the supporting documents are on the Iowa Judicial Branch website supreme court orders page at

The task force members were:

  • Honorable Edward Mansfield, Justice, Iowa Supreme Court, Des Moines, Chair
  • Honorable Thomas  Bitter, District Court Judge, Dubuque
  • Angela Campbell, Criminal Defense Attorney, Des Moines
  • Mary Conroy, Assistant  Appellate Defender, Ames
  • Honorable Meghan Corbin, then Criminal Defense Attorney and Magistrate, now District Judge, Davenport
  • David Denison, Staff Attorney, Iowa Supreme Court
  • Honorable Linda Fangman, District Court Judge, Waterloo
  • Gerald Feuerhelm, Criminal Defense Attorney, Des  Moines 
  • Honorable Myron Gookin, District Court Judge, Fairfield
  • Aaron Hawbaker, State Public Defender’s Office, Waterloo
  • Professor Emily Hughes, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City
  • Jaki Livingston, Assistant Polk County Attorney, Des Moines
  • Professor David McCord, Drake University Law School, Des Moines
  • Alan Ostergren,  then  Muscatine County Attorney, Muscatine, now Attorney, Des Moines
  • Honorable David Porter, District Court Judge, Des Moines
  • Darin Raymond, Plymouth County Attorney, LeMars
  • Aaron Rogers, Assistant Attorney General, Des Moines
  • Honorable DeDra Schroeder, District Court Judge, Osage
  • Alfred Willett, Criminal Defense Attorney, Cedar Rapids

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