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Most Recent Court of Appeals Summaries

For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here

Opinion Summaries

Case No. 21-1893:  State of Iowa v. Thon Robin Bol

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 21-1893

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott J. Beattie, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Tabor and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, J.  (17 pages)

            A defendant appeals his convictions for attempted murder, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, and willful injury causing serious injury.  He contests the weight of the evidence supporting his convictions.  He also renews his hearsay objections to the admission of his phone conversation with his sister and the recorded statements of the severed defendants.  In another evidentiary challenge, he urges that the district court abused its discretion in allowing expert testimony from a police detective.  Lastly, he argues the court abused its discretion in failing to remove a crying juror.  OPINION HOLDS: After a careful review of the defendant’s claims, we find no grounds to grant a new trial and affirm.

Case No. 22-0499:  Atiba A. Spellman v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-0499

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Amy M. Moore, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (8 pages)

            Atiba Spellman appeals the grant of summary judgment and dismissal of his application for postconviction relief (PCR).  Spellman contends the court should not have granted the State’s motion for summary judgment and dismiss his application for PCR and his PCR counsel was ineffective for failing to “timely depose trial counsel.”  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our review, we affirm.

Case No. 22-0908:  State of Iowa v. Arnold Ray Toomer

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-0908

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Kevin McKeever, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Greer, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (4 pages)

            A defendant appeals the sentence imposed following his conviction for failure to register as a sex offender, second or subsequent offense.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the sentence imposed by the district court was the product of the parties’ agreement, the court did not need to provide additional reasons for the sentence.  We affirm.

Case No. 22-1448:  State of Iowa v. Chad Alan Stechcon

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1448

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Ian K. Thornhill, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Buller, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, S.J.  (11 pages)

            Stechcon appeals his convictions of willful injury causing bodily injury and false imprisonment, arguing (1) the district court should have granted his motion for mistrial after one of the State’s witnesses violated the court’s ruling on the motion in limine prohibiting witnesses from referencing that Stechcon had been in legal trouble before and “would spend seventeen more years locked up” and (2) the court erred in giving a jury instruction on general intent because it was not applicable to any of the charged offenses.  OPINION HOLDS: The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for mistrial and any alleged error in providing the general-intent instruction was harmless.  We affirm.

Case No. 22-1593:  State of Iowa v. Tommy Gene Collins

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1593

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Christopher C. Polking, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (8 pages)

            Tommy Gene Collins appeals his convictions for sexual abuse in the second degree, sexual abuse in the third degree, and continuous sexual abuse of a child, arguing the district court improperly excluded evidence that he offered to be interviewed by law enforcement and that the district court should have required the State to provide specifics of the alleged acts supporting each charge.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded evidence that Collins offered to be interviewed by law enforcement, Collins did not present an issue for our review regarding his request for specificity, and Collins received a fair trial, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1734:  State of Iowa v. Tommy Quinn Jr.

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1734

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (7 pages)

            Tommy Quinn Jr. appeals his conviction of assault causing bodily injury, alleging his waiver of counsel was not knowing and intelligent as required under the Sixth Amendment.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the court engaged in a meaningful colloquy with Quinn regarding his desire to waive counsel, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1847:  In re The Marriage of Fichter

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1847

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, James S. Heckerman, Judge.  AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED ON APPEAL; AFFIRMED ON CROSS-APPEAL.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J.  (14 pages)

            Clinton Fichter appeals the economic provisions of the parties’ dissolution decree and Monica Fichter cross-appeals on the issue of spousal support.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the decree on the issues of property division, child support, and spousal support.  We eliminate the requirement on future modifications by Clinton concerning his income.  And we deny Monica’s request for appellate attorney fees.  Accordingly, we affirm the appeal as modified and affirm on the cross-appeal.

Case No. 22-1864:  State of Iowa v. John Michael Harker

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1864

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Kimberly K. Shepherd, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (8 pages)

            The defendant challenges the admission of prior-bad-acts evidence in his trial for domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding no abuse of discretion in the district court’s admission of the prior-bad-acts evidence, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1997:  Heather Lorraine Swanson v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1997

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Bethany Currie, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (7 pages)

            Heather Swanson appeals the district court’s denial of her application for postconviction relief, claiming her trial counsel was ineffective by failing to move for dismissal based on a speedy-indictment violation and by failing to pursue a claim of law enforcement bias.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our review, we affirm.

Case No. 22-2029:  State of Iowa v. Caimere Dupree Gates

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2029

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Danilson, S.J.  Opinion by Schumacher, P.J. (6 pages)

            Defendant appeals his conviction for first-degree murder, arguing the State failed to present sufficient evidence to show that he acted with malice aforethought.  OPINION HOLDS: Because there was substantial evidence presented for a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant acted with malice aforethought, we affirm.

Case No. 22-2056:  State of Iowa v. Raven Ann Marie Taylor

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2056

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, William P. Kelly, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Schumacher and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J. (5 pages)

            A defendant appeals her sentence following her guilty plea.  She claims the district court abused its discretion by failing to adequately consider mitigating sentencing factors.  OPINION HOLDS: A review of the record reveals that the district court did consider the mitigating factors highlighted by the defendant.  The district court thoroughly and thoughtfully considered and weighed relevant factors to arrive at a reasonable sentencing decision and did not abuse its discretion when doing so.

Case No. 23-0130:  Troy Andrew Williams v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0130

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark Fowler, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Chicchelly, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Buller, J., takes no part.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (4 pages)

            Troy Williams appeals the order granting summary dismissal of his second application for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Williams’s first PCR application on the merits, Williams is precluded from relitigating those claims here.  His PCR counsel was not ineffective by failing to raise a meritless claim.  We therefore affirm.

Case No. 23-0157:  Keith Rath and Dennis Faltis v. Arch Insurance Company

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0157

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, David M. Cox, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Schumacher, P.J., Langholz, J., and Doyle, S.J.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  Dissent by Schumacher, P.J.  (28 pages)

            Keith Rath and Dennis Faltis appeal the district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing their breach-of-contract and related claims because it concluded that they are not intended third-party beneficiaries of a force-placed insurance policy issued by Arch Insurance Company to their bank.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the insurance policy includes an endorsement increasing the coverage above the bank’s interest and giving plaintiffs a right to payment as a loss payee, the policy manifests an intent to benefit plaintiffs.  They are thus third-party beneficiaries under the insurance contract, and the district court erred in dismissing their claims.  DISSENT ASSERTS: The force-placed insurance policy does not name the borrower as an additional insured, expressly delineate that the policy covers the borrower’s interest in the insured property, or otherwise state that the borrower is a beneficiary of the lender’s coverage, including as that of a third-party beneficiary.  Rather the policy states no coverage, directly or indirectly, is provided to the borrower.  On this basis, the trial court properly granted summary judgment, which we should affirm.  As we do not, I respectfully dissent.

Case No. 23-0289:  Elisha Stokes v. Mario Murillo

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0289

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (10 pages)

            Elisha Stokes appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing a gross-negligence claim against his coworker, Mario Murillo.  OPINION HOLDS:  Stokes’s claim that Murillo’s operation of the rebar-cutting machine with the safety mechanism disabled fails because Stokes has shown no evidence from which a jury could find that Murillo knew that injury was probable rather than just possible from that operation.  Stokes failed to preserve error on his other argument of gross negligence because it was not raised in, or decided by, the district court.

Case No. 23-0297:  State of Iowa v. David Edward Myers

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0297

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Jennifer S. Bailey, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (4 pages)

            David Myers challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for domestic abuse assault causing injury.  OPINION HOLDS: To the extent Myers intends to raise evidentiary challenges, he has not sufficiently developed the arguments and failed to preserve them for our review.  Myers’s conviction is supported by substantial evidence.

Case No. 23-0302:  Gregory C. Thompson v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0302

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Sarah Crane, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Tabor, J., takes no part.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (5 pages)

            An applicant appeals the denial of his third application for postconviction relief, asserting ineffective assistance in trial counsel’s handling of the victim’s mental-health records.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find trial counsel was not ineffective, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

Case No. 23-0431:  Michael Duane Smith v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0431

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Stuart P. Werling, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (8 pages)

            Michael Smith appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief.  He asserts plea counsel provided ineffective assistance in two ways.  First, he claims that counsel ignored his directive to withdraw the guilty pleas unless the sentencing court agreed to run all his sentences concurrently.  Second, he argues that no factual basis existed for his plea to interference with official acts while displaying a dangerous weapon.  OPINION HOLDS: Plea counsel’s account, which the postconviction court found credible, was that Smith did not request to withdraw his pleas.  We decline to disturb that finding.  And we find the facts support the crime and form a factual basis for Smith’s plea of guilty.  Finding counsel did not fail in any professional duty, we do not address prejudice and affirm the denial of relief. 

Case No. 23-0502:  Deonte Dwight Williams v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0502

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Paul D. Scott, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (3 pages)

            Deonte Williams appeals the order granting summary dismissal of his application for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the face of Williams’s application shows it was untimely, the court did not err in granting summary dismissal.  Because Williams did not challenge and the postconviction court did not rule on the constitutionality of Iowa Code section 822.3 (2022), error is not preserved and we do not address the claim on appeal.

Case No. 23-0515:  State of Iowa v. Trenton Robert Brekke

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0515

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Amy M. Moore, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (7 pages)

            Trenton Brekke appeals his sentences and the modification of appeal bail conditions following entry of his Alford plea to multiple offences.  OPINION HOLDS: The district court did not abuse its discretion when sentencing Brekke, and Brekke’s challenge to the appeal bail conditions is not properly before us because Brekke failed to file a notice of appeal from the order modifying the bail terms.

Case No. 23-0519:  Otero v. State

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0519

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Andrew Chappell, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (5 pages)

            A plaintiff appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant in a professional negligence case.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the district court correctly applied the law, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0533:  Charles Sila Curry v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0533

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Amy M. Moore, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (7 pages)

            An applicant appeals the denial of postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the applicant has not proven counsel breached an essential duty or the reasonable probability of acquittal on his claims, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0596:  Chad Ruby v. Justina Sheehan

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0596

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Angela L. Doyle, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Buller and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (17 pages)

            Chad Ruby appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing his premises-liability and negligence-per-se claims and its denial of his cross-motion for partial summary judgment on his negligence-per-se claim—all brought against Justina Sheehan, the host of a party where Ruby was stabbed by another guest.  OPINION HOLDS: On the premises-liability claim, Sheehan—as a possessor of a private residence and social host—had no duty to prevent another guest from stabbing Ruby during the party.  And Ruby’s negligence-per-se claim fails because the city ordinance is not specific enough to establish a negligence-per-se standard.  We thus affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Sheehan and its denial of Ruby’s cross-motion.

Case No. 23-0646:  State of Iowa v. Diontay Marcus Cobbs

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0646

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David P. Odekirk, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J. (7 pages)

            Diontay Cobbs appeals following his convictions for first-degree robbery and using a juvenile to commit an indictable offense.  Cobbs challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for using a juvenile to commit an indictable offense and claims the district court abused its discretion by sentencing him to a seventy-percent mandatory minimum and consecutive sentences.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our review, we affirm. 

Case No. 23-0690:  State of Iowa v. Chad Chapline

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0690

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Chris Foy, Judge.  SENTENCE VACATED AND REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J. (7 pages)

            A juvenile criminal defendant appeals his mandatory-minimum sentence for second-degree sexual abuse.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find the district court failed to consider one of the constitutionally required juvenile-sentencing factors, we vacate the sentence and remand with directions to re-sentence and apply the required factors.

Case No. 23-0766:  State of Iowa v. Kang Chuol Chotkuac

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0766

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van Marel, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J. (5 pages).

            Kang Chotkuac appeals his conviction for extortion, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the conviction.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our review, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0788:  State of Iowa v. Valon Jackson Jr.

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0788

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Tod Deck, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J. (7 pages)

            Valon Jackson Jr. appeals the restitution order and sentences entered after his convictions, contending the State did not meet its burden in establishing the restitution amount and that the district court abused its discretion in sentencing by failing to consider certain mitigating factors.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find that substantial evidence supports the restitution award and the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0810:  State of Iowa v. Jon Michael Martinac Jr.

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0810

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Steven J. Andreasen, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (5 pages)

            A defendant challenges his conviction for delivery of methamphetamine.  OPINION HOLDS: Viewing the record in the light most favorable to the verdict, we find substantial evidence that Martinac delivered methamphetamine.  Thus, we affirm the judgment and conviction.

Case No. 23-0811:  State of Iowa v. Jon Michael Martinac Jr.

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0811

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Daniel P. Vakulskas, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (6 pages)

            A defendant challenges his conviction for driving while barred.  OPINION HOLDS: Viewing the record in the light most favorable to the verdict, we find substantial evidence that Martinac’s license was barred while he was driving.  Thus, we affirm the judgment and conviction.

Case No. 23-0847:  Johnson v. Dennis

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0847

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Fae Hoover, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., and Ahlers and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, P.J.  (8 pages)

            A trustee appeals the district court decision ordering distribution of trust funds to a deceased beneficiary’s issue.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find the plain and unambiguous language of the trust requires distribution to the deceased beneficiary’s issue, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0850:  In re the Marriage of Jennings

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0850

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Bethany Currie, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., and Ahlers and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (6 pages)

            Wayne Jennings appeals from an order granting Christina Jennings’s petition to modify the physical-care provisions of their dissolution decree and changing the placement of one of their children from joint physical care to Christina’s physical care.  He argues that the district court improperly limited the evidence he could present.  OPINION HOLDS: Because error is not preserved on Wayne’s evidentiary challenge and he raises no other issue, we affirm the district court.  And given the financial circumstances of the parties and the relative merits of the appeal, we award Christina Jennings appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 23-0941:  State of Iowa v. Amber Diane Movick

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0941

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Karen Kaufman Salic, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Vogel, S.J.  (9 pages)

            Amber Movick appeals the sentence imposed upon her conviction for possession of methamphetamine, third offense.  She argues (1) the State breached the plea agreement by failing to endorse the agreed-upon sentencing recommendation, and (2) the district court erred by not ordering an updated presentence investigation report (PSI) or ensuring she waived her right to its use in sentencing.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm, concluding the prosecutor did not breach the plea agreement and Movick failed to preserve error on her claims about the PSI. 

Case No. 23-1173:  In the Interest of P.A., D.A., A.A., and C.A., Minor Children

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1173

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mitchell County, Karen Kaufman Salic, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (6 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of parental rights to his four children, asking us to reverse the termination based on alleged constitutional violations and a lack of reasonable efforts.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the father’s constitutional rights were not violated and his remaining issues are waived, we affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights.

Case No. 23-1300:  State of Iowa v. Anthony George Garner, Jr.

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1300

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van Marel, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J. (4 pages)

            Anthony Garner Jr. appeals his sentences after pleading guilty to three criminal charges.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the court exercised its discretion by imposing concurrent sentences of incarceration, we affirm.

Case No. 23-1314:  Rehnea A. Bartholomew v. Jason R. Stanbrough

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1314

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Margaret Reyes, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (5pages)

            A father petitioned to modify the physical-care schedule for his shared child with the mother.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find the father failed to prove a substantial change in circumstances to warrant a change in physical care, we affirm the denial of his petition to modify.

Case No. 23-1336:  In the Matter of R.B., Alleged to Be Seriously Mentally Impaired

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1336

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Bethany Currie, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Ahlers, P.J., Buller, J., and Gamble, S.J.  Opinion by Gamble, S.J.  (8 pages)

            R.B. appeals a district court order, challenging whether he continues to be seriously mentally impaired and his current placement as the least-restrictive placement.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm.

Case No. 23-1492:  In re Marriage of Miller

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1492

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott J. Beattie, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., and Ahlers and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, P.J.  (9 pages)

            Cassidy Miller appeals the district court decision placing the parties’ minor child in Christian Miller’s physical care.  OPINION HOLDS: We find it is in the child’s best interest to be placed in Christian’s physical care.  We find the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Cassidy’s request for trial attorney fees.  We affirm the district court.  Each party shall be responsible for their own appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 23-1552:  In the Interest of C.F., C.D., and N.H., Minor Children

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1552

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda Belcher, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (9 pages)

            A mother appeals a dispositional order denying modification of placement in a child-welfare case.  She argues that the juvenile court should have placed her children with their maternal grandmother instead of fictive kin.  OPINION HOLDS: We find that the juvenile court erred in considering the current placement a relative under Iowa Code section 232.2(56) (2023).  But because disrupting the children’s placement is not in their best interests, we affirm the denial of the motion to modify. 

Case No. 23-1986:  In the Interest of G.B., Minor Child

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1986

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Brent Pattison, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., and Ahlers and Badding, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (6 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: The child could not be safely returned to the mother’s custody at the time of the termination hearing, satisfying a statutory ground for termination.  Termination is in the child’s best interests, and the parent-child bond is not so strong to preclude termination.

Case No. 23-2108:  In the Interest of J.H., Minor Child

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-2108

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, Richelle Mahaffey, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (14 pages)

            A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we summarily affirm on the statutory ground not challenged by the mother and decline to rely on the permissive exception to avoid termination or to order an additional six months of time, we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.  Because we find that the State proved that J.H. could not be safely returned to the father’s custody at the time of the termination hearing, we also affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights.

Case No. 24-0026:  In the Interest of H.G., Minor Child

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0026

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marion County, Steven Guiter, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (8 pages)

            A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their respective parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: The State established statutory grounds authorizing termination.  Termination is in the child’s best interests.  We decline to apply any permissive exception and establish a guardianship. 

Case No. 24-0032:  In the Interest of Z.T., Minor Child

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0032

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F. Staudt, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (8 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, arguing for a permissive exception and that a guardianship should be established.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find no permissive exception should be applied to prevent termination and guardianship is not in the best interests of the child, we affirm termination of the mother’s parental rights.

Case No. 24-0073:  In the Interest of C.B. and L.H., Minor Children

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0073

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Kimberly K. Shepherd, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Blane, S.J.  Opinion by Schumacher, P.J.  (11 pages)

            A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the State has proven grounds by clear and convincing evidence for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (h) (2023), termination is in the best interest of the children, a permissive exception should not be applied to preclude termination, and an extension of time for reunification efforts is unwarranted, we affirm.

Case No. 24-0092:  In the Interest of M.A. and M.A., Minor Children

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0092

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Fayette County, Linnea M.N. Nicol, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (11 pages)

            In this child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding, the mother appeals the juvenile court’s dispositional review order and finding of reasonable efforts.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our review, we affirm.

Case No. 24-0186:  In the Interest of E.W., E.W., and C.M., Minor Children

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0186

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Paul G. Crawford, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Schumacher, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Vogel, S.J.  (5 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to three children, claiming she should have been granted additional time to work toward reunification.  OPINION HOLDS: Because additional time is not warranted, we affirm.

Case No. 24-0211:  In the Interest of D.W., Minor Child

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0211

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Cynthia S. Finley, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Danilson, S.J.  Opinion by Danilson, S.J.  (9 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.  She challenges the statutory grounds authorizing termination, claims termination is not in the child’s best interests, and argues the court should apply a permissive exception to forgo termination.  The mother also claims she received ineffective assistance from her counsel that should entitle her to relief.  OPINION HOLDS: The State established statutory grounds authorizing termination.  Termination is in the child’s best interests, and we decline to apply a permissive exception to termination.  The mother’s counsel did not provide ineffective assistance.

Case No. 24-0319:  In the Interest of L.A., Minor Child

Filed Apr 10, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0319

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clarke County, Monty Franklin, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., Chicchelly, J., and Doyle, S.J.  Opinion by Doyle, S.J.  (5 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the State proved the grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h), and the exception under section 232.116(3)(a) does not apply, and the mother failed to prove section (c) (2023) applies, we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.

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