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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. 18-0179:  State of Iowa v. Robert Arthur Reynolds

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-0179

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Susan Larson Christensen, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J. (11 pages)

            Robert Reynolds appeals his conviction for second-degree murder, alleging that (1) the district court lacked authority to hear the case because the trial information was filed in West Pottawattamie County rather than East Pottawattamie County; (2) the district court violated his due process rights by disallowing an insanity defense; and (3) the district court’s finding of guilt was not supported by sufficient evidence and was contrary to the weight of the evidence.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm.

Case No. 18-1476:  Lloyd Raymond Haywood v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1476

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A. Bitter, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Mullins, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (9 pages)

            Lloyd Haywood appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR).  OPINION HOLDS: We find Haywood failed to carry his burden to prove either first or second trial counsel provided Haywood with ineffective assistance.  We preserve the claim of ineffective assistance toward PCR counsel for a possible future PCR claim.  Finally, we find Haywood failed to meet his burden to prove his actual-innocence claim.

Case No. 18-1758:  State of Iowa v. Kurtis Michael Green

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1758

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Stephen A. Owen, District Associate Judge.  CONVICTION AFFIRMED; SENTENCE VACATED IN PART AND REMANDED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J. (10 pages)          

            Kurtis Green appeals his conviction of domestic abuse assault by strangulation causing bodily injury and part of the sentence imposed.  He argues his counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to adequately challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction.  He also argues his counsel was ineffective in failing to object to certain evidence as in violation of his right to confrontation.  Finally, he argues the court erred in ordering him to pay court costs as restitution.  OPINION HOLDS: We find Green’s conviction is supported by substantial evidence and counsel was therefore not ineffective in failing to properly challenge the sufficiency of the evidence.  We preserve for postconviction relief Green’s claim counsel was ineffective in failing to object to certain evidence as in violation of his right to confrontation.  We thus affirm Green’s conviction.  However, we find the district court did not follow the proper procedures for the ordering of restitution.  We therefore vacate the challenged sentencing provision and remand the matter to the district court for completion of a restitution plan and a determination of Green’s reasonable ability to pay. 

Case No. 18-1822:  State of Iowa v. Edwin J. Goodwin, Jr.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1822

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Joel W. Barrows, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J. (18 pages)

            A jury convicted Edwin Goodwin Jr. of five counts of robbery in the second degree and one count of ongoing criminal conduct through specified unlawful activity.  On appeal, Goodwin maintains the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of text messages over Goodwin’s authentication and relevancy objections.  He further contends the evidence at trial failed to support the “continuing basis” element of his conviction for ongoing criminal conduct and that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to evidence Goodwin fled from the police when they tried to apprehend him.  OPINION HOLDS: The court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of text messages over Goodwin’s authentication and relevancy objections, and Goodwin’s ineffective-assistance claim fails because he cannot establish prejudice.  That said, because insufficient evidence supports the “continuing basis” of Goodwin’s ongoing-criminal-conduct conviction, we vacate that conviction and sentence.  We remand this matter for entry of dismissal with prejudice of the charge.

Case No. 18-1835:  Surgery Center of Cedar Rapids v. Iowa Department of Public Health

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1835

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Paul D. Scott, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, J.  (18 pages)

            Surgery Center of Cedar Rapids and intervenor UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids appeal from the district court’s ruling on judicial review affirming the Iowa Department of Health’s decision to issue a certificate of need to Fox Eye Surgery, LLC (Fox Eye).  OPINION HOLDS: Like the district court, we affirm the department’s approval of Fox Eye’s application for a certificate of need.

Case No. 18-1863:  State of Iowa v. Kole Alexander Higgins

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1863

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Greene County, Joseph B. McCarville, District Associate Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (14 pages)

            Kole Higgins challenges his five drug-related convictions.  He claims the district court should have suppressed evidence found at his home during the execution of a search warrant not supported by probable cause.  OPINION HOLDS: The search warrant application offered no observations, direct or indirect, showing Higgins kept drugs in his home.  Without that nexus, the issuing magistrate did not have a substantial basis to find probable cause for the warrant. 

Case No. 18-1874:  State of Iowa v. LC DeWayne Johnson Jr.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1874

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Linda M. Fangman, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (8 pages)

            LC Dewayne Johnson Jr. appeals his conviction for possession of a controlled substance, third offense, claiming his right to a trial within ninety days of the trial information was violated.  OPINION HOLDS: We conclude there was no speedy-trial violation under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33(2)(b).  We affirm the district court’s ruling denying Johnson’s motion to dismiss, and we affirm Johnson’s judgment and sentence.

Case No. 18-1897:  State of Iowa v. Monica Marie Sandoval

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1897

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, James D. Birkenholz, District Associate Judge.  PROBATION REVOCATION REVERSED, SENTENCE VACATED, AND CASE REMANDED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (6 pages)

            Monica Sandoval challenges the imposition of judgment and sentence on her offense of fourth-degree theft, claiming the district court contravened Iowa Code section 908.11 (2017) by imposing a jail sentence for contempt and revoking her deferred judgment based on the same probation violation.  OPINION HOLDS: Because under these circumstances the original probation violation cannot result in both a contempt punishment and revocation of her deferred judgment, we reverse the revocation of Sandoval’s deferred judgment, vacate the imposition of sentence, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Case No. 18-1965:  State of Iowa v. Matthew Douglas Harbour

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1965

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van Marel, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, J.  (7 pages)

            Matthew Harbour accepted a plea agreement in which the State agreed to dismiss the habitual-offender enhancement of his operating while intoxicated (OWI) third offense eight days before the ruling in Noll v. Iowa Dist. Ct. for Muscatine County, 919 N.W.2d 232, 235 (Iowa 2018), was published.  Harbour challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to sever a theft charge.  Harbour also alleges his trial attorney was remiss in not protesting the plea agreement as invalid.  OPINION HOLDS: Because Harbour pleaded guilty in open court, and acknowledged he was doing so knowingly and voluntarily, Harbour waived his right to appeal the adverse ruling on his motion to sever the theft charge.  Next, because we have no record to verify what advice counsel gave to Harbour or that counsel anticipated Noll, we cannot decide Harbour’s ineffective-assistance claim on direct appeal.

Case No. 18-1986:  D'Angelo Marquis Goods v. State of Iowa

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1986

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mills County, Richard H. Davidson, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (12 pages)

            D’Angelo Goods appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR).  Goods claims both his trial counsel and PCR counsel provided ineffective assistance and makes a reasonable-ability-to-pay claim relating to a restitution order.  OPINION HOLDS: We conclude Goods has not established his trial or PCR counsel provided ineffective assistance.  The restitution claim is not properly brought in this appeal.  We affirm.

Case No. 18-1989:  State of Iowa v. Larry Wiggins, Jr.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-1989

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, John Telleen, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (11 pages)

            Larry Wiggins Jr. appeals his conviction of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.  He argues his attorney was ineffective in failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and failing to request a jury instruction concerning accommodation with a special interrogatory concerning quantity.  He also argues the court erred in denying his motion for mistrial during jury selection.  OPINION HOLDS: Having found no abuse of discretion in the court’s denial of Wiggins’s mistrial motion and counsel was not ineffective as alleged, we affirm Wiggins’s conviction.

Case No. 18-2055:  Huffey v. Mail Contractors of America, Inc.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-2055

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Sarah Crane, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (11 pages)

            Marten Huffey sought compensation from his employer for his work-related injuries.  He also raised a claim against the Second Injury Fund.  After the workers’ compensation commissioner decided the matter, both parties appealed the district court’s judicial review order reversing and remanding Huffey’s claim for benefits back to the worker’s compensation commissioner for further determination.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the Second Injury Fund points to no code provisions that require Huffey to present medical documentation of his 1999 injury and a first injury need not result in an industrial disability to constitute a “loss of use,” we conclude the agency wrongly interpreted the law when assessing the requirements for proof of a valid first loss.  Next, whether Huffey satisfied the third element of a second-injury claim remains to be decided by the commissioner.  Last, we believe a remand is necessary for the agency to evaluate the conflicting expert testimony on the sequela issue and decide whether Huffey’s claim that the March 2011 injury caused permanent and total disability because of a left knee sequela injury under Iowa Code 85.34(2) (2018).

Case No. 18-2077:  Triston Randall Estate v. Quentin Ray Ary Estate

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-2077

      Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Lars G. Anderson, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Ahlers, JJ.  Greer, J., takes no part.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (6 pages)

            Parties to a wrongful death lawsuit appeal the order granting a new trial on damages.  OPINION HOLDS: Because there is a reasonable probability that juror misconduct influenced the verdict relating to damages, the trial court acted within its discretion in granting a new trial on that issue.  But there is no basis for finding the award itself was inadequate, so an order for additur is unwarranted. 

Case No. 18-2203:  State of Iowa v. Elmer Scheckel

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-2203

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Fayette County, Richard D. Stochl, Judge.  CONVICTION AFFIRMED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Ahlers, J., and Gamble, S.J.  Opinion by Gamble, S.J.  (6 pages)

            Elmer Scheckel appeals from his Alford plea to third-degree fraudulent practice.  OPINION HOLDS: Counsel was not ineffective for allowing Scheckel to enter a plea because sufficient evidence supported the charge.  We remand for entry of a nunc pro tunc order to correct a scrivener’s error in the judgment entry.

Case No. 19-0043:  In re the Marriage of Sullins

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0043

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David Porter, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Mullins, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (5 pages)

            Ray Sullins appeals the district court’s order granting Donna Sullins’ pre-answer motion to dismiss his petition to vacate a district court order denying his motion for new trial.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm.

Case No. 19-0074:  State of Iowa v. Shawnette Carmale Courts

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0074

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, John C. Nelson, District Associate Judge.  CONVICTION AFFIRMED; SENTENCE VACATED IN PART AND REMANDED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J. (8 pages)

Shawnette Courts appeals her conviction and sentence for operating while intoxicated, second offense, following a bench trial on the stipulated evidence.  Courts maintains the district court abused its discretion in finding there was not good cause to extend the deadline to allow her to file a motion to suppress more than seventy-five days after the deadline and argues the court’s order of restitution violates the procedure outlined in State v. Albright, 925 N.W.2d 144, 162 (Iowa 2019).  OPINION HOLDS: The district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to find good cause for delay some seventy-five days after the deadline for a motion to suppress had passed.  However, we vacate the portion of the sentencing order involving restitution for court costs and correctional fees and remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with Albright

Case No. 19-0337:  State of Iowa v. Jamison Albert Fisher

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0337

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Tabor, J., takes no part.  Opinion by May, J. (5 pages)

            Jamison Fisher appeals his conviction of theft in the first degree.  He argues the evidence was insufficient to prove one of the State’s alternate theories.  OPINION HOLDS: We find the evidence was sufficient.  So we affirm Fisher’s conviction.

Case No. 19-0342:  State of Iowa v. Tommy Dean Sanders, Jr.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0342

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J. Holwerda, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (8 pages)

            A jury found Tommy Dean Sanders, Jr. guilty of third-degree burglary and possession of contraband on or in the grounds of a correctional facility.  Sanders contends (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the findings of guilt and (2) the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the possession-of-contraband charge.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm Sanders’ judgment and sentence for third-degree burglary and possession of contraband on or in the grounds of a correctional facility.

Case No. 19-0445:  State of Iowa v. Clint M. Braun

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0445

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hamilton County, Paul B. Ahlers, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Ahlers, J., takes no part.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (4 pages)

            Clint Braun appeals after pleading guilty to one count of forgery, claiming his counsel was ineffective by failing to object to the prosecutor’s alleged breach of the plea agreement.  OPINION HOLDS: Braun has failed to show his counsel breached an essential duty by failing to object.  The record does not show the prosecutor breached the plea agreement by implying a material reservation, as Braun alleges. 

Case No. 19-0491:  GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0491

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Lars G. Anderson, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  Dissent by Greer, J.  (21 pages)

            GreatAmerica seeks to enforce a “hell or high water” clause against an entity, Natalya Rodionova Medical Care, P.C. (NRMC), which has submitted evidence the signature on the financing contract is a forgery and that it did not accept or ratify the contract.  OPINION HOLDS: Viewing the record in the light most favorable to NRMC, the district court erred in finding GreatAmerica proved ratification as a matter of law.  There are genuine issues of material fact concerning ratification that preclude summary judgment.  DISSENT ASSERTS: Based on the undisputed facts, I believe the district court correctly granted summary judgment against NRMP.  I would affirm the summary judgment ruling and enter judgment accordingly.

Case No. 19-0511:  Rachel Lovan v. Broadlawns Medical Center and Safety National Casualty Corporation (EMC Risk Services, LLC-TPA)

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0511

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.  REVERSED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (6 pages)

            The appellants appeal the judicial-review ruling of the district court.  They argue the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner properly denied Rachel Lovan’s application for alternate medical care and the court erred in reversing that decision.  OPINION HOLDS: We find the record on appeal is insufficient for us to review the agency decision, and we reverse the district court’s ruling.

Case No. 19-0551:  State of Iowa v. Christopher Lee Roby Jr.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0551

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Alan T. Heavens and Kellyann M. Lekar, Judges.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (14 pages)

            Christopher Roby appeals from his convictions and sentences for sexual abuse in the third degree, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and eluding.  Roby argues his counsel was ineffective by failing to challenge his arrest, bail, and guilty pleas.  OPINION HOLDS: We find all of Roby’s arguments without merit and affirm.

Case No. 19-0607:  T.D. v. J.P.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0607

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, James A. McGlynn, Judge.  AFFIRMED. Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (6 pages)

 

            J.P. appeals from the district court decision to impose a civil protective order between himself and T.D. under Iowa Code section 236A.3 (2019).  He contends the evidence at the hearing did not support her petition.  OPINION HOLDS: On our de novo review of the testimony and giving due consideration to the district court’s in-person assessment of the disputed testimony, we affirm the ruling. 

Case No. 19-0622:  State of Iowa v. Desiree K. Trent

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0622

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lee (South) County, John M. Wright, Judge.  SENTENCE AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J. (7 pages)

            Desiree Trent pled guilty to one count of forgery.  She was sentenced to a term of incarceration not to exceed five years and ordered to pay $1569.08 in victim restitution.  On appeal, Trent argues the district court considered an improper factor in deciding her sentence and erred in imposing the amount of victim restitution she owed.  OPINION HOLDS: The court did not abuse its discretion by considering improper factors in imposing Trent’s sentence.  However, the court ordered $1547.91 of victim restitution not causally linked to Trent’s established criminal act; so we vacate the order of victim restitution and remand for the district court to enter an order consistent with this opinion.

Case No. 19-0652:  Troy Kleppe v. Fort Dodge Police Department and City of Fort Dodge, Iowa

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0652

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Adria Kester, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (16 pages)

            Troy Kleppe, a former public employee, appeals the grant of summary judgment to the Fort Dodge Police Department and the City of Fort Dodge (collectively, the “City”) on a wage claim under Iowa Code chapter 91A (2018).  Kleppe claims he is owed overtime pay for work as a police canine handler and trainer.  The district court found Kleppe failed to exhaust the administrative remedies under the public employees’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA).  OPINION HOLDS: On our review, we find no error in the district court’s determination there were no issues of material fact and the City was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Kleppe was obligated to exhaust the administrative procedures offered in the CBA and failed to do so.  We affirm.

Case No. 19-0679:  In re the Marriage of Rife

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0679

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, Nancy L. Whittenburg, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (11 pages)

            Blake Rife appeals the district court’s order overruling his petition for modification of certain provisions of his modified decree of dissolution.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our de novo review of the record, we agree with the district court that Blake failed to prove there was a material change in circumstances to warrant modification of the parties’ previously modified visitation schedule.  We also find the district court’s determination of Blake’s annual gross income was within the range of permissible evidence presented at trial, and we will therefore not disturb it.  We find no abuse in discretion by the district court’s award of trial attorney fees to Jennifer.  Finally, we find Blake should pay to Jennifer a $5000 award of appellate attorney’s fees.  We affirm on all issues.

Case No. 19-0818:  Debra True v. Heritage Care and Rehabilitation and Cannon Cochran Management Services, Inc.

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0818

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hanson, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (10 pages)

            Debra True appeals the workers’ compensation commissioner’s interpretation of an administrative rule and finding she waived her claim to penalty benefits under the workers’ compensation act.  OPINION HOLDS: We find True waived some of her penalty-benefit claims by failing to follow procedures as explained in an administrative rule, and we affirm in part the commissioner’s ruling.  However, because some of the claims may have arisen after the initial hearing and ruling, we reverse and remand for the commissioner to consider her post-hearing penalty-benefit claim.

Case No. 19-0822:  State of Iowa v. Chad Lindsay

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0822

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, Carl J. Petersen, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J. (5 pages)

            Chad Lindsay appeals the restitution order entered after he pled guilty to one count of failure to obtain workers’ compensation liability insurance.  OPINION HOLDS:  Because Lindsay’s criminal act supports a civil claim for recovery, the court properly assessed restitution to compensate the victim for pecuniary damages arising from that criminal act.  Lindsay’s claim that his counsel was ineffective in failing to request a setoff for a workers’ compensation award fails because counsel had no duty to request a setoff for a workers’ compensation award when Lindsay had made no payments on the award.

Case No. 19-0933:  Jamie Lynn Sinn v. Rusty James Duff

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0933

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jefferson County, Myron Gookin, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (5 pages)

            Jamie Sinn and Rusty Duff are the never-married parents of A.D. and L.D.  In a 2014 stipulated decree, the court gave the parents joint legal custody of the children, placed the children in Jamie’s physical care, and gave Rusty reasonable visitation with the children.  Following Rusty’s 2018 petition to modify the decree, the district court modified physical care, placing the children in Rusty’s care.  On appeal, Jamie challenges the district court’s ruling, arguing the modification of physical care is not in A.D.’s and L.D.’s best interests.  Alternatively, she contends she should be awarded more visitation time.  She also requests $2000 in appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court’s modification and decline to award Jamie appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 19-1124:  State of Iowa v. Toby Ryan Richards

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1124

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Joel W. Barrows, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (5 pages)

            Toby Richards appeals the sentences imposed following convictions of domestic abuse assault, third or subsequent offense, and domestic abuse assault by strangulation.  He argues the sentencing court improperly used a previously prepared presentence investigation report (PSI) and alternatively argues his counsel was ineffective in failing to object to use of the PSI.  He also argues the court erred in ordering the sentences imposed run consecutively to sentences resulting from prior domestic-abuse convictions.  OPINION HOLDS: Our review of the record reveals the court did not rely on information in the PSI that did not result in conviction in imposing the sentence.  The court’s colloquy shows the court considered the appropriate factors.  Richards cannot show prejudice, so his ineffective-assistance claim fails.

Case No. 19-1444:  In the Interest of C.S., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1444

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Phillip J. Tabor, District Associate Judge.  REVERSED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Tabor, J., takes no part.  Opinion by May, J.  (4 pages)

            A father appeals the juvenile court’s termination of his parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: We find insufficient evidence to establish grounds for termination.  So we reverse the juvenile court’s order terminating the father’s parental rights.

Case No. 19-1533:  In the Interest of M.C., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1533

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Kimberly Ayotte, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (6 pages)

            A mother, Tiana, appeals the termination of her parental rights to her fourth child, M.C.  She argues the State failed to present clear and convincing evidence to support the statutory basis for terminating her rights.  OPINION HOLDS: Because Tiana refuses to address her substance-abuse issues, is not forthcoming about domestic abuse possibilities, refuses to engage in individual therapy and has not cooperated with DHS workers, we find that Tiana is unwilling to respond to services.  Also, after viewing the record as a whole, we find clear and convincing evidence that more time for rehabilitation would not fix the problems with Tiana’s parenting.

Case No. 19-1595:  In the Interest of C.G., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1595

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda Belcher, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (6 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, born in 2013.  The mother contests termination pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(l) (2019) and argues termination is not in the child’s best interest.  OPINION HOLDS: The statutory grounds for termination are met pursuant to section 232.116(1)(f), which the mother did not contest.  Furthermore, we find termination is in the child’s best interest and no permissive exceptions to termination apply.

Case No. 19-1654:  In the Interest of B.S. and E.C., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1654

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda Belcher, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (8 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her two children, born in 2016 and 2017.  She challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory grounds for termination cited by the juvenile court, argues termination is not in the children’s best interests because of the closeness of the parent-child bond, and maintains she should have been granted additional time to work toward reunification.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights. 

Case No. 19-1655:  In re the Marriage of Pettus

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1655

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for O'Brien County, Don E. Courtney, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by May, J.  (6 pages)

            Kimberlin Pettus appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage.  She claims the district court erred in awarding the parties joint physical care of their children, determining child support, and declining to award her attorney fees.  Kimberlin also seeks appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: A joint physical care arrangement is in the children’s best interests.  The district court’s decision determining child support or declining to award Kimberlin attorney fees was not inequitable.  We decline to award her appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 19-1867:  In the Interest of C.S., N.E., A.A., and N.J., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1867

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Stephanie Forker Parry, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Mullins, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Mahan, S.J.  Opinion by Mahan, S.J.  (6 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to four children, contending the State failed to prove the grounds for termination cited by the juvenile court.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the decision of the juvenile court to terminate the mother’s parental rights.

Case No. 19-2012:  In the Interest of R.H., V.H., and J.H., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2012

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., Greer, J., and Danilson, S.J.  Opinion by Danilson, S.J.  (5 pages)

            A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS:  The mother physically abused the children and she does not have the ability to meet their special needs.  We conclude termination of her parental rights is in the children’s best interests.  Also, there is not clear and convincing evidence to show termination of the mother’s rights would be detrimental to the children based on the closeness of the parent-child relationship.  We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

Case No. 19-2056:  In the Interest of C.M., Z.F., G.F., and S.T., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2056

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County, Linnea M.N. Nicol, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (8 pages)

            A mother in prison for physically abusing one of her four children appeals an order terminating her parental rights to those four children.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding no merit to the claims of error, we affirm the juvenile court.

Case No. 19-2064:  In the Interest of R.C., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2064

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cherokee County, Mary L. Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., May, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, S.J.  Partial Dissent by May, J.  (10 pages)

            Pursuant to a 2017 permanency order, R.C. is placed in the custody of his father and resides in a residential care facility for children with special needs.  R.C.’s mother filed motions requesting paternity testing on R.C. and asking for expanded visitation with him.  The juvenile court concluded neither request was in R.C.’s best interests, denied the mother’s motions, and otherwise affirmed the permanency order on review.  OPINION HOLDS: The juvenile court should have ordered paternity testing, so we reverse and remand on this issue.  We otherwise affirm the juvenile court order on permanency review, including the denial of the mother’s request for expanded visitation.  R.C. remains in the custody of the father.  PARTIAL DISSENT ASSERTS: Because the mother cited no statute in support of her motion for paternity testing, I would not reverse the denial of her motion on statutory grounds.

Case No. 19-2065:  In the Interest of G.D. and O.D., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2065

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

            A father appeals the adjudication of his two children as children in need of assistance (CINA).  He also challenges the denial of his request for visitation.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the CINA adjudications and the court’s denial of the father’s initial motion for visitation.  We find no error in the court’s decision to reconsider the issue of visitation at a subsequent review hearing.

Case No. 19-2066:  In the Interest of R.C., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2066

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Korie Shippee, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Ahlers, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Vogel, S.J.  (4 pages)

            The father of R.C. appeals the termination of his parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the father has had little to no relationship with R.C. and has been incarcerated most of R.C.’s life, we affirm the juvenile court’s order.

Case No. 19-2109:  In the Interest of W.E. and D.J., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2109

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Sioux County, Daniel P. Vakulskas, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED ON MOTHER’S APPEAL; REVERSED AND REMANDED ON FATHER’S APPEAL.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., May, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, S.J.  (10 pages)

            The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children, W.E. and D.J.  The juvenile court terminated both parents’ rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), (e), and (f) (2019).  The father argues his rights were violated because he was not allowed to participate in most of the termination hearing.  Additionally, he claims the juvenile court erred in refusing to admit one of his proposed exhibits, challenges the statutory grounds for termination, and argues termination is not in the children’s best interests.  The mother challenges the statutory grounds for termination, whether termination is in the children’s best interests, and the juvenile court’s refusal to apply a permissive factor to save the parent-child relationship.  Additionally, she argues a six-month extension to achieve reunification is warranted.  OPINION HOLDS: The father’s due process rights were violated when he was not allowed to fully participate in the termination proceedings.  We reverse the termination of the father’s parental rights and remand the case to the juvenile court for additional expedited proceedings in accordance with this opinion.  But we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights, as statutory grounds for termination were met, termination is in the children’s best interests, no permissive factor weighs against termination, and additional time for reunification is not warranted here.

Case No. 19-2139:  In the Interest of J.G., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2139

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Vogel, S.J.  (9 pages)

            The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to J.G.  While only the mother asserts the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for termination, both parents assert termination is not in the child’s best interests and the Iowa Department of Human Services failed to make reasonable efforts for reunification.  The father also requested additional time for reunification.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the termination of the parental rights of both parents.

Case No. 20-0036:  In the Interest of I.J. and M.J., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0036

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Mark Fowler, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Gamble, S.J.  Opinion by Gamble, S.J.  (8 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: The children could not be returned to the father’s care, satisfying the statutory grounds for termination.  Termination is in the children’s best interests, and the bond between the father and children is not strong enough to preclude termination.

Case No. 20-0056:  In the Interest of L.N., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0056

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Eric J. Nelson, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Blane, S.J.  Opinion by Blane, S.J.  (7 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to a one-year-old child.  OPINION HOLDS: The State showed by clear and convincing evidence the statutory grounds for termination where the parent fails to maintain significant and meaningful contact with the child.  We further determine it was in the child’s best interests to terminate the father’s parental rights and move toward a permanent home.  Finally, the father waived any argument the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite him with the child.  We affirm the termination. 

Case No. 20-0083:  In the Interest of E.L., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0083

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, William Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (7 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her minor child, arguing the State failed to prove grounds for termination and termination was not in the child’s best interest.  OPINION HOLDS: On our de novo review, we conclude the State proved grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2019) and that termination was in the child’s best interest.  We affirm the juvenile court termination order.

Case No. 20-0087:  In the Interest of A.C.-D. and E.C.-D., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0087

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Stephanie Forker Parry, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (4 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to two children, contending the State failed to prove the grounds for termination cited by the district court; termination was not in the children’s best interests; and the district court should have placed the children in a guardianship in lieu of terminating her parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights to the children.

Case No. 20-0140:  In the Interest of E.C. and E.C., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0140

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Paul G. Crawford, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by May, J.  (4 pages)

            A father appeals the juvenile court’s termination of his parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: We conclude termination is appropriate under Iowa law and consistent with the children’s best interests.

Case No. 20-0146:  In the Interest of K.D., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0146

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Cynthia S. Finley, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (4 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to a child, contending: (1) the State failed to prove the ground for termination cited by the district court; (2) termination was not in the child’s best interests; (3) the district court should not have terminated her parental rights given the bond she shared with the child; and (4) she should have been afforded additional time to work toward reunification.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm.

Case No. 20-0153:  In the Interest of R.W., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0153

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Madison County, Brendan Greiner, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (6 pages)

            A mother and a father separately appeal from an order terminating their parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: Clear and convincing evidence shows the child could not be returned safely to either parent’s care at the time of the termination hearing.  Because the continued offer and receipt of services for an additional six months will not remedy the concerns that brought the child to the court’s attention, an extension of time is unwarranted.  Considering the child’s safety and need for a permanent home, termination is in the child’s best interests.  

Case No. 20-0168:  In the Interest of S.E., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0168

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (8 pages)

            A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to a two-year-old child.  They argue the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for termination and that termination is detrimental to their child due to the parent-child bond.  OPINION HOLDS:  The State showed by clear and convincing evidence the child cannot be returned to the home of either parent at the present time, proving the statutory ground for termination.  And the parent-child bond is not strong enough to result in disadvantage to the child following termination.  We affirm the termination as to both appeals. 

Case No. 20-0184:  In the Interest of K.R., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0184

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin Parker, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (4 pages)

            A mother appeals a permanency order transferring guardianship and custody of her child.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the juvenile court’s permanency order.

Case No. 20-0223:  In the Interest of M.M., O.M., M.M., J.M., and C.M., Minor Children

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0223

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Allamakee County, Linnea M.N. Nicol, District Associate Judge. AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (7 pages)

            A father appeals the adjudication of his children as children in need of assistance, contending the State did not prove the adjudicatory grounds by clear and convincing evidence.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find clear and convincing evidence to support the adjudication on each ground found by the juvenile court, we affirm.

Case No. 20-0239:  In the Interest of N.B., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0239

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F. Staudt, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (5 pages)

            A mother and a father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child.  OPINION HOLDS: I. Clear and convincing evidence shows that returning the child to the mother’s care will expose the child to a harm warranting a new child-in-need-of-assistance adjudication.  The grounds for terminating the mother’s parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2019) have been met.  The child is not so closely bonded with the mother that termination of her parental rights would be detrimental to the child.  Because termination is in the child’s best interests, we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.  II. We deny the father’s request to delay permanency six months because the issues that led to the child’s removal would continue to exist at the end of the six months.  We affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights.

Case No. 20-0269:  In the Interest of M.B., Minor Child

Filed Apr 01, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0269

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (4 pages)

            A father appeals a juvenile court review order asking the department of human services to commence a child protective assessment investigating him for possible child abuse of one daughter, after the daughter raised concerns about his recent actions to the court.  He also challenges the juvenile court’s suspension of his visitation with the child until completion of the investigation.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the father did not object to the order on the child protective assessment below, we do not address it on appeal.  We also find the visitation suspension is moot because the father subsequently was arrested and incarcerated and was evicted from his apartment, requiring a new assessment of his visitation.  We affirm. 

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