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May 2024 Archive | Most Recent Court of Appeals Summaries

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

Opinion Summaries

Case No. 21-1491:  State of Iowa v. Joseph Vernon Kremer

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 21-1491

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Fae Hoover Grinde, Judge.  APPEAL DISMISSED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (6 pages)

            Joseph Kremer contends that he was denied due process when the district court imposed judgment and sentence before he entered guilty pleas for two offenses—operating without owner’s consent and eluding—committed in September 2021.  The State concedes that those convictions postdated the judgment and sentence but argues that Kremer lacks good cause to appeal because the premature sentence was what he bargained for in the later-filed plea agreement.  OPINION HOLDS: Kremer lacks good cause to appeal because the sentence was what he bargained for in the plea agreement.  We dismiss the appeal. 

Case No. 22-0392:  Goettsch v. Heidman Law Firm LLP

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-0392

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Sarah Crane, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (15 pages)

            A claimant appeals adverse rulings following a jury trial and post-trial motions in a legal malpractice action against the attorneys representing him in the buy-out of shares in a family-farm corporation.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm, finding the requested instruction was not supported by the evidence, issue preclusion was appropriately decided, and the remaining motion-in-limine issue was not preserved.

Case No. 22-1736:  State of Iowa v. Chase Brian Mead

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1736

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David M. Porter, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Ahlers, P.J., Chicchelly, J., and Carr, S.J.  Opinion by Carr, S.J.  (8 pages)

            Chase Mead appeals his convictions for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, failure to affix a drug tax stamp, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and possession of a firearm as a felon.  OPINION HOLDS: We conclude there is substantial evidence in the record to show Mead had constructive possession of the methamphetamine, marijuana, and firearm.  Also, the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Mead.  We affirm his convictions and sentences.

Case No. 22-2082:  State of Iowa v. William Vernale Stephenson

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2082

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Zrinyi Ackley, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Buller, J., and Gamble, S.J.  Opinion by Gamble, S.J. (12 pages)

            William Stephenson appeals his convictions for sexual abuse in the second degree and continuous sexual abuse of a child.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding substantial evidence supports the verdicts and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Stephenson’s motions for mistrial, we affirm.

Case No. 22-2104:  Justin Michael Stickrod v. State of Iowa

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2104

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Monroe County, Myron Gookin, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (7 pages)

            Justin Stickrod appeals the district court’s denial of his application for postconviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial lawyer failed to move for a mistrial after a prospective juror claimed Stickrod confessed and was guilty during voir dire.  OPINION HOLDS: Because Stickrod has failed to establish prejudice, we affirm.

Case No. 22-2107:  Logan Jeffrey Shoemaker v. State of Iowa

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2107

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Patrick A. McElyea, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (18 pages)

            An applicant appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find that trial counsel was not required to bring meritless motions for a change of venue or judgment of acquittal, object to evidence that was inextricably linked with other admissible evidence, or request jury instructions not supported by caselaw, we affirm the postconviction-relief court’s denial of his application.

Case No. 23-0207:  Ambrashia Marie Chrzan v. State of Iowa

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0207

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Joel D. Yates, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  (11 pages)

Ambrashia Chrzan appeals the district court’s denial of her application for postconviction relief.  On appeal, she argues her trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to (1) move for a court-appointed expert medical witness; (2) object to or prevent introduction of prior bad acts evidence that she used drugs while pregnant; (3) investigate and present family members as witnesses to her parenting abilities; and (4) move for a change of venue.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm, finding upon our de novo review of the record that Chrzan failed to meet her burden to prove that trial counsel was ineffective.

Case No. 23-0230:  In re Marriage of Edwards

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0230

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Terry Rickers, Judge.  AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Buller and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (12 pages)

            A husband appeals the spousal support and valuation of a checking account in the decree dissolving his marriage.  The other spouse defends the decree and requests appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the decree as modified and decline to award appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 23-0293:  Nicholas Dean Freitag v. State of Iowa

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0293

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Rustin Davenport, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  (10 pages)

            An applicant appeals a district court ruling denying his applications for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court’s ruling, concluding that it properly denied the applicant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Case No. 23-0350:  In re the Marriage of Nye

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0350

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lee (North) County, John M. Wright, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Badding and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (7 pages)

            Lonnie Nye appeals the district court’s denial of his petition to modify the parties’ dissolution decree, claiming his disability payments through his pension are spousal support subject to modification.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm.

Case No. 23-0390:  State of Iowa v. Raymond Leo Showers

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0390

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Michael J. Schilling, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J. (14 pages)

            Raymond Showers appeals his conviction for third-degree sexual abuse, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the conviction.  OPINION HOLDS: We find that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that the defendant performed a sex act with the victim against her force of will, and we affirm.

Case No. 23-0494:  South Construction and Insulation, LLC v. Iowa Workforce Development

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0494

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Rustin Davenport, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (14 pages)

            A limited liability company (LLC) challenges the dismissal of its petition for judicial review.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the statute at issue here—Iowa Code section 96.1A (2022)—defines wages, we are bound by its definition.  Its definition includes all remuneration received by a member of the LLC unless proportional to membership interest.  Thus, Iowa Workforce Development’s (IWD)’s determination that only the amount of remuneration one member received beyond that of the other member was wages is a correct interpretation of a provision of law, with justification, and required by law.  The calculation that IWD used to determine the amount of that remuneration that is wages was reasonable and correct.  We affirm the court’s dismissal of the LLC’s petition for judicial review.

Case No. 23-0612:  Duke Carter v. Mike Fricke and Laura Fricke

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0612

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Monroe County, Crystal S. Cronk, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (10 pages)

            Duke Carter appeals the district court’s ruling in a quiet-title action rejecting his claim of ownership of a disputed parcel of land by adverse possession.  OPINION HOLDS: Assuming Carter eventually did act as owner of the disputed land, we cannot find proof of ten straight years of qualifying conduct.  Nor do we find most of Carter’s use to be hostile, as the prior owners permitted Carter to store items on the lot, and Carter has failed to show any act or event that ripened his possession from permissive to hostile.  And so, because the law favors regular title and Carter has not shown clear and positive proof of hostile, continuous possession of Lot 3, we affirm the district court’s rejection of his adverse-possession claim.

Case No. 23-0623:  State of Iowa v. Mark David Russell

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0623

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Angela L. Doyle, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Tabor, Greer, Schumacher, and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (9 pages)

            The defendant appeals his conviction for first-degree murder.  OPINION HOLDS: The State presented substantial evidence that Russell did not act in self-defense because he instigated the physical altercation, escalated it, and continued it after disarming the victim.  We affirm.

Case No. 23-0711:  Janet Walker and Linda Martens v. Marlin Daniels, Glenn Daniels, and David Daniels, each in their capacity as Co-Executors of the Estate of Lucille Daniels, Deceased, and individually, Estate of Lucille Daniels, and Daniels, Inc.

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0711

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lyon County, Charles Borth, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Buller and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (16 pages)

            A family farming corporation—Daniels, Inc.—and its majority shareholders—three brothers and the estate of their mother—appeal the district court’s determination of the fair value of their sisters’ shares in Daniels, Inc. after it elected to buy the shares to avoid corporate dissolution under Iowa Code section 490.1434 (2021).  They argue the district court used the wrong valuation date and failed to discount the valuation for potential tax consequences and transaction costs.  OPINION HOLDS: The plain text of section 490.1434(4) presumptively sets the valuation date as the day before the sisters filed their amended petition first asserting a dissolution claim—not the day before their original petition seeking damages for common law minority-shareholder oppression.  And since a sale of the farming corporation’s assets was not imminent—or even expected ever—it was proper not to discount the corporation’s fair value for hypothetical taxes or transaction costs.  We thus affirm the district court's fair-value determination of the sisters’ shares.

Case No. 23-0786:  State of Iowa v. Isaiah Cecil Hakeem Duffield

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0786

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Fayette County, Richard D. Stochl, Judge.  SENTENCE VACATED IN PART AND REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Ahlers, J. (5 pages)

            Isaiah Duffield appeals the sentence imposed following his guilty plea.  OPINION HOLDS: Because Duffield cannot establish the district court committed any legal error or abused its discretion when selecting the amount of the fine, we do not disturb the fine imposed.  But because the district court did not provide any reasoning for imposing the sentence in this case consecutively to a sentence in a separate case, we must remand for resentencing as to whether the sentence should run consecutively to the other sentence.  Resentencing is to be before a different judge.

Case No. 23-0812:  Walter James Mead v. State of Iowa

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0812

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, James N. Daane, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Badding, J., and Blane, S.J.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (6 pages)

            Walter Mead appeals the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief (PCR).  OPINION HOLDS: Because Mead’s PCR application was filed more than three years after his conviction was final and he asserted no ground of fact material to his substantive claim that could not have been presented within the three-year time frame, see Iowa Code § 822.3 (2022), we affirm.

Case No. 23-0826:  Katie Venechuk n/k/a Katie Vandewalker v. Gary A. Landherr

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0826

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Worth County, Blake H. Norman, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., and Ahlers and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  Dissent by Langholz, J.  (17 pages)

            A parent appeals the district court’s denial of her petition to modify her custody decree to allow her child to switch schools.  OPINION HOLDS:  Because the mother did not seek modification to receive sole legal custody, we affirm.  DISSENT ASSERTS:  I do not read In re Marriage of Frazier, 1 N.W.3d 775 (Iowa 2024), to remove a court’s authority to modify a school-district-setting provision in an order or decree when a party shows a material change in circumstances and the modification is in the child’s best interest.  And applying that proper standard here, I would reverse the district court’s denial of the modification request because the move to Riceville and enrollment of a half-sister in the Riceville school district is a material change in circumstances and attending the local school, with her half-sisters, less than two minutes away—rather than a twenty-five-minute car ride or an hour-plus car-and-bus trip to St. Ansgar—is in the daughter’s best interest.

Case No. 23-0865:  State of Iowa v. Dallas Dean Hoffman

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0865

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, John R. Flynn, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (5 pages)

            Dallas Hoffman appeals his convictions after a jury found him guilty of four counts of second-degree sexual abuse.  OPINION HOLDS: Because substantial evidence supports the jury’s verdicts, we affirm Hoffman’s convictions.

Case No. 23-0925:  State of Iowa v. Terry Dean Erickson

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0925

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J. (5 pages)

            A defendant appeals his sentence.  He argues the court improperly considered only the nature of the offense in determining the sentence.  OPINION HOLDS: We determine no abuse of discretion by the district court and affirm.

Case No. 23-0958:  Abbas v. Franklin County Board of Supervisors

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0958

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Franklin County, Rustin Davenport, Judge.  APPEAL AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS; CROSS-APPEAL AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Buller and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (11 pages)

            Plaintiffs appeal and defendants cross-appeal the award of damages to plaintiffs following repairs to a drainage ditch, raising issues related to the existence of an easement, damages, and the conveyance of property.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the defendants did not abandon the easement and the district court’s award of damages fell within the permissible range of evidence and was not overly speculative, we affirm the appeal in part and affirm the cross-appeal.  We vacate and remand with directions on the property-conveyance issue.

Case No. 23-1040:  Bobby Joe Morris v. State of Iowa

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1040

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Schumacher and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J.  (7 pages)

            An applicant appeals the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: The applicant’s illegal sentence claim was litigated in a prior postconviction relief action, and his claim of actual innocence is barred by the statute of limitations.  Accordingly, we affirm.

Case No. 23-1067:  State of Iowa v. David Ralph Latham

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1067

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, David Cox, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J. (5 pages)

            Defendant challenges his sentence, arguing an abuse of discretion by the district court. OPINION HOLDS: We determine no abuse of discretion by the district court and affirm.

Case No. 23-1080:  Macy Alexander Worth v. Matthew Noel Geinitz

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1080

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, Shane Mayer, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, P.J.  (7 pages)

            A mother appeals the physical-care determination made in a custodial decree, which placed physical care of her children with the children’s father.  The father requests appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: On our review of the record and deferring to the district court’s credibility findings, we conclude that the children’s interests are best served by placing their physical care with their father.  We affirm the district court’s physical-care determination.  We do not award the father appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 23-1106:  State of Iowa v. Alexander Isaiah Knight

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1106

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Mark F. Schlenker, Judge.  SENTENCES VACATED AND REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Danilson, S.J.  Opinion by Danilson, S.J.  (6 pages)

            Alexander Knight appeals his sentences following his convictions for assault causing bodily injury and operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.  OPINON HOLDS: Because the district court considered an impermissible sentencing factor, we must vacate Knight’s sentences and remand for resentencing before a different judge.

Case No. 23-1513:  Mitch Robeoltman and Sabrina Risley v. Timothy Hartkopp

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1513

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hardin County, Amy M. Moore, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Buller, P.J., Langholz, J., and Carr, S.J.  Opinion by Carr, S.J.  (8 pages)

            The plaintiffs appeal the denial and dismissal of their claims of breach of implied warranty of workmanlike construction and failure to disclose defects against the seller of a house.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the seller was not a buyer-vendor, the implied warranty of workmanlike construction is inapplicable here.  Likewise, because there was no evidence that the seller had actual knowledge of any defects and failed to disclose them, that claim also does not provide relief.  We affirm.

Case No. 24-0191:  In the Interest of A.W., J.B., and K.W., Minor Children

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0191

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Joan M. Black, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (11 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her three children.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm.

Case No. 24-0230:  In the Interest of A.W., Minor Child

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0230

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Adam Sauer, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Tabor and Badding, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (9 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children, claiming the State failed to prove the ground for termination cited by the juvenile court, termination is not in the child’s best interests, a six-month extension would eliminate the ground for termination, and the court should apply a permissive exception to preclude termination.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon review, we affirm.

Case No. 24-0233:  In the Interest of M.D., Minor Child

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0233

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Cynthia S. Finley, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, S.J.  (6 pages)

            Following the mother’s short-term mental-health committal for stimulant-induced psychosis, the juvenile court ordered the removal of the mother’s child, M.D., from her custody and later adjudicated M.D. in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.96A(3)(a), (3)(b), and (14) (2023).  The mother challenges M.D.’s initial removal and whether the State proved the grounds for adjudication.  OPINION HOLDS: Because any deficiencies in the removal proceedings were rendered moot by the entry of a subsequent dispositional order, we do not consider the mother’s challenge of that issue.  We affirm adjudication of M.D. on all three grounds. 

Case No. 24-0253:  In the Interest of D.F., Minor Child

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0253

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Humboldt County, Hans Becker, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, P.J.  (4 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.  She argues termination is not in the child’s best interests and the court should have applied a permissive exception to preclude termination.  OPINION HOLDS: Termination is in the child’s best interests, and we decline to apply a permissive exception to termination.

Case No. 24-0355:  In the Interest of I.T., Minor Child

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0355

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Appanoose County, Richelle Mahaffey, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J.  (9 pages)

            A mother appeals the district court order terminating her parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: We find the termination of the mother’s parental rights is supported by clear and convincing evidence, termination is in the child’s best interests, and an exception to termination should not be applied.  We affirm the decision of the district court.

Case No. 24-0411:  In the Interest of R.C., L.C., and M.M., Minor Children

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0411

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Carrie K. Bryner, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (11 pages)

            A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: The mother did not preserve error on her reasonable efforts challenge or her argument that the juvenile court should have considered terminating her rights to only one or two of the children rather than all three.  The State presented clear and convincing evidence to support the statutory ground for termination of the father’s rights, and termination of his parental rights was in the children’s best interests.  For these reasons, we affirm on both appeals.

Case No. 24-0456:  In the Interest of A.C., Minor Child

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0456

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Carrie K. Bryner, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (6 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her six-year-old son, A.C.  OPINION HOLDS: The State proved grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence, and termination is in A.C.’s best interests, so we affirm.

Case No. 24-0495:  In the Interest of L.G., Minor Child

Filed May 22, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0495

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marion County, Steven Guiter, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (10 pages)

            A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.  OPINION HOLDS: Clear and convincing evidence supports terminating the mother’s parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2024).  Because granting the mother additional time will not change the need for the child’s removal and termination is in the child’s best interests, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1523:  In re Estate of Clegg

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1523

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Shawn Showers, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (11 pages)

            The plaintiffs in a will contest appeal the orders directing the clerk of court to hold funds subject to an attorney’s lien until ownership is determined.  OPINION HOLDS: Because ownership of the funds is disputed, the court did not abuse its discretion by ordering the clerk of court to hold the funds in trust pending a legal determination of ownership or a valid release of the attorney’s lien.

Case No. 22-1711:  State of Iowa v. Mark Todd Fishler

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1711

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Zrinyi Ackley, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (12 pages)

            Mark Fishler appeals his conviction for first-degree murder.  OPINION HOLDS: Fishler failed to preserve error on his Brady claim.  Because substantial evidence supports his conviction, juror bias did not deprive him of a fair trial by an impartial jury, and the greater weight of the credible evidence supports the jury’s verdict, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1832:  State of Iowa v. Sharon Kay Collins

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1832

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Stephen A. Owen, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Buller, J., and Mullins, S.J.  Opinion by Mullins, S.J. (11 pages)

            Sharon Collins appeals her convictions on two counts of child endangerment and the sentences imposed.  As to the convictions, she argues the evidence was insufficient to support one of the alternative theories for guilt.  In relation to this challenge, she argues the savings statute for general verdicts—Iowa Code section 814.28 (2021)—is unconstitutional, and she is therefore entitled to a new trial.  As to the sentences, Sharon argues the “court impermissibly considered the [presentence investigation report’s] references to [her] difficulties with problem solving and decision-making as aggravating rather than mitigating factors.”  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the convictions as supported by substantial evidence.  As a result, we need not address the challenge to the constitutionality of Iowa Code section 814.28.  Finding no abuse of discretion in sentencing, we affirm the sentences imposed.

Case No. 22-1870:  Michael William Walker McPeek Jr. v. State of Iowa

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1870

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

            Michael McPeek Jr. appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief, arguing he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel.  OPINION HOLDS: Because McPeek’s trial counsel did not breach any essential duty, nor was McPeek prejudiced by appellate counsel’s form-of-review error, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1953:  In re Estate of Clegg

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1953

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Shawn Showers, Judge.  APPEAL DISMISSED.  Heard by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (5 pages)

            The plaintiffs in a will contest appeal the order approving the executor’s final report and closing the estate.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the claims the plaintiffs raise on appeal concern an earlier order of the probate court that was not appealed, we dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

Case No. 22-1958:  State of Iowa v. Douglas Arthur Hagenow

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1958

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, DeDra Schroeder, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J.  (23 pages)

            Douglas Arthur Hagenow appeals his convictions for sexual abuse, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the convictions and contending the district court abused its discretion when ruling on his pretrial motions.  OPINION HOLDS: Because there is sufficient evidence for the convictions and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motions, we affirm.

Case No. 22-1988:  State of Iowa v. Milton Andrew Bokemeyer

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-1988

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Buchanan County, Joel Dalrymple, Judge.  CONVICTIONS AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART, SENTENCES AND REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  Partial dissent by Buller, J. (24 pages)

            Milton Bokemeyer appeals his convictions and sentences for drug and firearm offenses, claiming the State presented insufficient evidence that he possessed psilocybin, failed to affix drug tax stamps, or possessed a firearm.  Bokemeyer alternatively claims that the evidence only supports one conviction for possessing a firearm in violation of Iowa Code section 724.26 (2021).  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find there was insufficient evidence to support Bokemeyer’s convictions for possession of psilocybin and failure to affix dug tax stamps, we reverse these convictions.  Additionally, while we find sufficient evidence that Bokemeyer possessed a firearm, we agree that he could properly be convicted of only one violation of section 724.26, so we reverse one of his convictions under that statute.  This leaves Bokemeyer with convictions for possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing marijuana while in possession of a firearm, and one count of possession of a firearm under section 724.26.  Because the district court imposed consecutive sentences on two of Bokemeyer’s convictions—one of which we have reversed—we vacate the sentences on the remaining convictions and remand for resentencing.  PARTIAL DISSENT ASSERTS: I dissent in part because the video and photo evidence was sufficient to prove a tax-stamp violation for the methamphetamine.  I also disagree with the majority’s reliance on what I consider outdated and wrongly decided unpublished cases. 

Case No. 22-2002:  State of Iowa v. Dennis Wayne Ruppe

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2002

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Gregory W. Steensland, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Schumacher, P.J., Chicchelly, J., and Carr, S.J.  Opinion by Carr, S.J.  (6 pages)

            Dennis Ruppe appeals his convictions for attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury, assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, and criminal mischief.  OPINION HOLDS: We do not address Ruppe’s claim he received ineffective assistance of counsel while the court was polling the jury, as we do not address claims of ineffective assistance in a direct appeal.  Ruppe did not file a pretrial objection to the venue and this issue is therefore waived.  The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Ruppe’s motion for a new trial.  We affirm Ruppe’s convictions.

Case No. 22-2033:  State of Iowa v. Dean Edward Hilpipre

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2033

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hardin County, Amy M. Moore, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Carr, S.J.  Opinion by Carr, S.J.  (9 pages)

            The defendant appeals his convictions for second-degree sexual abuse, lascivious acts with a minor, and third-degree sexual abuse.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the State’s expert witness did not impermissibly vouch for the credibility of the child victim and there was substantial evidence presented to support the convictions, we affirm.

Case No. 22-2048:  Fatima E. Belhak and Abdellatif Elfila v. Denice Smith, M.D., and Women's Care Specialists, P.C.

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 22-2048

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Jeffrey D. Bert, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Badding and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (17 pages)

            Denice Smith and her employer appeal from a medical malpractice verdict against them arising from her care of Fatima Belhak following an episiotomy performed during the birth of Belhak’s first child.  Smith seeks a new trial because of insufficient evidence of causation for one of the three specifications of negligence submitted to the jury and because of attorney misconduct during closing arguments and the rest of the trial.  OPINION HOLDS: Because Belhak’s expert witness did not testify that the size of suture was more likely than not a cause of Belhak’s injury, the suture specification should not have been submitted to the jury.  And Smith properly preserved error on this issue by moving for a directed verdict and raising it again in her posttrial motion for a new trial.  It matters not that she agreed to the jury instruction.  Smith is thus entitled to a new trial on this basis alone, and we need not address whether the conduct of Belhak’s counsel would also warrant a new trial.

Case No. 23-0005:  John Feller v. State of Iowa

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0005

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Michael J. Shubatt, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Schumacher, J., and Blane, S.J.  Opinion by Blane, S.J.  (15 pages)

            John Feller appeals the denial of his application to modify sex offender registry requirements.  OPINION HOLDS: Although it is a difficult case, substantial evidence supports the district court’s decision that Feller’s risk of reoffense and the interests of public safety require that he continue placement on the registry at this time.  So we find no abuse of discretion and affirm.

Case No. 23-0236:  Fox Prairie Investors, LLC, Fox Prairie Plaza South Building Owners Association, Fox Prairie North Building Owners Association v. Walters Companies, Inc.

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0236

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David Nelmark, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (17 pages)

            Some owners of the Fox Prairie Plaza appeal the district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing their breach-of-contract suit against Walters Companies, Inc.—the original developer and general contractor that built the Fox Prairie Plaza—under an assignment of a construction contract that Walters allegedly made with itself.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the owners presented no evidence from which a jury could find that they obtained a valid assignment of a right to sue Walters under Walters’s alleged contract with itself, their breach-of-contract claim fails. 

Case No. 23-0247:  Damion John Seats v. State of Iowa

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0247

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, James M. Drew, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (4 pages)

            An applicant appeals the denial of postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0365:  State of Iowa v. Christy Ann Gainvors

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0365

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Casey D. Jones, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Badding, J., and Carr, S.J.  Opinion by Carr, S.J.  (5 pages)

            Christy Gainvors failed to pay the outstanding balance on her charge account, which she allegedly opened and charged at her prior place of employment without proper authorization.  A jury convicted Gainvors of theft in the third degree.  She now appeals her conviction, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0384:  State of Iowa v. Trivansky Tyrique Swington

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0384

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Brook Jacobsen, Judge.  AFFIRMED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  Dissent by Buller, J.  (5 pages)

            A defendant appeals his sentence for assault causing bodily injury.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding that the district court sentenced the defendant according to his plea agreement but included the wrong assault title and code section in the judgment order, we affirm the conviction and remand for the district court to amend the judgment to reflect the correct offense.  DISSENT ASSERTS: Because the elected branches did not intend for us to find “good cause” to correct typos, I dissent.

Case No. 23-0402:  Emerson Dennis Saul v. Seaboard Triumph Foods, L.L.C.

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0402

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Roger L. Sailer, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Badding and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Langholz, J.  (16 pages)

            Emerson Saul was injured at a Seaboard Triumph Foods, LLC pork processing plant, where he was a temporary employee, while employed by a staffing agency.  He appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Seaboard Triumph, dismissing his negligence lawsuit over his workplace injury after holding that Seaboard Triumph was also his employer.  OPINION HOLDS: Seaboard Triumph presented strong evidence supporting its motion for summary judgment from which a factfinder could conclude that it was Saul’s second employer.  But we cannot say that this is the only reasonable conclusion a factfinder could reach from the evidence—especially given that Seaboard Triumph’s human resources manager testified that Saul was not Seaboard Triumph’s employee.  The district court thus erred in granting summary judgment.

Case No. 23-0407:  Curtis Cortez Jones v. State of Iowa

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0407

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

            Curtis Jones appeals the summary disposition of his application for postconviction relief.  He argues that his trial counsel was ineffective when arguing against a motion to strike a potential juror for cause and appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the issue.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the potential juror had a felony conviction, under the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure in effect at the time of trial, the district court was required to grant the motion to strike for cause.  Trial and appellate counsel did not provide ineffective assistance.  Summary disposition of the application for postconviction relief was properly granted.

Case No. 23-0458:  Beverage v. ALCOA, Inc

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0458

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Patrick A. McElyea, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.  Heard by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  Special Concurrence by Greer, P.J.  (28 pages)

            A deceased independent contractor and his family challenge the grant of summary judgment for a land possessor in a premises-liability action.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the district court applied the incorrect duty of care and we do not modify the duty of care of land possessors, we reverse and remand with directions to apply the correct duty of care owed by land possessors to entrants.  SPECIAL CONCURRENCE ASSERTS: I agree with the majority that this case should be remanded for further consideration but disagree over what we should direct the district court to do.  In my opinion, the court must revisit Alcoa, Inc.’s (Alcoa) potential liability under both the land possessor-entrant theory and the employer-independent contractor theory without separating the two—as Charles Beverage was both an entrant and the employee of Alcoa’s independent contractor at the same time.

Case No. 23-0459:  Aspire of Pleasant Valley v. Creighton

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0459

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Tom Reidel, Judge.  APPEAL DISMISSED.  Heard by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, P.J.  (8 pages)

            Aspire of Pleasant Valley appeals the district court’s order dismissing its claim against an agent under her mother’s power of attorney.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the person named as agent in the power of attorney does not and cannot serve as agent any longer, the issue whether an agent can be sued in the agent’s representative capacity is now moot.  As neither the voluntary-cessation or public-importance exceptions to the mootness doctrine apply, we dismiss the appeal.

Case No. 23-0650:  Daniel Ray Penticoff v. State of Iowa

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0650

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Kellyann M. Lekar, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Buller, J., takes no part.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (4 pages)

            Daniel Penticoff appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Penticoff cannot establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder could find him guilty of first-degree robbery; we affirm. 

Case No. 23-0796:  Miltner Insurance Services, LLC v. Roberts

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0796

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Adams County, Brad McCall, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON APPEAL; AFFIRMED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS ON CROSS-APPEALHeard by Bower, C.J., and Badding and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  (18 pages)

            Parties appeal and cross-appeal the district court’s remand ruling on remedies in an employment-contract dispute.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm on the employee’s appeal, concluding she did not meet her burden to prove the liquidated-damages clause constituted a penalty and was therefore unenforceable.  On the employer’s cross-appeal, we find the affirmative-defense and burden-shifting argument was not preserved and substantial evidence supports the court’s conclusion on the amount of damages.  We affirm and remand the issue of appellate attorney fees to the district court, to be considered with its determination of trial attorney fees.

Case No. 23-0856:  State of Iowa v. Justin Raymond Mann

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0856

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lucas County, Elisabeth Reynoldson, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (4 pages)

            A criminal defendant appeals his conviction, challenging denial of his motion to suppress.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the traffic stop was supported by probable cause and reasonable suspicion, we affirm.

Case No. 23-0973:  State of Iowa v. John Robert West

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0973

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Henry W. Latham II, Judge.  CONVICTIONS AFFIRMED AND SENTENCES VACATED IN PART.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J. (8 pages)           

            John West was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse, lascivious acts with a child, and false imprisonment.  On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the confinement element of his conviction for false imprisonment.  Additionally, he challenges a portion of his sentences requiring him to complete sex offender treatment.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding that the evidence was sufficient to convince a rational jury beyond a reasonable doubt that West confined the victim, we affirm his conviction for false imprisonment.  And because we find that the district court exceeded its authority by ordering West to complete sex offender treatment, we vacate this part of his sentences. 

Case No. 23-0983:  Hard Rappen Ranch, LLC v. Corey L. Bosma

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-0983

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Osceola County, Carl J.  Petersen, Judge.   AFFIRMED.   Considered by Bower, C.J., Langholz, J., and Potterfield, S.J.   Opinion by Langholz, J.   (8 pages)

            Plaintiff Hard Rappen Ranch, LLC, appeals the dismissal of his suit with prejudice after he repeatedly failed to pay the defendant’s venue-change attorney fees ordered under Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.808.  OPINION HOLDS: Considering Hard Rappen’s willful noncompliance—it offered no viable justification for its venue jockeying, nor any credible explanation for twice disregarding the court’s order—and affording due weight to the district court’s discretion, we affirm.

Case No. 23-1034:  Reyes v. International Van Lines, Inc.

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1034

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Charles Sinnard, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (14 pages)

            A moving company challenges a district court order granting plaintiff’s motion to substitute parties in a personal injury case.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the right defendant had notice of the plaintiff’s misnomer from the start, we find the district court properly allowed him to amend his pleadings.  Thus, we affirm.

Case No. 23-1091:  State of Iowa v. Sam Sando

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1091

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Badding, J., and Danilson, S.J.  Opinion by Badding, J.  (6 pages)

Sam Sando appeals the sentence imposed on his conviction following the revocation of his deferred judgment.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding no affirmative showing of an abuse of discretion or defect in the sentencing procedure, we affirm the sentence imposed.

Case No. 23-1156:  State of Iowa v. Louis Lee Cubbage, Jr.

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1156

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, Meghan Corbin, Judge.  SENTENCE VACATED AND REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  (7 pages)

            Louis Cubbage appeals his sentence for willful injury causing bodily injury, arguing that the district court considered and relied on an improper sentencing factor when it stated that he “almost killed” his victim.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find that the district court improperly considered unproven activity that was unsupported by the record when it stated Cubbage “almost killed” his victim, we vacate his sentence and remand for resentencing in front of a different judge.

Case No. 23-1166:  State of Iowa v. Mohammed Baduruddin Hussain

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1166

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A. Bitter, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Doyle, S.J.  Opinion by Doyle, S.J.  (6 pages)

            Mohammed Baduruddin Hussain appeals his sentences after pleading guilty to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse.  OPINION HOLDS: The court did not rely on an impermissible sentencing factor by considering the need for punishment.  Because the court acted within its discretion when it imposed consecutive sentences, we affirm.

Case No. 23-1181:  State of Iowa v. Louis Lee Cubbage, Jr.

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1181

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, Meghan Corbin, Judge.  SENTENCE VACATED AND REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  Dissent by Buller, J.  (8 pages)

            Louis Cubbage appeals his sentence for driving while barred. OPINION HOLDS: We conclude that Cubbage’s sentence for driving while barred should be vacated and this case remanded for resentencing with a companion case in which he was sentenced for willful injury resulting in bodily injury.  By imposing concurrent sentences, without much mention of the driving-while-barred conviction, we conclude the district court considered the sentences to be interconnected.  We accordingly vacate the sentence for driving while barred without further opinion and remand for resentencing in front of a different judge.  DISSENT ASSERTS: Because the majority decides an unbriefed issue, bypasses the supreme court’s denial of a motion to consolidate, and applies inapposite case law from combined sentencing appeals, I dissent.

Case No. 23-1240:  In re the Marriage of Cowern

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1240

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

            Read Cowern appeals from a district court order modifying the joint-physical-care provision of the decree dissolving his marriage with Brandis Cowern.  He argues that rather than placing their children in Brandis’s physical care, the court should have placed them in his care or increased the amount of his visitation.  OPINION HOLDS: Discord between the parents amounted to a substantial change in circumstances warranting modifying the physical-care provision of the decree.  And placement with Brandis and the modified care schedule serves the best interests of the children by creating more stability for the children and reducing points of conflict between the parents.  We also award Brandis appellate attorney fees.   

Case No. 23-1322:  State of Iowa v. Tyler Michael Fontanini

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1322

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, Karen Kaufman Salic, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Ahlers, P.J., and Chicchelly and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Chicchelly, J. (6 pages)

            Tyler Michael Fontanini appeals the sentences imposed by the district court after pleading guilty, contending that the sentencing court abused its discretion by failing to consider certain mitigating factors.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find no abuse of discretion, we affirm the sentences.

Case No. 23-1423:  Nordstrom, Inc. v. Pamela Carmer f/k/a Pamela Hyde

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 23-1423

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Heather L. Lauber, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Badding and Langholz, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (12 pages)

            Nordstrom, Inc. appeals the district court’s order affirming the decision of the workers’ compensation commissioner awarding industrial disability benefits to Pamela Carmer for injuries to Carmer’s shoulders.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon review, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand with instructions.

Case No. 24-0102:  In the Interest of R.N., B.N., and J.N., Minor Children

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0102

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Adam D. Sauer, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Schumacher and Badding, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (7 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to three children, claiming the State failed to prove the grounds for termination cited by the juvenile court, termination is not in the children’s best interests, a six-month extension would eliminate the grounds for termination, and the court should apply a permissive exception to preclude termination.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon review, we affirm.

Case No. 24-0111:  In the Interest of F.W., Minor Child

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0111

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Ringgold County, Monty Franklin, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Buller, J.  (13 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights, challenging the grounds for termination and arguing termination is not in the child’s best interests, the State did not provide reasonable efforts towards reunification, a permissive exception to termination should have been applied, and the court should have given him another six months for reunification.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm. SPECIAL CONCURRENCE ASSERTS: I disagree that the juvenile court’s termination of the father’s parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(b) (2023) allows us to avoid addressing his reasonable-efforts argument.  Although we often state reasonable efforts are not a “strict substantive requirement of termination,” In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 493 (Iowa 2000), once the juvenile court transfers custody of a child to the department of health and human services, the department must make reasonable efforts to return the child safely home unless the court waives that requirement.  Iowa Code § 232.102(4)(b).  In my view, it is time for our supreme court to clarify the “strict substantive requirement” reference in C.B. and correct our court’s practice of snubbing reasonable-efforts claims in cases where the juvenile court terminates based on paragraph (b).  I would address the father’s reasonable efforts challenge and find that his request was untimely.  So I concur on the ultimate result. 

Case No. 24-0231:  In the Interest of Y.G. and D.G., Minor Children

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0231

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

            The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her two children.  OPINION HOLDS: The mother did not challenge termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2023), so we summarily conclude there is clear and convincing evidence for termination under that section.  Termination is in the children’s best interests because of the mother’s inability to provide these children with safety and a permanent home.  The permissive exception in section 232.116(3)(a) is inapplicable because the children are not in the legal custody of a relative, and we do not find that the need for termination will no longer exist in six months.  We affirm.

Case No. 24-0232:  In the Interest of A.D., Minor Child

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0232

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Grundy County, Daniel L. Block, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  Partial Dissent by Buller, J.  (21 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights raising six distinct arguments.  OPINION HOLDS: We find the father’s arguments meritorious in three respects.  First, we agree that the guardian ad litem’s reports did not comply with statutory requirements and cannot be relied on to support the termination order.  Second, we find the father was making sufficient progress in the case to warrant an extension of six months to work toward reunification.  Third, we find the department should have performed additional drug testing to determine whether the father’s mental-health medications were giving false positive results as part of its obligation to make reasonable efforts toward reunifying the family.  So we reverse the termination order and remand for further proceedings.  PARTIAL DISSENT ASSERTS: Because I would find error was not preserved on the guardian ad litem issue and I believe the majority’s remedy suggestion carries negative consequences contrary to legislative intent, I dissent in part.

Case No. 24-0431:  In the Interest of L.L., B.L., and K.L., Minor Children

Filed May 08, 2024

View Opinion No. 24-0431

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J. Holwerda, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Badding and Buller, JJ.  Opinion by Badding, J.  (8 pages)

            Parents separately appeal the termination of their parental rights, the mother to three children and the father to one child.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the termination of both parents’ rights.

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