Sioux City Journal - MAR 7, 2014
The defamation lawsuit of State Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, against his former campaign opponent Rick Mullin and the Iowa Democratic Party brings up an important question about our courts: Who should decide the outcome of civil disputes?
For hundreds of years in America the answer was simple. Local jurors decided disputes between parties and complicated cases were then reviewed by appellate judges. Our founders fought for this system. They demanded it in our Bill of Rights with the Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury in civil cases. This system ensured that citizens would hear all the facts of each individual case, weigh the arguments of each party, and come to a common-sense solution. James Madison went so far as to say that, “trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.” read more
Cedar Rapids Gazette - FEB 25, 2014
Two former Finley Hospital nurses in Dubuque claim they were blacklisted from getting another job with other Unity Point Health hospitals, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dubuque County District Court.
Former nurses, Lisa Flanagan and Ellen Rath claim in the suit their former employer put messages into a database discouraging prospective employers to hire the women, which is "blacklisting" according to state law... read more
Des Moines Register Editorial - FEB 6, 2014
The governor has proposed initiatives to retain and attract doctors, including loan forgiveness and money to support medical residencies. Those are fine. But he also supports "efforts to reform medical malpractice litigation," including a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. This is another example of wide misunderstanding about why physicians make decisions about where to locate... read more
Des Moines Register Editorial - JAN 13, 2014
One of the first bills in the hopper as the Iowa Legislature was gaveled into session Monday is a proposal to toughen the penalties for kidnapping a child. This is the sort of proposal that could sail through both chambers and the governor’s office without much debate. After all, who could be against ratcheting up the punishment for monsters convicted of kidnapping children?
This is also how lawmakers load the Iowa criminal code with ill-considered criminal penalties when passions are running high following a particularly heinous crime. Sometimes those decisions have to be corrected later. Whether popular or not, every proposal for tougher criminal penalties should be carefully scrutinized to assess the effect on the courts, prisons, public safety and criminal behavior... read more
FM Daily Democrat - DEC 30, 2013
Gray balances family, law practice and IAJ presidency - Many people finish school and get their first job in order to begin their adult lives. It’s only the truly lucky ones who leave college and find the dream jobs they plan to keep forever. Elaine Fehseke Gray has that type of luck.
Gray is a lifelong resident of the area. “I grew up right here in Fort Madison,” she says. “I’m an original. My mother and father are from Iowa, and my brother and I were born and raised in Fort Madison.” ...read more
Des Moines Register - DEC 22, 2013
Questionable use of Tasers has led to at least eight lawsuits alleging law enforcement officers have used excessive or unnecessary force in Iowa over the past six years.
The lawsuits have resulted in individual payouts by taxpayers of as much as $150,000, but all eight of the law enforcement agencies involved determined their officers followed policies, and no officer in any of the cases was disciplined, a Des Moines Register investigation shows.
Still, a law enforcement consultant and a civil liberties advocate both told the Register that the cases expose a mindset in law enforcement that accepts extensive use of the weapons as harmless... read more.
IAJ - NOV 2013
The Iowa Association for Justice held its annual two day seminar November 7-8, 2013 at the Marriott Downtown Des Moines. At the event IAJ installed new executive officers and members of its Board of Governors. IAJ’s newly installed leaders will serve the 2013-14 term. IAJ also honored its 2013 award winners and donated to a local charity though its Justice In Deed community service initiative. Follow this link to see photos from the event. Follow this link to read IAJ's press release announcing new officers, board members and award winners.
Worst Supreme Court arbitration decision ever
Public Justice - JUN 20, 2013
In American Express v. Italian Colors, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a take-it-or-leave-it arbitration clause could be used to prevent small businesses from actually pursuing their claims for abuse of monopoly power under the antitrust laws... read more.
Des Moines Register - JUN 15, 2013
It didn't get much attention in Iowa last week, but a new study on the effect of campaign donations in judicial elections merits a mention.
The study from the American Constitution Society compared campaign contributions to rulings by state supreme court justices. It found that the more campaign contributions justices received from business interests, the more likely they were to rule in favor of business interests who appear before them in court... read more.
You can read the full report from the American Constitution Society here.
IAJ - MAY 29, 2013
Legislative Wrap-up: Once again tort "reform" is a non-starter with Iowa's elected representatives. A number of bills would have limited accountability for wrongdoers and blocked access to justice, but they failed to gain support in the 2013 legislative session... read more.
IAJ Members can read the full 2013 Legislative Session Wrap-up here.
QC Times - MAY 15, 2013
Blame Henry's Turkey Service for systemic abuse and enslavement of disabled men denigrated as "Henry's boys," house in filth and forced to work for pennies an hour while their employers siphoned away wages and disability benefits. But blame Congress for further persecuting these men. They're the ones who approved caps on court awards... read more.