Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in five cases Oct. 16 and 17

By: Rox Laird on October 12th, 2018

The Iowa Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in five cases Oct. 16 and 17, and nine cases will be submitted to the court without oral argument. Following are summaries of the October cases. [Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read the briefs filed with the Court in these cases.]

State v. Gordon

Scheduled for argument Oct. 16, 9 a.m.

The State appeals a ruling of the Iowa Court of Appeals ordering that Sean David Gordon be resentenced because the Floyd County District Court relied on results of sex-offender risk-assessment instruments not specifically authorized by statute or rule in sentencing him to up to 10 years prison for statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl.

Gordon argues the sentencing court violated his constitutional due-process rights by using statistical tools to assess his potential to reoffend. The Court of Appeals declined to reach the constitutional question, ruling instead that the trial court erred because no state statute or rule authorizes the use of the risk-assessment instruments in deciding whether to sentence a sex offender to prison or some other type of supervision.

The Court of Appeals, hearing the case en banc, was split 5-4 and produced two separate dissenting opinions. The appeals court noted that some critics, including other state courts, have questioned the validity of assessing recidivism risk based on group data as opposed to data specific to high-risk offenders. The Iowa Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on the issue, and this case and two others to be submitted on Oct. 16, will be an opportunity to do so.

State v. Guise

Scheduled for argument Oct. 16, 9 a.m.

The State appeals a ruling from the Iowa Court of Appeals ordering Montez Guise’s resentencing because the Cerro Gordo trial judge improperly relied on a risk-assessment tool not specifically authorized by statute or rule in sentencing him to 10 years in prison for second-degree burglary.

Guise raises the same arguments as Gordon in maintaining that the trial court’s use of a statistics-based risk-assessment tool in sentencing him to prison violated his due process rights. The Court of Appeals, issued its ruling the same day as Gordon’s and, as in that case, declined to address the constitutional question to rule on statutory grounds. The en banc court was also split 5-4, with the same lineup of judges, with four judges filing separate dissents.

State v. Buesing

Will be submitted to the Court Oct. 16 without oral argument.

Mitch Buesing raises the same issues as Gordon and Guise in this appeal of his sentence to up to 15 years in prison for first- and second-degree theft because the Cerro Gordo District Court violated his constitutional rights of due process.

Evenson v. Winnebago Industries, Sentry Insurance

Will be submitted to the Court Oct. 16 without oral argument.

David Lowell Evenson appeals decisions by the Polk County District Court and the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner regarding the extent of David Lowell Evenson’s worker’s compensation benefits. Specifically, Evenson asks the Iowa Supreme Court to clarify its 2016 ruling in Evenson v. Winnebago Industries regarding Winnebago Industries’ liability for Evenson’s healing period benefits.

State v. Myers

Scheduled for argument Oct. 16, 1:30 p.m.

Jeffrey John Myers seeks further review of a Court of Appeals ruling affirming his conviction for first-offense operating while intoxicated. He argues the Floyd County District Court erred in dismissing his motion to suppress that challenged the basis for the traffic stop based on an alleged taillight violation. Myers also challenges the validity of the State’s evidence of the “possible presence” of marijuana metabolites and amphetamines in his system based on an unconfirmed urine test.

Helmers v. City of Des Moines

Will be submitted to the Court Oct. 16 without oral argument.

The City of Des Moines seeks further review of a Court of Appeals ruling reversing a hearing officer’s holding that a dog that appeared to be a pitbull was a dangerous animal in violation of the city’s ordinance, holding that the city ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. Dianna Helmers argues city’s seizure of the dog violated the Fourth Amendment and that the city’s vicious animal ordinance violates due process under the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions.

State v. Haas

Will be submitted to the Court Oct. 16 without oral argument.

Kayla Jean Haas appeals her conviction in Story County District Court for driving while barred arguing the District Court was wrong to dismiss her motion to suppress evidence because police officers’ warrantless seizure violated the Iowa Constitution. Officers followed a vehicle driven by Haas when it left a home they had under surveillance, made the stop based on the license-plate illumination violation and searched the vehicle.

Lowe’s Home Centers v. Iowa Department of Revenue

Scheduled for oral argument Oct. 17, 9 a.m.

Lowe’s Home Centers appeals a decision by the Polk County District Court upholding an Iowa Department of Revenue decision that sales tax should be applied to labor costs associated with installation by Lowe’s subcontractors of home improvements – such as storm doors, windows and dishwashers – sold by the retailer. Lowe’s argues that the labor charges are exempt from sales taxes because the labor is for installation of permanent real property improvements, not maintenance or repairs, which are taxable.

Bluml v. Dee Jay’s Inc.

Scheduled for oral argument Oct. 17, 9 a.m.

Jason Bluml appeals a ruling by the Pottawattamie County District Court upholding a decision by the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner denying Bluml’s claim for permanent disability benefits because his injury was not a result of his employment. The commissioner held that Bluml’s head injury was the result of a workplace fall caused by a seizure not related to his job, and he struck his head on a hard-surface floor, not any workplace equipment or furniture. Bluml argues he should be compensated for the injury because the harness of the floor affected the severity of his injury.

In the Interest of M.D., K.T., G.A., E.A., & S.A., minor children

Will be submitted to the Court Oct. 17 without oral argument.

K.A. seeks further review of a decision by the Iowa Court of Appeals affirming a ruling by the Ida County District Court terminating her parental rights to her children. K.T. argues that the juvenile court violated her procedural due process rights by restricting her participation by telephone in the termination hearing.

State v. Harris

Will be submitted to the Court Oct. 17 without oral argument.

Anthony Antoine Harris seeks further review of a ruling by the Iowa Court of Appeals affirming his conviction in Polk County District Court for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and delivery of a controlled substance. He challenges the introduction of implied hearsay or indirect hearsay testimony and the sufficiency of evidence.

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On Brief is devoted to appellate litigation, with a focus on the Iowa Supreme Court, the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
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