Iowa Supreme Court Decisions PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Iowa Judicial Branch   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 08:16
May 11, 2012

Notice: The opinions posted on this site are slip opinions only. Under the Rules of Appellate Procedure a party has a limited number of days to request a rehearing after the filing of an opinion. Also, all slip opinions are subject to modification or correction by the court. Therefore, opinions on this site are not to be considered the final decisions of the court. The official published opinions of the Iowa Supreme Court are those published in the North Western Reporter published by West Group.

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NOTE: Copies of these opinions may be obtained from the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319, for a fee of fifty cents per page.

No. 11–0525


No. 11–1498


Grassley, GOP Judiciary Members Question Handling of Known Hezbollah Figure who was in U.S. Custody PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 14 May 2012 15:05

WASHINGTON – After learning that an Iraqi court would release Ali Musa Daqduq, a known Hezbollah figure and orchestrator of a plot that led to the deaths of five American soldiers, all Republican members of the Judiciary Committee asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for information about the Obama administration’s plans for dealing with the terrorist.


The members wrote, “Now an Iraqi court has cleared Daqduq of any criminal charges under Iraqi law and, as we and many other observers had feared, may be set free without being held to account for his crimes against the United States and its soldiers.”


Daqduq was captured on the battlefield in Iraq and was in U.S. custody until December 2011 when the Obama administration turned him over to Iraqi authorities.  Before handing the terrorist over to Iraq, a number of senators sent several letters to the administration urging them to try Daqduq before a military tribunal, instead of releasing him to Iraq, because of concerns that the Iraqi government would free the terrorist and he would be able to rejoin the battlefield and innocent people could be killed.  Those letters can be found here.


Following the turnover of Daqduq to Iraqi custody, the administration charged Daqduq with war crimes, but knowledge of those charges were only made public when the New York Times obtained a copy of the document.  It appears the administration made the charges only after the handover when Daqduq wouldn’t be accessible to the U.S. government.


Here’s a copy of the letter to Holder and Panetta.  A signed copy of the letter can be found here.


May 10, 2012


Via Electronic Transmission

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.                            The Honorable Leon Panetta

Attorney General                        Secretary of Defense

U.S. Department of Justice                        Department of Defense

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.                           Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20530                          Washington, D.C. 20301


Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Panetta:


According to a report in the New York Times on May 7, 2012, an Iraqi court has ordered the release of Ali Musa Daqduq.  Daqduq is a senior Hezbollah field commander who allegedly orchestrated a kidnapping that resulted in the deaths of five U. S. soldiers in Karbala, Iraq in 2007.  He also has close ties with Iran’s Qods Force, including training its fighters in the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) and other insurgent tactics employed against U.S. troops.  Daqduq had been in U.S. military custody until the United States turned him over to Iraqi authorities upon exiting Iraq in December 2011.


According to another report in the New York Times earlier this year, Daqduq has been charged with war crimes, including murder, terrorism, and espionage, before a U.S. military commission.  However, those charges were not made public until the New York Times obtained a copy of the charging document.   In fact, it appears that the Administration knew it was going to pursue charges against Daqduq, waited until he was released to Iraq, and then filed the charges, but failed to keep Congress apprised of its plans.


We have expressed a keen interest in Daqduq and in the Administration’s plans for him.  In May 2011, Attorney General Holder appeared before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Committee) and was specifically asked about prosecution plans for Daqduq.  We followed up with a letter to Attorney General Holder on May 16, 2011, again expressing concerns about, and interest in, how the Administration was going to prosecute Daqduq.  On July 29, 2011, another letter was sent to Secretary Panetta, seeking information about issues relating to Daqduq held by the Department of Defense.  Finally, on August 8, 2011, the Department of Justice responded through a letter from Ronald Weich that indicated the “ultimate disposition of this matter is under consideration by an interagency process that includes . . . the Department of Justice.”


Subsequently, Administration officials briefed Congress about Daqduq’s imminent release into Iraqi custody.  Yet, they never mentioned that the Administration was considering charges, which were filed approximately two weeks later.  Eight pages of charges, surely involving classified materials or evidence, would require more than two weeks to review, organize, and approve.  This appears to indicate that either the Administration was purposefully withholding information from Congress or it had not done the due diligence required to file charges in a serious case against a dangerous terrorist.  Furthermore, in the future, when the Administration claims that it is aggressively pursuing Daqduq, it will sound disingenuous since we know that he was only charged after he was released to another country.  If the Administration was serious in pursuing Daqduq, officials had many years when they could have brought charges against him, yet the Administration waited until he was not available to prosecute.


Now an Iraqi court has cleared Daqduq of any criminal charges under Iraqi law and, as we and many other observers had feared, may be set free without being held to account for his crimes against the United States and its soldiers.  As it appears Daqduq is on the verge of escaping justice, we again ask for information about the Administration’s plans for dealing with this situation.


Accordingly, provide the following information:


·         A copy of the military commission charging document filed against Daqduq;

·         A list of who was involved in this decision and who was the final decision-maker;

·         An explanation of when, if at all, the families of his U.S. victims were consulted about his prosecution;

·         An explanation of whether Daqduq has been notified of the U.S. charges against him;

·         A description of which components in the Administration have been, currently are, or expect to be involved in the Daqduq matter;

·         A description of efforts to have Daqduq transferred into U.S. custody after he was charged, including whether any formal extradition request was made to the Iraqi government;

·         A description of any conditions (such as transfer to a civilian court) required by the Iraqi government for extraditing Daqduq and the U.S. response to those conditions;

·         An explanation of where Daqduq is expected to be held, if he were transferred into U.S. custody;

·         A description of charges against Daqduq from any other country of which the Administration is aware;

·         A description of whether and how the Administration assisted in Daqduq’s prosecution by the Iraqi government;

·         An explanation of why briefers from the Administration failed to indicate that criminal charges were prepared but not presented to a military commission prior to turning Daqduq over to the Iraqi government.

·         An assessment of why the Iraqi prosecution of Daqduq failed, including any problems with the Iraqi court’s willingness or capability to consider valid evidence provided by the United States, such as forensic evidence and statements made while in U.S. custody;

·         A description of options the Administration is considering for next steps in the handling of Daqduq’s case; and,

·         A description of Administration discussions with the Iraqi government about next steps in the handling of Daqduq’s case.


Given the serious consequences that could result from Daqduq’s release from Iraqi custody and the important issues raised regarding future decisions to turn over detainees to foreign governments, we appreciate your response no later than May 25, 2012.



New Forms Help Iowans Who Represent Themselves in Small Claims Court PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Steve Davis   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:45

Des Moines, May 7, 2012—Iowans who choose to represent themselves in small claims court will find it easier to do so with the help of new, easy-to-use forms. The Iowa Supreme Court approved a large number of new forms to help Iowans navigate the ins and outs of a small claims court case, from beginning to end. The court also updated some existing forms by making them easier to understand and use.


"More and more people are going to court without the assistance of lawyers. Representing yourself is never an easy thing to do. However, the new forms should help," said Iowa Court of Appeals Judge David Danilson, who is co-chair of the committee that designed the forms. "These forms are all a person needs to complete a routine small claims case without the aid of a lawyer."


The small claim process is a low-cost, simple process for resolving civil disputes without going through extensive court proceedings. In a small claims case, a person can file a suit for nearly any civil claim against another party, such as for breach of contract, damages suffered in an accident, and landlord tenant disputes, so long as the claim is for $5000 or less. Small claims cases are tried before a judge, not a jury, and without strict regard to the technicalities of rules of procedure. More information about small claim procedures is available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at:


The new and updated forms may be used starting today. Lawyers and litigants currently using the old forms may continue to do so through June 30. Beginning July 1, 2012, the new forms must be used exclusively in all small claims cases. The forms are available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: .


# # #

A Dose of Reality on Judicial Nominations PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:23

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

On the Nominations of

Jacqueline Nguyen, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit;

Kristine Gerhard Baker, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas;

John Z. Lee, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois

Monday, May 7, 2012


Mr. President,


Today, the Senate is expected to confirm three additional judicial nominees.  With the confirmation of Judge Nguyen to the 9th Circuit, Ms. Baker to the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Mr. Lee to the Northern District of Illinois, we will have confirmed 83 judicial nominees during this Congress.


It is somewhat ironic that today, according to press accounts, the White House is holding  a forum and strategy session with administration officials  and 150 supporters from across the country concerned about the judicial vacancy rate.


I wonder if at this strategy session, the White House took a look in the mirror, when addressing the vacancy rate.  Only the President can make nominations to the Senate.  While we have a responsibility to advise and consent, Senators cannot nominate individuals to fill vacancies.  I would note the President has failed to do this in 47 of the 76 remaining vacancies, including 21 of 35 seats designated as judicial emergencies.  That is more than 60 percent of current vacancies with no nominee.


The White House and the Democrats in the Senate are fond of their claim that “millions of Americans” are living in districts with vacancies.  Of course, what the other side fails to tell you is that 88 million Americans live in judicial districts where vacancies exist because the President has failed to nominate judges.  Most of those seats have been vacant for more than a year.  Once again, if the White House is serious about judicial vacancies, it holds the key to nominations for those vacancies.  It has failed in too many instances, to use that key.


Furthermore, according to the press accounts, in its invitation, the White House accused Republicans of subjecting consensus nominees to "unprecedented delays and filibusters."  This is a statement without factual basis and ignores the record of judicial confirmations.


I would note that after today’s confirmations, there are 12 nominees on the executive calendar that might fall into the category of “consensus nominees.”  Seven nominees on the calendar had significant opposition in committee, and clearly are not consensus nominees.  The substantial majority of those 12 nominees were reported out of committee fewer than 10 legislative days ago.  Not only is there no filibuster against any of the consensus nominees, but I am not sure how there can be any accusation of delay.


Let me remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle of the obstructionism, delay and filibusters, which they perfected.  The history of President Bush’s nominees to the Ninth Circuit provides some examples.


President Bush nominated nine individuals to the Ninth Circuit.  Three of those nominations were filibustered.  Two of those filibusters were successful.  The nominations of Carolyn Kuhl and William Gerry Myers languished for years before being returned to the President.  A fourth nominee, Randy Smith waited over 14 months before finally being confirmed after his nomination was blocked and returned to the President.  After being renominated, he was finally confirmed by a unanimous vote.


President Obama, on the other hand, has nominated six individuals to the Ninth Circuit. Only one of those nominees was subject to a cloture vote.  After that vote failed, the nominee withdrew.  Today, we confirm the third nomination by President Obama to the Ninth Circuit.   Those three confirmations took an average of about 8 months from the date of nomination.  For all of President Obama’s Circuit nominees, the average time from nomination to confirmation is about 242 days.  For President Bush’s Circuit nominees, the average wait for confirmation was 350 days.  One might ask why President Bush was treated differently than this President.


Another example of past Democratic obstruction and delay is in Arkansas.  Today, we confirm President Obama’s nominee to the Eastern District of Arkansas within about six months of her nomination.  I would note that President Bush’s nominee, J. Leon Holmes, sat on the executive calendar for more than 14 months awaiting confirmation.  From nomination, his confirmation took over 17 months.  Again, why was President Bush’s nominee treated worse than this President’s nominee?


I can only conclude that the White House has selective memory, or a different definition, when it accuses Republicans of unprecedented delay and obstruction.  I am disappointed that the President continues to blame Republicans for vacancies which have no nominee and chooses to follow a political strategy of blaming, rather than working with the Senate to nominate consensus nominees.


I will put the remainder of my statement in the record which discusses the qualifications of today’s nominees.




Jacqueline Nguyen, presently serving as a United States District Judge, is nominated to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.  Judge Nguyen received her A.B. from Occidental College in 1987 and her J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1991. She began her legal career as an associate in the Litigation Department at the Los Angeles law firm of Musick, Peeler & Garrett where she handled litigation matters involving commercial disputes, intellectual property, and construction defects.  From 1995 until 2002, Judge Nguyen was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.  There, she handled the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking, immigration fraud, mail and tax fraud, and money laundering cases.  In 2000, Judge Nguyen became Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section.  In that position, she handled the training and supervision of all new Assistant U.S. Attorneys and various types of criminal cases involving violent crimes, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and fraud.


In 2002, Governor Gray Davis appointed Judge Nguyen to the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.  In 2009, she was nominated by President Obama to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California.  The Senate approved her nomination on December 1, 2009 by a vote of 97 –0.  In her capacity as a judge, she has presided over thousands of cases.


The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated her as Qualified for this position.


Kristine Gerhard Baker is nominated to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas.  Ms. Baker received her B.A. from St. Louis University in 1993 and her J.D. from University of Arkansas School of Law in 1996.  She served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Susan Webber Wright, then the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.  In 1998, she became an associate in the law firm Williams & Anderson, LLP where she handled commercial litigation cases involving breach of contract and fraud. In 2000, Ms. Baker joined the law firm Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow PLLC.  Her focus at the firm has been devoted to complex commercial litigation cases, including cases involving employment discrimination, securities violations, unfair competition, products liability, Fair Housing Act claims and Freedom of Information Act claims.  She has handled in administrative proceedings and in federal and state court claims for discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination as well as claims arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave her a substantial majority rating of Well Qualified and a minority Qualified.


John Z. Lee is nominated to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.  Mr. Lee received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1989 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1992. He began his legal career as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Environment & Natural Resources Division.  There he represented the United States in federal courts on issues primarily involving environmental statutes.  He also served as Special Assistant to the Counsel to former Attorney General Janet Reno.


In 1994, he left the public sector to take a job as an associate at Mayer Brown.  In 1996, he joined a new firm, Grippo & Elden, as an associate.  In 1999, he moved to his current firm, Freeborn & Peters.  There he made Income Partner in 2001 and Equity Partner in 2004.  In private practice, Mr. Lee has focused almost entirely on litigation, expanding his expertise to complex commercial disputes, including cases involving antitrust, intellectual property, employment and business tort issues.  Most of these cases were in federal courts, particularly the Seventh and Ninth Circuits.  He also represented clients in criminal investigations of antitrust and financial regulations violations.  In private practice, he represents public and private companies, individual businesspersons and low-income clients pro bono. He has an ABA rating of Substantial Majority Qualified, Minority Not Qualified.



Grassley Questions DEA about Detainment of CA College Student PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:06

Justice Department IG Expected to Investigate

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is pressing for answers in the alleged mistreatment and detainment by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of a University of California-San Diego student.

In a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, Grassley specifically asks about an investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General and the DEA’s cooperation with the Inspector General.   He also inquired about the DEA’s general detention policies and the detailed actions by the DEA in the case of the California student.

“Judging from the press reports, the Inspector General will have a lot to look into,” Grassley said.  “And, if the allegations are true, the DEA and its agents need to be held accountable for the treatment of this young man.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Here’s a copy of Grassley’s letter to Leonhart.


May 4, 2012

Via Electronic Transmission

The Honorable Michele Leonhart


Drug Enforcement Administration

700 Army Navy Drive, Room 12060

Arlington, VA 22202


Dear Administrator Leonhart,

I write today regarding reports of the alleged mistreatment of Daniel Chong, a University of California-San Diego college student, by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in San Diego.  If the reports are accurate that Mr. Chong was left for five days in a five-by-ten foot windowless cell without the basic human necessities of food, water, or a bathroom, the actions of the DEA raise serious and troubling questions.

According to media reports, Amy Roderick, a DEA spokeswoman states “seven suspects were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells.”  In the same article, Mr. Chong himself states that, from his cell, he heard occasional footsteps, doors opening and closing, and the sound of muffled voices and that he even saw shadows beneath the door.  If that is true, it is difficult for me to comprehend how no one could have heard what he says were his own repeated cries for help over his course of time in the cell.  I appreciate that Acting Special Agent-in-Charge William Sherman has expressed his “deepest apologies” to Mr. Chong and has willingly opened an internal investigation into the matter, but I am not sure that will be enough to put the matter to rest.

The physical and psychological trauma that Mr. Chong was subjected to because of the apparent neglect by the DEA is the most troubling to me.  The article asserts that Mr. Chong resorted to survival skills to stay alive and when he was eventually found he was immediately “taken to the hospital and treated for cramps, dehydration and a perforated lung – the result of ingesting some broken glass.”

As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I have a distinct responsibility in conducting oversight over the DEA.  Further, given the alleged actions give rise to serious constitutional violations; I would appreciate expeditious responses to the following questions.

·         What is DEA’s written policy on the detention of suspects at DEA facilities?  Please provide a copy of all relevant policy and training manuals that reference procedures for handling detainees in DEA custody at DEA facilities.

·         Is there a shift supervisor responsible for oversight of the facility and the detainees?

·         What are the policies and procedures of the facility for the handling of a detainee, from intake to discharge?

·         Is there a log system in place to maintain and track the detainees?  If yes, please explain the process.

·         Routinely, holding cells are monitored by surveillance cameras for the protection of both the detainee and the law enforcement official.  Is this technology available at the DEA facility?  If so, is someone responsible for monitoring the cameras?

·         Is there a system in place to indicate when someone is located inside a holding cell (ie. strobe light indicator)?

·         What was the reason that Mr. Chong was originally apprehended in the raid?  Was he interviewed or the subject of questioning?  If questioned and determined to be innocent, why was he returned to the holding cell instead of being released?

·         Was Mr. Chong searched for weapons and contraband before placing him in the holding cell?  Was the holding cell searched for weapons and contraband before receiving Mr. Chong?

·         Can you explain where the methamphetamines came from?  Was it inventoried as evidence or contraband on DEA records?  If so, please provide the chain-of-custody records for the methamphetamines found in the holding cell?

·         How would it have been possible for Mr. Chong to hear others in nearby rooms and for them not to have heard his reported cries for help?

·         Mr. Chong asserts that “when they opened the door, one of them said: ‘Here’s the water you’ve been asking for.”  How was Mr. Chong finally discovered?  Was Mr. Chong discovered by someone from the DEA?  Please provide a timeline showing the time when Mr. Chong was received into the county facility until the time he was discharged.

·         It is my understanding that the Department of Justice Inspector General (OIG) has initiated an investigation into the DEA’s conduct in this matter.  What if any contact has the DEA had with the OIG?  Will DEA cooperate with the OIG’s inquiry?

Thank you for your cooperation and attention to this important matter.  I look forward to your prompt response no later than May 11, 2012.


Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

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