Judiciary Committee – Week 6, 2022


SSB 3021 – Additional attorney in indigent wrongful conviction cases

SSB 3021 – Under normal circumstances, an indigent person is entitled to one attorney in all cases. In Class A felony cases, the court may appoint an additional attorney. This bill would allow the court to also appoint an additional attorney where a state public defender from the wrongful convictions division is appointed. The previously appointed indigent defense/private attorney would continue representation; however, wrongful conviction cases require specific expertise in complex forensic evidence cases.
[2/15: short form]

SSB 3024 – Correcting terminology and increasing Iowa drug policy advisory council membership

SSB 3024 adds the state public defender and a police chief appointed by the governor to the Iowa Drug Policy Advisory Council, bringing total membership from 15 to 17. The bill also updates terminology surrounding drug control policy, particularly to change “abuse” to “use disorder” and “narcotics” to “drug.”
[2/15: short form]

SF 2111 – Exception to the search warrant requirements for garbage searches

SF 2111 states explicitly that the public policy of Iowa is that citizens have no reasonable expectation of privacy for garbage in publicly accessible areas. Political subdivisions may only regulate waste management and sanitation for the purpose of public health and cleanliness; they may not be construed as a reasonable expectation of privacy. Peace officers may search such garbage without a search warrant.

In a 4-3 decision last year, the Iowa Supreme Court held that an Iowa citizen has a reasonable expectation of privacy in trash placed outside the home in opaque bags in jurisdictions where it is illegal for anyone but sanitation workers to handle their garbage. The dissent noted that this put Iowa’s constitutional protection standards above the standards for the 4th Amendment.
[2/15: short form]

SF 2091 – Disqualifying felons on probation and registered sex offenders from jury service

SF 2091 disqualifies felons under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, Judicial District Department of Correctional Services or Board of Parole from serving on a jury. It also disqualifies registered sex offenders from serving on a jury.
[2/15: short form]

SSB 3016 – Allowing hearsay testimony in certain abuse cases and updating spousal privilege

SSB 3016 allows testimony by the victim or another about statements made outside of the court in certain circumstances. First, the statement must concern the occurrence of a qualifying offense against a child or person with a disability. Second, there are certain notification requirements to the defense. Third, the court must find that the statement’s timing, content and circumstances provide sufficient reliability. Fourth, the victim must testify at trial.

The bill updates the spousal privilege. Generally, spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, and either spouse can invoke the privilege. This bill codifies exceptions in which a spouse can testify against the other.
[2/15: short form]

SSB 3083 – Allowing corporations to send notices by email with permission

SSB 3083 allows a corporation to use email addresses to provide notices to shareholders. It also provides that shareholders can object to receiving information and notices by email and receive the correspondence by other means. Currently, the shareholder must give affirmative permission for notice by email; after this legislation, they will have to actively “opt out.” The bill also makes several grammatical corrections and terminology updates.
[2/15: short form]

SF 241 – Closing the loophole for exhibiting obscene material for minors

SF241 will make it a crime for any parent or guardian who has been convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for any registrable sex offense against a minor to disseminate or exhibit obscene material to their child or children. 
[2/15: short form]

SF 2173 – Adding simulated firearms and explosives to most dangerous weapons definitions

SF 2173 defines simulated firearms and explosives and adds their employment to the definitions of intimidation and robbery in the first degree. One who displays a simulated firearm or explosive capable of being shot, thrown, launched or discharged into a building or vehicle occupied by another, or into a crowd commits intimidation.

Depending on intent, this may be a Class C or Class D felony. Without this bill, such action would likely be aggravated misdemeanor assault. One who commits robbery armed with a simulated firearm commits first degree robbery, a Class B felony. Without this bill, it is second degree robbery, a Class C felony. This amendment does a simple find for “dangerous weapon” throughout the criminal code and adds “or simulated firearm.”
[2/15: short form (No: Bolkcom, Petersen)]

SF 2159 – Adding social workers to the definition of health care provider for assault offenses

SF 2159 adds social workers to the definition of “health care provider” in the chapter on assault. Under current law, there are penalties specific to assaults on certain professions, such as peace officers, firefighters, and health care providers. The licensing and registration requirements in the health care provider definition included doctors, nurses, physician assistant, etc., but not social workers; however, as social workers are vital to the functioning of hospitals generally and emergency rooms in particular, this bill would protect them as any other health care provider in the hospital.
[2/15: short form]

SSB 3109 – Code Editor’s Bill (substantive)

[2/15: short form]

SSB 3110 – Code Editor’s Bill (non-substantive)

[2/15: short form]

SSB 3060 – Probate indigent defense fees and trial transcript fees

SSB 3060 adds the cost of the trial transcript to the assessment against the county for indigent counsel costs in a guardianship/conservatorship. It is part of the Judicial Branch’s affirmative legislative agenda. Right now, some counties are refusing to cover this cost, and indigent counsel pays out of pocket.
[2/16: short form]

SF 2090 – Pretrial bond amounts for certain felonies

SF 2090 instructs a court setting bond to give “significant consideration” to the danger posed by the defendant if released. If bond is set, it instructs the court to set bond at the following schedule:

Felony                                                        Bond
Class A felony                                   $500,000
Class B forcible felony                      $25,000
Class C forcible felony                      $10,000
Class D forcible felony                       $5,000

The presumption remains rebuttable by a showing from the defendant that they are not a danger if released, and the determination is reviewable by superior courts.
[2/16: short form]

SF 513 (formerly SF395) makes certain crisis intervention reports created by law enforcement confidential. A report that relates to a person experiencing a mental health crisis, substance-related disorder crisis or housing crisis, generated to provide crisis intervention information to assist peace officers with de-escalating conflicts, referring to treatment providers or to service providers, must remain confidential. The report must be available to the person who is the subject of the report and may be provided to the treatment provider in connection with the referral by law enforcement but cannot not be considered peace officers’ investigative reports.
[2/16: short form]

SSB 3091 –UCC update for cryptocurrencies and securities

SSB 3091 is part of the Iowa State Bar Association’s affirmative agenda and brought by the Business Law Section. It mirrors language expected to be adopted by the Uniform Law Commission. The bill regulates digital assets (i.e., cryptocurrency, Bitcoin) by moving their designation from “general intangibles” to “controlled accounts.” The goal is to treat these assets more like negotiable instruments. Right now, a creditor can perfect an interest in a specific controlled account (i.e., a specific bitcoin). If the owner of the account transfers it to another, the creditor still has an interest in that account. As such, the new owner is burdened without agreeing to assume the debt. What this bill will do is allow possession or control to trump a filed interest. That will mean that the buyer of an account/bitcoin will know it is not encumbered.
[2/16: short form]

SSB 3111 – Update to trust notices

SSB 3111 extends the protection against creditors offered by existing trust notices and existing probate notices to wills probated without present administration. Creditors can still submit their claims, but they have to do it within four months and have to go after the trust, not the estate, that isn’t being probated.
[2/16: short form]

SSB 3012 – Banning traffic cameras 

SSB 3012 prohibits the use of automated or remote systems for traffic law enforcement by state and local authorities. It immediately bans the placement of new systems and the sharing of information among the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety with local authorities to enforce penalties from violations. Finally, it requires existing systems to be removed by July 2022.
[2/16: 9-6 (No: Bisignano, Bolkcom, Boulton, Dawson, Kinney, Petersen)]

SF 2198 – “Obscene” materials in schools

SF 2198 provides a new definition of hard-core pornography. It requires one administrator at every school to “ensure” there are no “bad” books in their library. It prohibits teachers and administrators from disseminating “hard-core pornography” and requires their teaching licensure be revoked as mandatory prosecution of criminal charges against them by the county attorney where the school is located. If the county attorney doesn’t believe charges are warranted , they have to bring them or be fined $1,000 a day that they don’t.
[2/16: 10-5, party line]

SSB 3025 – Sex offender registry extensions

SSB 3025 extends the period of time a sex offender must be on the registry before they can apply for a modification. The period for Tier I offenders is extended from at least two years to at least 10 years; Tier II and III go from five to 15 years. The requirement to have no criminal convictions in the previous 10 or 15 years excludes simple misdemeanors and up to serious misdemeanor traffic violations.
[2/16: short form (No: Bolkcom)]

SF 2226 – Accusations are adequate for convictions, and sentences should be longer

SF 2226, by Republican Senate President Jake Chapman, would limit a defendant’s ability to mount a defense. The bill also increases the number of offenses that qualify for mandatory minimums and the minimum sentences for those felonies and misdemeanors. It does some arguably good things for victims’ rights. Also, wide swaths of it are likely unconstitutional.

Division I: Communications

The bill redefines “exculpatory information” for the purposes of discovery of privileged information. “Exculpatory” would only include information that tends to prove innocence, but it would no longer included “merely impeaching” or “substantially cumulative” information. The privilege continues to extend only to legal and medical professionals as well as clergy. This is likely unconstitutional.

Division II: Permanent No-Contact Orders

The bill makes entry of no-contact orders related to juvenile justice, elder abuse, sex abuse, domestic abuse, divorce or victim rights presumptively permanent without expiration. It establishes a procedure for victims to dissolve the no-contact order. It establishes a procedure for the defendant to dissolve the no-contact order no sooner than five years after the conviction, and never if later convicted of a new indictable offense.

The bill allows victims to demand any expired permanent no-contact order to be reinstated if it previously expired. Current no-contact orders must be converted to non-expiring upon application of the victim. This is probably unconstitutional.

The bill prohibits challenging the no-contact orders by any means but the process outlined. Appeals may only be reviewed by writ of certiorari and is not appealable as a matter of right.

The bill makes explicit that domestic abuse assault no-contact orders are permanent and without expiration.

The bill makes legislative findings that insist this isn’t a second punishment in violation of the Constitution but rather about “collateral relief” and “protection for the victim.” Finally, it repeals the extension of the no-contact order.

Division III: Domestic Abuse Assault Penalties

The bill repeals the statute of limitations on repeat domestic abuse offenses. Currently, a conviction more than 12 years old does not count toward the subsequent offense count.

Division IV: Sexual Offenses

The bill expands the list of sexual offenses to include continuous sexual abuse of a child (709.23), kidnapping 1st that results in sexual abuse (710.2) and Burglary 1st that includes sexual abuse (713.3). 

Division V: Sentencing and Corrections

The bill instructs the court to ask the victim if they’ve been informed of the status of their case, recommendation for sentencing and opportunity to provide a victim impact statement.

The bill requires consecutive sentencing when two or more acts are mandatory minimum felonies and at least one offense is sex abuse or kidnapping.

The bill alters minimum sentences for the minimum sentence felonies under 902.12: Class B, no less than one year; Class C, no less than two months; and Class D, no less than one month.

The bill alters the minimum sentence felonies under 902.12. The person will not be eligible for parole or work release until they serve at least 90% of their sentence. The felonies under minimum sentencing guidelines will now include all felonies under Chapters 707 (homicide and related), 708 (assault), 708A (terrorism), 709 (sexual abuse), 710 (kidnapping), 710A (human trafficking excluding solicitation), 711 (robbery and related), 712 (arson), 713 (burglary excluding 3rd degree), 723A (gangs) and 728 (obscenity). The bill makes explicit that it is not retroactive.

The bill establishes minimum sentences for misdemeanor convictions under 902.12: aggravated misdemeanors, no less than 14 days; serious misdemeanors, no less than seven days; simple misdemeanors, no less than two days.

The bill prohibits “earned time” for all 902.12 offenses. The fiscal note on this division alone should kill the bill.

Division VI: Parole and work release

The bill allows work release only when it would be in the best interest of society, any victim and the person, and only when the board believes there’s a “significant” probability that there will be no detriment to the community, any victim or to the person. The bill prohibits the board from reviewing any person more often than every six months.

The bill requires that all parole hearings are recorded and public for a minimum of three years from the date of the hearing or most recent release of the person.

The bill strikes the purpose of the board from controlling the prison population and assuring space for the most violent offenders to only considering the best interest of society, any victim and the person.

Division VII: Victims’ Rights

The bill requires local law enforcement to distribute victim’s rights pamphlets.

The bill requires local law enforcement to provide contact data to the Department of Justice, and to have a victim counselor contact the victim.

The bill creates a public policy presumption of validity to statements made by children to forensic interviewers. It requires courts to admit recorded statements if all of the following are true: 1) a child is describing sexual abuse, 2) they were collected by forensic interviewers, 3) the interviews were “conducted substantially in accordance with a nationally recognized protocol for interviewing children,” 4) it is offered in a criminal proceeding with the defendant having 10-days’ notice; and either a) the child testifies, b) the child has been deposed by the defense, c) the child is unavailable, or d) the court finds there would be significant trauma if required to appear. The court may only deny such a recording by clear and convincing evidence of unreliability.

The statements may be partially redacted by agreement of the parties, or by court order if necessary to minimize the embarrassment or trauma or to effectuate rules of evidence other than hearsay.

The bill extends rape shield protections to any questioning of any victim covered by Rule 5.412.

The bill requires all attorneys to take one annual continuing education credit on crime victims and improving their experience within the criminal justice system.

Division VIII: Discovery

The bill severely limits a defendant’s ability to subpoena records. The prosecuting attorney need not execute or effectuate it in any way. The defendant must share any subpoena results within 24 hours.

The bill eliminates discovery depositions except in exceptional circumstances. The defendant must file a witness list at the earliest of requesting or receiving any discretionary discovery, date of any deposition or 10 days before trial. The court will prohibit any witness outside of a timely witness list unless good cause is shown. Much of this division will likely be unconstitutional.

Division IX: Postconviction relief and discovery procedure

The bill severely limits post-conviction relief discovery for defendants. Provisions are similar to discovery changes above.

Division X: Required Reports to the Legislature

The bill requires district judges to collect and report data on the number of deferred judgments and sentences, suspended sentences, the number of defendants receiving those, the number of cases where an individual is sentenced after failing to comply with the deferred judgment/sentence, the number of cases where a suspended sentence was revoked, and the types of violations of deferred conditions.

The bill requires an annual recidivism report for 902.12 minimum sentence offenses, including the rate of recidivism within three years of release, percentage of parolees violating parole, number of victims in parole violation offenses, types of offenses in recidivism, type of release and number of hearings the board held before that release.
[2/16: 10-5, party line]