all the Court Rule Changes?
Year 2015 in Review—Plus Early 2016
By Timothy S. Eckley, Assistant
Counsel to the Chief Justice
You have to learn the rules of
the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. Albert Einstein
Iowa Supreme Court's process of amending the Iowa Court Rules is necessarily an
ongoing effort due in large part to the many requests for updates from bar
members and the public. Even so, the Iowa
Supreme Court is sensitive to the burden a barrage of rule changes may impose
on attorneys and court users. For this
reason, the court is solicitous in its effort to develop and maintain current,
accurate, and useful court rules.
Iowa Court Rules and forms govern practice and procedure, judicial
administration, professional regulation, and judicial qualifications and
conduct. The 41 chapters of rules, not
including the pending chapter 16 rules for electronic filing, comprise more
than 1000 pages and 269 separate court forms. The Legislative Services Agency
publishes the official version of the Iowa Court Rules and maintains current
rules on the Iowa Legislature website at:
simple changes to a court rule or form can involve long and laborious processes.
It is the court's practice to submit proposed rule changes for public comment.
The court carefully considers all comments received, and often the particular
committee or entity that proposed the rule change reviews and responds to the
comments. The court does not adopt all
proposed rule changes.
court circulates orders for each proposed rule change and adoption of each rule
change widely through the Iowa Judicial Branch subscription service and by
direct email to bar family and interested groups. The court orders that implement the rules
provide a summary of the amendments, but thoroughly reviewing the change is
necessary for completely understanding it.
the justice system and responding to legislative enactments are two main sources
of new rules. For example, creation of
the expedited civil action is an innovation responsive to the demands of court
users, and finalizing the electronic filing rules in new chapter 16 is necessary
to navigating Iowa's first in the nation comprehensive electronic filing
system. Other new rules or rule
amendments emanate from suggestions from judges, attorneys, and clerks of
court. Some rule or form changes may not
be substantive but are necessary to clarify language to avoid misinterpretation
or to include more plain English to assist the increasing numbers of
self-represented litigants using the court system and to further alleviate
access to justice concerns.
2015, the court adopted updates to several rules and forms with input from Iowa
judges, attorneys, advisory committees, educators, bar associations, and the
public. Attorneys are encouraged to stay
abreast of new rules and amendments to maintain the requisite level of
competent service for their clients. Below
is a list and brief description of changes to the Iowa Court Rules during 2015,
including a few from early 2016. The
court orders and rule changes are available in full on the Iowa Judicial Branch
website under the tabs "Court Rules and Forms—Recent Amendments & New Iowa
Basic skills course requirement—rule 41.12 (January 21,
2015). The rule change eliminates the
Basic Skills Course attendance requirement for all persons admitted to practice
law in Iowa after 2014.
Discovery rules and forms—rules 1.500, .507, .906, and forms
2 and 3 of rule 23.5 (April 1, 2015).
The amendments include an exemption of domestic
relations proceedings from the new discovery conference and trial scheduling
requirements, an adjustment to the signature block on the trial scheduling and discovery plan
forms, and clarification of the deadline for pretrial submissions on trial
scheduling and discovery plan forms.
Court interpreters and translators—rules 47.7(1) and 47.8(6)
and Canon 1 to chapter 48 Code of Conduct (May 18, 2015). The amendment extends the deadline for annual
report filing for interpreters to begin in 2017, and clarifies the comment to
Canon 1—Accuracy and Completeness in the interpreter's and translator's code of
Registration of foreign house counsel—rule 31.16 (May 18,
2015). The amendments define "foreign
lawyer" and provide a process for foreign lawyers to register as house counsel
Reinstatement of license after revocation—rule 35.14 (May
18, 2015). The amendments outline a
procedure for an attorney whose license has been revoked or an attorney who has
been disbarred to apply for reinstatement after a period of five years and upon
meeting certain requirements.
Trial scheduling and discovery plans—rule
23.5, forms 2 and 3 (September 25, 2015).
The amendments assist attorneys and clerks of court in
using the forms to set pretrial deadlines for discovery matters and reflect the
practice of judicial districts that do not provide precise trial dates until
after parties have held their discovery conference. Parties unable to provide specific dates for
deadlines may fill in blank text fields for pretrial and discovery time frames.
Professional conduct—chapter 32 (October 15, 2015). The amendments update chapter 32 to remain
consistent with the Model Rules of Conduct and to maintain uniformity with the
rules of other jurisdictions providing attorneys familiarity with the ethical
rules of other jurisdictions where they may practice.
Shorthand reporter certification by reciprocity—chapter 46
(October 15, 2015). The amendments,
including primarily new rule 46.17, expand on the veterans' reciprocity rule to
provide a general rule of reciprocity of licensure for other persons who hold
valid reporting licenses in good standing in other states.
Bar Examination—chapter 31 (October 15, 2015). The
court adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) as the examination for
admission to the Iowa bar beginning in February 2016. The amendments to chapter 31 governing
admission to the bar incorporate the UBE into Iowa's bar admissions process.
Professional regulation—omnibus amendments to division III
(November 20, 2015). The amendments
are to numerous chapters in Division III—Professional Regulation.
Effective date for required death or disability plan—rule 39.18
(January 15, 2016). The
amendment sets January 1, 2017, as the effective date for new rule
39.18—Requirement for Death and Disability Plan.
Electronic filing in the appellate courts (January 21, 2016). Beginning February 1, 2016, all appeals will
be filed through EDMS with the Iowa Supreme Court's Clerk's office.
Professional regulation—chapters 34,
35, & 36 (January 26, 2016).
A recompilation strikes the original chapters and reorganizes the Iowa
Supreme Court Grievance Commission and Attorney Disciplinary Board
administrative provisions and rules of procedure.
to watch for in 2016.
Other noteworthy items the court anticipates addressing during 2016
include a restyling (nonsubstantive) of the rules of evidence, finalization of the
electronic filing rules (chapter 16), implementation of a fee for admission pro
hac vice, and further adjustments to the expedited civil action rule and forms.
information regarding changes to the Iowa Court Rules is available on the Court
Rules & Forms section of the Iowa Judicial Branch website, located at: http://www.iowacourts.gov/Court_Rules__Forms/Recent_Amendments__New_Iowa_Court_Rules/.