Jan. 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

District 6 Court Judge for the State of Iowa Fae Hoover-Grinde proves to be one of the best in the district.


Judge Hoover-Grinde has knowledge and application of law that ranks higher than average in her district, along with her perception of factual issues. She remains attentive to arguments and testimony, according to her top three rank in the district for that category. She ranks the highest in the district for: her temperament and demeanor while in court, avoiding undue personal observations or criticisms, remaining courteous and patient with litigants, lawyers and court personnel, and treats equally in her court regardless of race, gender, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or disability. She was appointed this position in 2004 and retained in 2014 for a term that expires on December 31, 2020, due to her outstanding job within the courtroom.

Chapter 3: Civil Cases

A Guide for Journalists

Not criminal prosecutions fall under the general heading of civil cases, which generally falls under one of the five types:

  1. Civil lawsuits for money damages
  2. Dissolution of marriage (divorce)
  3. Probate, including guardianships and conservatorships, and estates
  4. Involuntary commitment proceedings, both for mental impairment and substance abuse
  5. Adoptions

Dissolution of marriage are discussed in another chapter.

Civil Lawsuits for Money Damages:

Which court will have jurisdiction over a civil lawsuit for money damages depends on the dollar value of the damages sought. If less than $5,000.00 then it’s filed in a small claims court. These small claims courts were designed to seek monetary recovery without the need to hire a lawyer. While lawyers may represent parties in small claims actions, it’s more common without counsel. There is no right to a jury in a small claims- the case is decided by the magistrate or district associate judge alone. If claim is not a small claim, it is filed as more formal, traditional-looking lawsuit in district court. The Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure prohibit a plaintiff from seeking a specific dollar amount of damages and parties to non-small claims have the option of requesting a trial by jury. In a civil trial there are only eight jurors, and only seven of those eight must agree on a verdict for liability and monetary damages. The trial process, including discovery, is essentially the same for civil cases as for criminal cases. In a civil case, the standard is proof by a certainty, the “preponderance” standard only requires the slightest tipping of the balance one way or the other (a 50.1 percent certainty). Compensatory damages are those specifically calculated to compensate the plaintiff for loss caused by the defendant. Punitive damages are those designed to punish the defendant in the hopes that this type of behavior will not occur again in the future.


This is the general category for administering the person and/or property of an individual who cannot take care of those matters him/herself, either through death or disability. Estates of the deceased, guardianships and conservatorships all concern the estates of living persons; all meaning probate. A guardianship is a judicial proceeding in which the court appoints an individual to be the guardian over a person, known as the ward, who can no longer take care of himself or herself. A conservatorship is a judicial proceeding in which the court appoints an individual to be the conservator over the finances and assets of a person (ward) who can no longer take care of such matters himself or herself.

Involuntary Commitment Proceedings:

There are two types of involuntary commitment proceedings- those alleging that a person is seriously mentally impaired and those alleging that a person is a substance abuser as defined by statute. At times, both petitions will be filed against a party at the same time. To initiate these proceedings, two individuals with personal knowledge of the proposed ward’s actions must sign affidavits with the clerk of court.


The most common type of adoption is a step-parent adoption, where a natural parent has died or where the natural parent consents to the adoption of the child by the other natural parent’s new spouse. But third-party adoptions are also common.

Case Review: Jesse Marzen Client-Sex Scandal

Case Review: Carol and Richard Mauer Divorce

Ed Thomas Documentary


The documentary highlighted his achievements with creating pro-football players from small town Evansdale, Iowa and his remarkable ability to keep the football team a team, even outside of the football field; such as helping put the town back together after the tornado took away most of it. How much he created young men out of high schoolers, and impacted the town with his love for coaching, his family and his faith. When his life was taken by one of the students, Mark Becker, the documentary touched on the shooter and how the shooters family responded but even more so, how Ed Thomas’ family forgave and prayed for the shooter and his family.

Mark Becker was diagnosed as schizophrenic and when he confessed to killing Ed Thomas he said his actions were “killing Satan” to set himself “free of Satan.” The prosecutors proved that Mark Becker’s actions that day that he killed Ed Thomas were intentional, planned, practiced, executed and then admitted to. Which makes him guilty of murder in the first degree; his actions were proven beyond reasonable doubt and evident of malice of forethought.

Mark Becker was sentenced to life in prison and the jury didn’t grant him the insanity plea.

Ed Thomas is still remembered as a legacy; the Evansdale football field honored in his name.

HOMEWORK: Read the Iowa Supreme Court opinion on the Mark Becker trial (go to Supreme Court opinions archive- the date is July 20, 2012) and take notes over the opinions marked in the file.



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