• David A. Cmelik Law PLC

Iowa high court issues coronavirus order


The Iowa Supreme Court on Saturday issued new rules aimed at limiting the spread of the predicted coronavirus outbreak. Chief Justice Susan Larson Christensen issued the order, which took unprecedented steps to suspend some Constitutionally required deadlines in the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The United States Constitution, the Iowa Constitution, and the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure all require the Court to bring defendants to a speedy and public trial. The Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure and Iowa Supreme Court precedents have interpreted that to include indictments within 45 days of initial appearance, trial within 90 days of indictment, and in any event trial no later than one year from the date of "initial arraignment"-- unless "for good cause shown."

The Iowa Supreme Court found on Saturday, March 14, 2020, that the coronavirus outbreak constituted such "good cause."

All new criminal jury trials-- which include Operating While Intoxicated, or, drunk driving OWI trials-- must be delayed to dates no earlier than April 20. Grand juries are suspended until after April 20.

Persons charged with criminal offenses who are ordered to personally appear before the Magistrate may waive personal appearance in writing by submitting an affidavit affirming knowledge of all notices required during such appearances.

For any proceeding typically requiring the personal presence of victims, witnesses, counsel, and defendant, the District Court may at its discretion allow video conferencing with the consent of the Defendant.

The Court also authorized the written submission of felony guilty pleas-- written guilty pleas are usually reserved for less severe misdemeanor offenses.

Criminal prosecution is stressful for our clients already. Criminal prosecution in the time of the coronavirus requires diligence and an understanding of the litigation tools available to us. We are studying this order to find ways to assist our clients and assure you that every step will be taken to zealously advocate for our clients.

If you or a loved one have recently arrested for OWI, or, Operating While Intoxicated, or other criminal offense in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or other Iowa community, contact us for an initial consultation. We will make special accommodations consistent with Centers for Disease Control social distancing recommendations to protect you and your family.

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