Animal-welfare group asks judge to consider heavy fines and jail in Cricket Hollow case

BY: - January 25, 2021

The animal-welfare organization that’s battling the owners of Iowa’s Cricket Hollow Zoo are asking the court to fine the owners roughly $50,000 and consider jailing the couple for up to six months if they are found guilty of contempt of court. The two owners of the now-shuttered zoo, Pamela and Thomas Sellner of Manchester, are […]


Iowa lawmaker proposes allowing the Legislature to overrule the Supreme Court

BY: - January 25, 2021

Most elementary-school students are taught that the American system of government has three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. These branches are co-equal and each serves as a check and balance to the others’ power. Some of our state legislators may have been playing hooky when that came up in social studies class. Members of the […]


Trump’s big gamble to gut U.S. power plant emissions rules loses in court, opening a door for new climate rules

BY: - January 24, 2021

Joe Biden got a big judicial win for his climate agenda just hours before his inauguration as U.S. president. The case involved federal plans for cutting power plant emissions and a big gamble by the Trump administration. Nearly a third of the U.S. carbon emissions driving climate change come from electricity generation. To try to […]

Former prosecutor accused of harassment faces new hurdles to regaining law license

BY: - January 21, 2021

The Van Buren County prosecutor who was removed from office for what the Iowa Supreme Court called “shocking and repeated displays of sexual harassment” has failed to comply with requirements for reinstatement of his law license, according to court records. A district court judge removed Abraham Watkins from his post as county attorney in January […]

Public defender disciplined for ‘explicit’ jailhouse conversations

BY: - January 20, 2021

A state public defender has received a public reprimand for misusing his status as an attorney to engage in intimate conversations with a jail inmate. Records of the Iowa Supreme Court’s Attorney Disciplinary Board indicate the girlfriend of Des Moines attorney and public defender Tomas Rodriguez was arrested in October 2019 on drug and theft […]

Zoo attorney argues a finding of guilt would warrant no more than a $100 fine

BY: - January 19, 2021

The attorney representing the operators of eastern Iowa’s Cricket Hollow Zoo said his clients never violated a court order pertaining to their animals, but if they did, a fine of $100 would be appropriate. Pamela and Thomas are Sellner of Manchester are accused of contempt of court for allegedly violating a judge’s 2019 order requiring […]

House panels advance constitutional amendments on abortion, gun rights

BY: - January 19, 2021

Proposals to amend Iowa’s constitution to restrict state courts’ authority over abortion and firearms cases are advancing in the Iowa House. In back-to-back meetings with limited debate, three-member subcommittees of the House Judiciary and House Public Safety committees each voted 2-1 to advance proposed constitutional amendments to the full committees for debate. Neither proposal is […]


Is impeaching President Trump ‘pointless revenge’? Not if it sends a message to future presidents

BY: - January 16, 2021

A House majority, including 10 Republicans, voted on Jan. 13 to impeach President Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” The vote will initiate a trial in the Senate — but that trial will likely not be finished before Trump’s term of office comes to an end on Jan. 20. There is an open constitutional question about […]

Reynolds’ ‘Back the Blue’ bill already faces opposition from Black Lives Matter

BY: - January 14, 2021

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposed bill to increase penalties for those who attack the police has yet to be introduced at the Statehouse, but it’s already facing strong opposition from Des Moines leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. In her Condition of the State address, Reynolds said cities such as Minneapolis, Portland and New York […]

Iowa Senate panel advances death penalty legislation

BY: - January 14, 2021

Several crime victims and their advocates joined more than a dozen other Iowans who spoke Thursday against a legislative proposal to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa. Clinton native Christy Wolfe’s two younger sisters, Susan and Sarah, were killed by a neighbor in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2014.  She read a statement from their mother, who […]

Chief justice highlights child welfare priorities in first Condition of the Judiciary speech

BY: - January 13, 2021

In her first Condition of the Judiciary message, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen introduced herself as “Suzy,” disclosed that she used to be called the “Cookie Judge,” and described her two main post-COVID priorities for Iowa’s court system, both of which involve keeping children with their families. It was a speech far different […]

Former Trump chief of staff: Feds beefing up security at statehouses, U.S. Capitol

BY: - January 12, 2021

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Tuesday said federal officials are amassing the kind of “just in case” police force they needed when riots broke out Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, but still are concerned about the safety of the nation’s statehouses. “You can tell they’re very concerned about Inauguration Day,” […]