From the President . . .

Bridget Penick, president

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.

“The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”

Bart Giamatti so perfectly expressed the heartache that is major league baseball in October (at least for all of us non-Cubs midwestern baseball fans!). Playoff season means autumn is here! Kids are back in the swing of school. Sports fans flip channels to enjoy (and bemoan) college football, the NFL, and post-season major league baseball all at the same time. Pumpkin patches, bonfires, hayrides, and sweater weather make so many people content.

This autumn is particularly important for the Polk County Bar Association and our members. If you join us for our next luncheon on October 11, you’ll find out more about the upcoming judicial retention election from Guy Cook, one of the leaders of the judicial retention efforts in recent years. Several Polk County judges are up for retention. Read more . . .


State Bar recommends all judges and justices be retained

The Iowa State Bar Association is recommending that voters retain all of the judges and justices up for a retention vote in the Nov. 8 election based on the results of its biennial review.

The ISBA has conducted a judicial performance review every two years since 1962 when Iowa adopted its merit system for selecting judges. The review is designed to give voters information on which to base their decisions about keeping a judge in office. This year, a total of 1,495 attorneys rated the competence of the judges and justices using a five-point scale. Qualities respondents considered include knowledge of the law, clarity and quality of written opinions, promptness of decisions, demeanor, and fairness. The complete Judicial Performance Review, including biographies of each judge or justice, are available now at


Get the inside political scoop on Election Day

goldfordJoin us on Election Day – Tuesday, November 8 – at noon for our monthly luncheon where our speaker will be Professor Dennis Goldford, political science department chair, at Drake University. Professor Goldford has agreed to spend a little time with us between his appearances on KCCI Channel 8 to provide commentary on the election.

The luncheon will be held at the Iowa State Bar Association Conference Center, 625 East Court Avenue in Des Moines. We expect a large crowd, so please make your reservation early (or no later than Thursday, Nov. 3). Please note that seating is limited and we may not be able to accommodate walk ins.

Click here to download the reservation form or call Sonja Diener at 243-3904. Please be sure to indicate whether you would like the vegetarian lunch option.


Lottery planned for mental health/substance abuse appointments

The Polk County Clerk of Court will once again have a random lottery so all attorneys will have an equal chance of receiving adult mental health/substance abuse appointments in 2017. From November 1, beginning at 8 a.m., through November 18 at 4:30 p.m., attorneys may either visit the Clerk’s office, located at 222 5th Polk County Justice Center, to place their name on a list or they may e-mail LaRae DeMoss, at The list will be generated in the order that you have signed in or when your email was received, not in alphabetical order. Click here for a letter with complete details.


Notice of Judicial vacancy

There will be a District Court Judgeship vacancy in Election District SC as a result of the resignation of the Honorable Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger. Anyone wishing to be appointed to this position must be an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Iowa, a resident of the Judicial District SC, and be able to complete the initial and one regular term of office prior to reaching age 72. The regular term of a District Court Judge is six years.

Judicial Application forms must be obtained from Sherrie Schuck, Office of the District Court Administrator, Room 409, Polk County Courthouse, Des Moines,Iowa. Do not use an application form obtained from any other source or in any other manner. Click here for complete details and click here for a list of Judicial Nominating Commission members.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 4 p.m.


calendarGet those CLEs at our Nov. 18 seminar

Mark you calendar now and plan to attend our Fall General Practice CLE on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel. This event is free for current members, (there is a nominal charge for the printed materials). We anticipate approval for 7.5 State CLE hours, including 1 hour of Ethics and 2 hours of Federal. Among the topics to be explored are Baaken Oil Pipeline: A legal perspective; Federal Practice; Worker’s Compensation; Criminal Law; and Appellate Case Law. Click here for complete details and a reservation form.


Spring CLE materials are available online

Some 235 PCBA members gathered at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott on April 29 to network and stay on top of their profession at the Spring general practice seminar. As always, the CLE provided a full day of thought-provoking presentations covering a wide array of topics pertinent to the practice of law in Iowa. The program, which was offered FREE to members, was approved for 7.75 hours of State CLE credit, including 1 hour Ethics and 3.75 hours Federal.. Click here to download. (Member log-in required.)


Winning Law Day contest students honored at luncheon

The Polk County Bar Association (PCBA) and ARAG® once again co-sponsored the annual Law Day Competition for students in grades K-5 and 6-12 in the Polk County metro area. This year’s theme was Miranda: More Than Words, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. Participating students were encouraged to explore the importance of the Miranda warning to protect every citizen’s right to remain silent (self-incrimination, 5th Amendment) and the right to an attorney (6th amendment) during police interrogations through visual arts, music, essay and poetry. Elementary school students participated in a coloring and poster contest.

The winning students were honored at our Law Day luncheon which featured guest speaker Judy Bradshaw, former Des Moines chief of police and current director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Click here to learn more.


Get the updated Polk County Courts phone chart right here

The latest Polk County Court phone chart is now available and we have it here on our website for you! Click here to download the new chart, which includes the new law clerks and three new judicial specialists. Member login required.


Have you renewed your PCBA membership?

One of the best things you can do for your career is to belong to the Polk County Bar Association. Your PCBA membership entitles you to FREE CLE seminars to sharpen your skills, monthly luncheons to explore current issues, access to the court-sponsored mediation program, news and information you can’t get anywhere else, discounts on programs and services, and much, much more. Click here to learn more and to download the renewal form.

And, as a bonus, first-time PCBA members and those who renew their membership for 2016 are entitled to attend one of our informative and timely PCBA Luncheons on us – FREE of CHARGE – No strings attached! If you have questions about your membership, contact PCBA Executive Director Carol Phillips. Click here for details and to download the membership form.


Support our VLP and get a tax deduction to boot!

Did you know that contributions to the Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project are tax-deductible? The PCBA VLP is a charitable organization established with the mission of providing legal services to low income residents of Polk County. With your help, PCBA VLP is one of the most successful volunteer lawyer programs in the country, with Polk County lawyers donating approximately 5,000 hours of their time annually.

Unfortunately, the tough economic conditions have severely impacted the PCBA VLP. Demand for services has never been higher while our funding continues to decline. The PCBA VLP now offers you the ability to make donations on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis – all you need to do is check the appropriate option on your PCBA membership renewal form. And don’t forget that the PCBA VLP is a tax-exempt, charitable organization which means any donation you make is tax deductible. You can also designate the PCBA VLP as the recipient on your United Way donation.