The Iowa Supreme Court is seeking greater authority to police Iowa’s lawyers. Under current rules, lawyers who’re accused of misconduct get their cases heard first by their local peers — and county attorneys investigate complaints against other county attorneys. Complaints can be dismissed or a private reprimand can be issued by either the county attorneys association or local bar associations, ending the investigation. The state’s highest court now suggests that no complaint is to be dismissed before the court’s own Baord of Professional Ethics reviews it. The justices also are proposing that they be given the authority to reject a Board of Professional Ethics decision. The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court says the changes are necessary because of recent events — notably the revelation that some county attorneys were letting people make a contribution to a charity to get a speeding ticket reduced to a mere vehicle equipment violations. The Cass County Attorney was removed from office over the controversy. Fred McCaw, the Dubuque County Attorney, says it gave the appearance that you could “buy your way out of a criminal conviction.” “The position of our association is that charitable contributions should not be part of any criminal sentence,” he says. The County Attorneys Association is hold its annual convention today in Dubuque.
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