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Ostergren v. Iowa District Court for Muscatine Cnty.

Supreme Court of Iowa

May 8, 2015

MUSCATINE COUNTY ATTORNEY ALAN R. OSTERGREN, Plaintiff,
v.
IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR MUSCATINE COUNTY, Defendant

Certiorari to the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Thomas G. Reidel, Judge. The Muscatine County Attorney sought a writ of certiorari after the district court issued an administrative order establishing a protocol permitting any person protected by a no-contact order issued in a criminal case to petition the district court for modification or termination of the order.

Alan R. Ostergren, Muscatine County Attorney, plaintiff, Pro se.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jeffrey Thompson, Solicitor General, and Renner Walker, Assistant Attorney General, for defendant.

HECHT, Justice. All justices concur except Cady, C.J., who takes no part.

OPINION

Page 295

HECHT, Justice.

The district court for Muscatine County issued an administrative order allowing persons protected by no-contact orders to petition the district court to terminate or modify such orders. In this certiorari proceeding, we consider whether the district court exceeded its authority by issuing the

Page 296

administrative order. Because we find the order was within the district court's authority, we annul the writ.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Iowa Code chapter 664A governs no-contact orders and protective orders. See Iowa Code § 664A.2 (2013). Of particular relevance to this case, chapter 664A " applies to no-contact orders issued for violations or alleged violations of [code sections criminalizing domestic abuse assault, harassment, stalking, and sexual abuse], and any other public offense for which there is a victim." Id. § 664A.2(1). Section 664A.3(1) sets forth the grounds for entering no-contact orders:

1. When a person is . . . arrested for any public offense referred to in section 664A.2, subsection 1, and the person is brought before a magistrate for initial appearance, the magistrate shall enter a no-contact order if the magistrate finds both of the following:
a. Probable cause exists to believe that any public offense referred to in section 664A.2, subsection 1, or a violation of a no-contact order, protective order, or consent agreement has occurred.
b. The presence of or contact with the defendant poses a threat to the safety of the alleged victim, persons residing with the alleged victim, or members of the alleged victim's family.

Id. § 664A.3(1)( a )--( b ). Thus, under this statute, a magistrate must issue a no-contact order if he or she makes the requisite findings. See id.

On July 22, 2014, the Muscatine County District Court issued an administrative order pertaining " to all requests to terminate or modify Orders of Protection entered in criminal proceedings in Muscatine County." The order prescribes a formal procedure through which persons protected by such orders may seek to have them modified or terminated.[1] The prescribed procedure requires a protected person seeking relief to deliver to the court a letter setting forth the reasons for their request. Upon receiving the letter, a judge reviews the letter and the underlying criminal case file. The court will not summarily grant a request to modify or terminate a no-contact order unless the State has waived notice and consented to such relief. If the protected person's request is not summarily granted, the court must set a hearing on ...


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