from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, John J.
discretionary review, the State challenges the district
court's denial of its motions to dismiss criminal
prosecutions in the furtherance of justice. REVERSED AND
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellant.
Natalia H. Blaskovich, Todd N. Klapatauskas, and Samuel A.
Wooden of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for
appellee Cynthia Kobusch.
Natalie H. Cronk of Cronk & Waterman, PLC, Iowa City, for
appellee Michael Kobusch.
Jeffrey E. Hiatt of Clemens, Walters, Conlon Runde &
Hiatt, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellee Jeffrey Merfeld.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
supreme court granted discretionary review to the State to
challenge the district court's refusal to dismiss one
count of child endangerment resulting in bodily
injury pending against each defendant "in
the furtherance of justice." Cynthia Kobusch and Michael
Kobusch are the adoptive parents of a fourteen-year-old boy,
and Jeffrey Merfeld is an uncle. The boy was physically
abused by being chained and wired to weights, causing
blisters and sores on his body. While criminal cases were
pending, juvenile court proceedings were held. The State, the
defendants, the guardian ad litem, and the child's
therapist negotiated a global settlement intending to
minimize further trauma to the child and achieve results
that, in the whole, seemed ultimately beneficial to the
child, including terminating the parental rights of the
parents, which was ultimately ordered by the juvenile court.
In the State's application for dismissal of the criminal
charges with prejudice,  it stated:
A review of the best interest of the child was made with the
therapist, guardian ad litem and investigators in the case.
The actions of the parties, with regard to the long-term
well-being of the child in the future, which had been
consummated in Juvenile Court, and shield the child from
future court appearances, convinced the State that dismissal
was in the interest of justice.
The district court denied the motion. The order denying the
motion to dismiss suggested additional or other charges could
be filed against the defendants, a grand jury should review
the case, and the possible appointment of a special
prosecutor. The State sought discretionary review, joined by
all parties, which was granted by the supreme court.
review of a ruling on a motion to dismiss a prosecution under
Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33(1) includes two
components. State v. Taeger, 781 N.W.2d 560, 564
The first question-whether the statement of reasons for
dismissal complied with the rule-is a question of law. If the
stated reasons are legally sufficient, the second question is
whether dismissal was "in the furtherance of
justice." This later determination is reviewable for an
abuse of discretion.
Id. (citations omitted). Such an abuse of discretion
occurs when "the trial court's discretion was
exercised on grounds clearly untenable or clearly
unreasonable." Id. (quoting State v.