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Neuman v. Callahan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

JAMES WILLIAM NEUMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NATHAN CALLAHAN, DEB DOE, EMILY ZERKEL, BLACK HAWK COUNTY ATTORNEYS OFFICE, JOEL A. DALRYMPLE, JEREMY LEE WESTENDORF, MICHELLE MARIE WAGNER, STATE OF IOWA, KEVIN R. CMELIK, CINDY DOE, GRANT VEERDER, STEPH DOE, KELLYANN M. LEKAR, JOHN MILLER, BLACK HAWK COUNTY CLERKS OFFICE, JANE DOE, TOM LITTLE, FRANK MAGSAMEN, CRAIG WHITE, RITA SCHMIDT, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA, JOSEPH MOOTHART, BRIAN JOHN WILLIAMS, BLACK HAWK COUNTY COURTHOUSE, LINDA LAYLIN, IOWA ATTORNEY GENERAL, and THOMAS FERGUSON, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Rustin T. Davenport, Judge.

         James Neuman appeals the dismissal of his lawsuit.

          James William Neuman, Waterloo, self-represented appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Jeffrey C. Peterzalek and Caroline Barrett, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          John T. McCoy and Dustin Zesche of Swisher & Cohrt, P.L.C., Waterloo, for Black Hawk County appellees.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         This legal odyssey began with James Neuman's 2014 Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) conviction. Dissatisfied with the way the Black Hawk County Clerk's office staff handled administration of his fine, Neuman filed a civil lawsuit. His 205-page petition asserted a conspiracy by a variety of state, county, and judicial actors. The district court succinctly summarized Neuman's lawsuit:

He has brought suit against Black Hawk County, the Black Hawk County Courthouse, Black Hawk County Attorney's Office, against specific attorneys in the Black Hawk County Attorney's Office, against the individual board of supervisors, against the Black Hawk County Auditor. Neuman has also brought suit against the Iowa Attorney General's Office, judges who have presided in Black Hawk County, specific individuals at the Iowa Attorney General's Office, against the Black Hawk County Clerk's Office, and certain employees of the Black Hawk County Clerk's Office. Neuman's case arises as a result of his concern that administration of fines in Black Hawk County is being done improperly and illegally. Neuman was convicted of operating while intoxicated in Black Hawk County OWCR196436 on October 17, 2014. Pursuant to the Judgment and Sentence, a fine of $1250 plus 35% surcharge, a DARE charge of $10, and a Law Enforcement Initiative surcharge of $125 was imposed. It provided that half of the $1250 fine and applicable surcharge would be waived when the defendant presents to the clerk of court a temporary restricted license and a copy of the certificate of installation of ignition interlock device if required by the DOT. Neuman contends there is a conspiracy between defendants in this case to overcharge him and other criminal defendants for fines they have to pay. He contends that the clerk's office falsifies payment records and conspired to keep defendants on probation.

         Neuman asserted a plethora of claims under a multitude of theories. The district court granted defendants' motions to dismiss. Neuman appeals.

         The first thing that strikes us is the length of Neuman's briefs. He certified that his 111-page opening brief is 14, 000 words-the limit imposed by Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.903(1)(g)(1) (2019). The actual word count is 17, 844, not including the cover page, table of contents, table of authorities, statement of the issues, certificates, signature blocks, and page numbers. The brief is over length. Neuman certified that his 54-page reply brief is 10, 000 words. Although it contains 9361 words in actuality, the reply brief is also over length as it exceeds the 7000 word limit-one-half the word limit length for an opening brief. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.903(1)(g)(1) ("A reply brief shall contain no more than half of the type volume specified for a required brief."). Neuman did not request or receive permission to file over length briefs.

         The next thing that strikes us is the number of rules violations that riddle Neuman's briefs. Examples follow.

• Factual statements are unsupported by references to the record or the appendix. See Iowa Rs. App. 6.903(2)(f), 6.904(4).
• The briefs contain no meaningful statements about how Neuman preserved issues for appellate review and there are no references to the places in the record where he raised or the district court decided ...

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