Des Moines, Iowa - A man convicted of kidnapping has been granted a new trial by the Iowa Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel concluded the trial judge should not have allowed the ex-wife and estranged daughter from the first marriage to have testified against him at the trial. The man was charged based on allegations of abuse during the second marriage. The evidentiary basis for the Court of Appeal's ruling has to do with "prior bad acts". In layman's terms that means to convict you for present bad acts the jury shouldn't be asked to rely on previous bad acts. Just because you did bad things in the past doesn't mean you did what is currently alleged against you. Our tendency as humans is to do exactly that, bring up prior bad acts to support a bad personality, but not so in Court. Register story by Grant Schulte.
Council Bluffs, Iowa - I'll be the first to admit the report of this story is somewhat confusing. The facts are sketchy. This past June a man died in a fire. Sometime prior to the fire starting, the news report says an hour and a half, the man who died apparently called the police. Why I'm not sure. The police listened but allegedly heard nothing, so they didn't respond. The allegation is that the man, Frederickson, 21 was making a distress call and the police should have responded. The pleadings in the case allege recklessness, carelessness and gross negligence for failing to properly respond to a distress call. Was this a 9-1-1 call? Was there no caller ID? Were the police unable to determine the exact address from where the call came in from? Was the called using a cell phone or land line? That would make a difference in knowing where to respond. Why wasn't the calling being heard? I've written before about US Cellular service having poor to no reception in places. The blog was "Can your cell phone service kill you?" Did the cell phone company incorrectly route the service call? This isn't going to be an easy case to prove. In Iowa it's tough to prove a gross negligence case. The Supreme Court has created and continues to build a high wall in front of such claims. This will be a tough case to win.
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Donnellson, Iowa - An elderly woman somehow fell into a well located on her farm and drowned. The Sheriff's investigation concluded she stepped on the lid, which was very old, it crumpled, giving way and she fell in. This issue has also been covered on this blog. Recall the 4-year-old boy who allegedly moved a 14 pound concrete septic tank lid; I disagreed and opined the lid may have simply flipped after he stood on it. Can a 4-year-old boy move a 14 pound concrete septic tank lid? This is one more example of just how dangerous those old cisterns can be and it's a good example of why home maintenance is not just a good idea, but a necessary one. A cistern is a receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources does collect records on abandoned water wells. Human nature pushes back when government steps in to force citizens to do what is in their best interest or creates a general safety hazard, but these two cases demonstrate why government action is sometimes necessary. Follow the link to download the Iowa DNR's Abandoned Water Well form. There is also a nice PowerPoint presentation on agricultural drainage wells and what the law requires. If you have a well on your property and are concerned about it contact your county engineer.
Iowa City, Iowa - It's not often you have more than one cistern story to discuss, but here is one. The Iowa City road crew that repeated fixed the pothole near the Johnson County Courthouse discovered a limestone cistern under the road that needed to be filled. This limestone cistern was 22 feet deep and 4 feet wide. The AP writer point out the courthouse is over 110-years old and may at some time have been used to catch rain water off the courthouse roof. Some limestone cisterns were used in ancient times as tombs. I'm not sure Iowa City can be compared to Malta, so I'm buying the rainwater catch idea. Poor countries like Haiti use cisterns to collect drinking water. See also the Quad City Times report, Mystery of pothole solved.
Des Moines, Iowa - One last bit of news before I quit today. This one has to do with warm weather. The days when you can get in your boat and create another rooster tail wake are right around the corner. The Des Moines Sale and Power Squadron is having a five-week boating safety course Tuesday nights from March 23 to April 20th. The classes will be held at DMACC in Room 8 of Building 20. Get your wallet out because it's going to cost you 40 bucks. Call 515-265-4158. Hey if your single maybe this is your way to meet someone else.
Here is how to create a safe rainwater cistern on your farm or perhaps a smaller one for your suburban property.