Court Puts Iowa Ag Trespass Law on Hold – DTN

The state of Iowa cannot enforce a new ag trespass law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds last March, after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction this week in a lawsuit brought against the law by animal rights groups.

The order issued Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines is the latest in a series of legal defeats for the state in its attempts to stop undercover investigations at agriculture facilities.

Animal rights groups filed the lawsuit on April 22, 2019, to stop Iowa’s new law. Reynolds signed the law just months after a federal court ruled the state’s previous ag fraud law was unconstitutional.

“The public interest also weighs in favor of granting a preliminary injunction,” the court said in its order on Monday.

“Although this court seriously considers the public’s interest in seeing the enforcement of criminal laws, defendants have done little to show that (the law) responds to ongoing issues of public concern unrelated to the suppression of free speech,” the court said in its ruling. “By contrast, the public benefits from people and organizations exercising First Amendment rights and educating the public about important issues relating to animal abuse and safety at agricultural production facilities. The public interest weighs in favor of granting a preliminary injunction.” The criminal case will not end with the hiring of a criminal defense lawyer. In fact, there are still other expenses that you need to attend to. This will include witness fees, depositions, process servers, transcripts, records copies, deposition rooms, expert witnesses, and government documents. These things are billed to YOU, the client and it’s different from the legal fees. You should be aware of these expenses so that you can already calculate if you can afford to pay for them. Going to court is expensive and you need to know a great deal of the criminal law to avoid violating them in the future. You can find more information about JEFFERSON COUNTY CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS through this site https://www.gblawmo.com/. There are times when you need to get a criminal defense lawyer in Nebraska and it helps to know that these lawyers offer free initial consultation. Their legal fees are flat. For instance, if you are facing misdemeanor criminal lawsuits, it can cost you around $1,500 to $5,000 for defense. DUI cases will usually charge higher and can cost you $2,500 to $10,000. When you are facing felony cases because of a violation in the criminal law, the fees involved are much higher and can reach $25,000! But that’s not the end of it because the federal or state court fees tend to be higher as well. When you meet with the lawyer, you should provide your criminal history so that the criminal defense lawyer can assess your case. Facts on the case will be reviewed. The defenses available will also be identified so that the legal issues can be better addressed. Your lawyer can help you out by assessing the situation and you will be told frankly if the case is hard or easy to resolve. Meeting with the lawyer is the best way to determine if you feel comfortable with him or her. Any problem with the violation of a criminal law will only be resolved with the help of a qualified Nebraska lawyer. A Nebraska criminal defense lawyer should never make promises. You will only be presented with facts but nothing more. So if a certain lawyer promises to win your case and pressures you to hire him/her, take it as a red flag and shy away. There are still many reputable and ethical lawyers out there that can help you with your problem. Once you hire a lawyer, you will be educated of your case standing and the criminal law that you’ve violated. You will need to pay 25% to 50% of the fee and this will serve as down payment.

The court has scheduled a hearing on the case for Dec. 23, 2019.

In January 2019, the same court ruled the 2012 law was a violation of free speech. The groups, led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed the new lawsuit in the same court.

The 2012 law came about after at least a couple of widely publicized investigations into hog operations. The law made it illegal to enter a livestock facility under false pretenses or lie on a job application to work for a livestock operation. It was meant to effectively criminalize undercover investigations on livestock farms.

In the new lawsuit, the animal rights groups compared the new law with the previous law, calling them “substantially similar” and outlining how the new law is overbroad. Further, the groups provided details of planned investigations into agriculture operations that would be thwarted by the new law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living says that elder abuse, in general, refers to “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.” Nursing home residents are often dependent upon their caregivers for the help and support they need and, because of this dependence, they are often vulnerable to intentional or negligent harm. The responsible party for this harm may be a caregiver, nursing home staff member, or another resident. Nursing home residents may be abused physically by someone or they may be experiencing neglect. This neglect can take the form of a lack of assistance in walking, eating and drinking, or toilet and hygiene needs. A resident may be isolated from participating in activities or they may become the victim of financial abuse such as threats and intimidation from someone over money or the misuse of a resident’s property or money. With an aging population and an increasing number of Americans over retirement age, it is likely that reports of nursing home abuse lawyer abuse will grow in the future. However, many experts agree that the number of cases reported each year is only a fraction of the total number.

The new law prohibits what it calls “agricultural production facility trespass.” It makes it illegal for a person to gain access to an ag facility through deception if the intent is to cause an “injury” to the “business interest” of the facility.

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The 2012 law used similar language as the new law, prohibiting what it called “agricultural production facility fraud.” That was defined as obtaining access to an ag facility through false pretenses and making false statements or representations on applications for employment with ag facilities.

The new law also prohibits access to an ag facility by using deception “on a matter that would reasonably result in a denial of access to an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public.” The new law was designed, essentially, to prevent “economic harm” or “other injury” to the facilities, equipment, employees and even customers.

The animal rights groups who file the lawsuit have alleged the new law also impedes on the free speech of other groups, including members of labor unions, and has put a chill on potential future undercover investigations.

The groups said they have identified Iowa ag facilities where they would like to conduct “undercover, employment-based investigations, but it has not pursued such investigations due to its reasonable fear of prosecution” under the new law.

Iowa joined several states in adopting what opponents call “ag-gag” laws because of videos generated by such investigations showing what is perceived by some as abusive behavior toward animals.

Similar cases have overturned laws in Idaho and Utah in recent years, but a Wyoming law has been upheld in court. Similar cases are still working their way through courts in North Carolina.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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