Reynolds takes solid step toward expanding voting rights

Since Governor Terry Branstad signed an order in January 2011 to end automatic restoration of voting rights for Iowans who have completed felony sentences, only 328 affected people have regained their franchise: 206 through the end of Branstad’s tenure, and 122 since Governor Kim Reynolds became the state’s leader in May 2017. Yet an estimated 52,000 Iowans are ineligible to vote because of a criminal record.

A constitutional amendment moving through the state legislature would end the lifetime ban for most Iowans with felony convictions but could not take effect until 2023 at the earliest.

Today Reynolds announced several steps aimed at increasing the number of Iowans who could participate in the electoral process sooner than that.

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How do you represent those people?

Aaron Hawbaker is the chief public defender for Black Hawk County. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am a criminal defense attorney. More specifically, I am a public defender. That further distinction is important for this discussion, because public defenders do not choose their clients based upon ability to pay or the merits of their case. They take all comers, warts and all. I am now in my fifteenth year of public defense and have had the responsibility of defending individuals charged with the spectrum of human baseness.

I am often asked, more frequently the more notorious the case, how can you represent those people?

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Federal court tossed lawsuit targeting Dakota Access pipeline protestors

In a victory for freedom of speech and association, a federal court last week “dismissed a $1 billion racketeering lawsuit that the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline filed against environmental groups and activists, saying he found no evidence of a coordinated criminal enterprise,” Blake Nicholson reported for the Associated Press on February 14.

Two of the named defendants, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, lived in Iowa when they repeatedly lit fires and used cutting torches to damage the Dakota Access pipeline. They later went into hiding, and Bleeding Heartland’s attempts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful.

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