Federal judge rejects state’s ag-gag law

DES MOINES — A federal court judge ruled the state of Iowa cannot enforce its latest attempt to stifle undercover investigations of livestock farms and denied the state’s efforts to dismiss a lawsuit challenging this year’s so-called ag-gag law.

The Republican-led legislature passed the state’s second such law in March, two months after a federal judge struck down the previous 2012 law, saying it violated constitutional free-speech rights.

The new law created a trespass charge for undercover investigators. Lawmakers claimed they crafted it more narrowly to avoid free speech claims.

However, U.S. District Judge James Gritzner said in his ruling filed Monday that the animal rights and civil rights groups filing the lawsuit had raised enough legal issues to allow the case to proceed.

Gritzner also prohibited the state from enforcing the law while the lawsuit moves forward.

Similar laws in Idaho and Utah have been struck down as unconstitutional.

State agrees to pay legal bills for 2 abortion protesters

DES MOINES — The state of Iowa has agreed to pay $130,000 in legal bills for two eastern Iowa anti-abortion rights protesters who successfully challenged a portion of the state’s disorderly conduct law.

Anthony Miano and Nicholas Rolland, both of Davenport, frequently read aloud from the Bible and preached on public sidewalks outside abortion clinics. They sued Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness last year after Miano was found in violation of a law making it a simple misdemeanor to create loud and raucous noise near residences or public buildings that cause unreasonable distress to occupants.

On Sept. 26, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger found a section of the Iowa Code unconstitutionally vague because it subjects speakers to criminal punishment based on the reactions of third parties.

She ordered the state to pay legal fees for Miano and Rolland.

On Monday, the Iowa Appeal Board approved payment of $127,300 to the Virginia-based American Center for Law & Justice, a Christian-based activist group, and $6,742 to Iowa-based Munro Law Office.

1 killed, 1 injured when SUV hits them in parking lot

CENTER POINT — Police say an eastern Iowa woman has died and a man was injured when a sport utility vehicle hit them in a bar parking lot and sped away.

The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Bully’s North in Center Point, about 20 miles north of Cedar Rapids.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office said Kimberley Swore, 50, of Center Point, died at the scene. Another pedestrian suffered minor injuries in the hit-and-run.

Police have information on a suspect, but no charges had been filed.

Wheatland man, 75, dies in skid loader accident

WHEATLAND — Authorities have identified an eastern Iowa man killed in a skid loader accident.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department said Owen H. Boedeker, 75, of Wheatland, died in the accident Monday morning at a business in the small community.

Wheatland emergency responders were called to the business and found a boom attached to the skid loader had hit and killed Boedeker.

Wheatland is about 25 miles northwest of Davenport.

SIOUX CITY — A Sioux City man has pleaded guilty in what authorities have called a human trafficking case in which a teenage Guatemalan girl was raped.

Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas, 38, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to a smuggling count and unlawful possession of identification documents. In exchange, a third smuggling count will be dropped.

Prosecutors said Francisco-Nicolas helped pay smuggling costs for the girl and her father to get from Guatemala to the U.S.-Mexico border and then travel to Sioux City. Francisco-Nicolas’ wife, 40-year-old Amy Francisco, pleaded guilty last week to helping her husband in the scheme.

The 17-year-old girl was found wandering Sioux City streets on June 5 and told authorities she had been repeatedly raped by Francisco-Nicolas before she escaped.

Man dies as result of Monday shooting near Coe College

CEDAR RAPIDS — Police say a man injured in a shooting near the Coe College campus in Cedar Rapids has died from those injuries.

Levi Hunter Allen Holten, 20, of Cedar Rapids, died Monday from injuries he received in a shooting on Nov. 25. Police said Holten was found in an alley around 5:15 a.m. that day with a gunshot wound to his abdomen.

Cedar Rapids police said an autopsy has been scheduled. No arrests in the shooting have been reported. An investigation into the shooting continues.

The Associated Press

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