Appellate Court States “Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure are Not Aspirational” and Reverses Lower Court’s Deviation from Court Rules

Posted on: December 8th, 2021

After the City of Cedar Rapids (the City) granted a land use amendment allowing an industrial use to be built in a residential neighborhood, various property owners (Landowners) challenged the City’s decision by filing writs of certiorari with the district court. “Without a hearing, the district court annulled the writs of certiorari” concluding that the City’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. The Landowners subsequently filed motions to amend, enlarge, and reconsider, all of which were denied without a hearing.

Appealing the district court’s ruling, the Landowners argued they were entitled to a hearing on the merits of their writs of certiorari. The Iowa Court of Appeals agreed. The Court noted that pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.1410, in certiorari proceeding that challenges a zoning decision, after a writ is issued and returned, “the court shall fix a time and place for hearing.” This duty to set a hearing is mandatory, not optional.

In response to a statement from the district court that it was “routine practice” of that judicial district to issue a ruling without holding a hearing when the district court was fully briefed on the issues presented, the Iowa Court of Appeals stated: “the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure are not aspirational, they are the rules and they take precedence over any district’s local rules.”

Because the district court denied the Landowners the right to a hearing, the Iowa Court of Appeals remanded the case for the district court to hold the hearing required under Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.1410.

Hogg v. City Council of Cedar Rapids, No. 20-1175 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 23, 2021).

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