Legal Memorandum: Motion for New Trial and Irregularity

Issue: Under the law of Iowa, what qualifies as an ‘irregularity’ in a trial with respect to a motion for new trial?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: New trial; Irregularity in the proceedings
Jurisdiction: Iowa
Cited Cases: 553 N.W.2d 607
Cited Statutes: Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.1004, Rule 1.1012(2)
Date: 01/01/2015


Under Iowa law, a new trial may be granted on the grounds of “[i]rregularity in the proceedings of the court, jury, master, or prevailing party; or any order of the court or master or abuse of discretion which prevented the movant from having a fair trial” where the moving party’s “substantial rights” were “materially affected.”  Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.1004 TA s "1.1004"  (emphasis added).

No cases specifically discuss the meaning of “irregularity” under Rule 1.1004 TA s "1.1004" (1) as it related to jury proceedings.  See In re Marriage of Woldegabir TA s "Woldegabir" , 851 N.W.2d 854, 854 n.1 (Iowa Ct. App. 2014) (the court “could not find any case law specifically interpreting ‘irregularity’ under rule 1.1004(1)”).  The Woldegabir TA s "Woldegabir"  court instead relied upon the Iowa Supreme Court’s interpretation of the term under Rule 1.1012(2) (grounds for vacating or modifying judgment), which was based in large part on the following definition of irregularity pulled from Black’s Law Dictionary (rev. 5th ed. 1979):

The doing or not doing that, in the conduct of a suit at law, which, conformably with the practice of the court, ought or ought not to be done. Violation or nonobservance of established rules and practices. The want of adherence to some prescribed rule or mode of proceeding; consisting either in omitting to do something that is necessary for the due and orderly conducting of a suit, or doing it in an unseasonable time or improper manner.


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