CLE approved for 2008 Bench-Bar Conference held Jan. 8

State and Federal CLE credit in the amount of one (1) hour has been approved for the  LCBA Bench-Bar Conference held January 8.   The  information regarding the state CLE credit is  as follows:

Program Name: 2008 Bench Bar Conference
Sponsor: LINN COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
Start Date: 1/8/2008
End Date: 1/8/2008
City: Cedar Rapids
Class Type: Standard(live)
Total CLE Hours Approved: 1.0 (includes ethics hours)
Ethics Hours Approved: 0
Activity Number: 48147

Thornhill in Iraq–X

LCBA Member Ian Thornhill of the U.S. Attorney‘s Office in Cedar Rapids has been deployed to Iraq as a member of the Navy Reserve. He is going to be working on a task force that is helping to re-establish the Iraqi criminal court system. The LCBA will be posting his email updates, with permission.

Hello all!

I know it’s been a while since I have written. Believe it or not, things have been extremely busy around here. At least when you are away from family, you don’t feel so guilty about working 12+ hours a day! I’m still doing fine. I will catch you up on some stuff that has been going on.

On Christmas Eve we had a Christmas party for the entire task force. We held it outside on the basketball court and had one of the Iraqi civilians who works with us cater in athentic Iraqi food. It was good – many thought it was great. I’m just not much into trying new/exotic foods. I had a bad experience with lamb once and those things are hard to forget!

I have attached a photo of me from the party. I am holding a book I received in the ‘white-elephant’ gift exchange. I’ll tell you why I no longer have the book in a minute. As you can see, I am proudly displaying the colors. Many of my colleagues joked that they were happy to see me in such bright, sniper-enticing clothing! Don’t worry, we’ve had no snipers since I’ve been here and the party was not in the line of sight of any tall structures. Besides, there can’t be that many Iowa State fans living in Baghdad!

Back to the gift exchange. Many of you have probably done this – we have done it in the past at my office. Everyone anonymously wraps a gift. It could be a good gift, it could be a not-so-good gift. Then everyone draws a number from 1 to whatever. Number 1 picks a gift and opens it. Everyone who follows can either choose to pick a gift or take a gift that has already been unwrapped and displayed. If the gift that you opened gets taken by someone, you then get to choose whether to open a new gift or take one from someone else and so on. We included a rule (because we are lawyers, etc. and like rules) that once a gift was ‘stolen’ twice, it was off the market and the 2nd theif got to keep it. Anyway, this wonderful book was taken from me…and so were two other ‘good’ gifts that I got thereafter. In the end I got stuck with a fruitcake and some candy! One of the local vendors was watching the festivities with his young daughter (about Donovan’s age) so when we were done, I gave the little girl the candy and the fruitcake. I’m not sure if giving her the fruitcake will help or hurt our image with the locals!

You may be wondering what gift I put into the mix. Well, as luck would have it, my wonderful co-workers at the U.S. Attorney’s Office sent me a care package that arrive a few days before Christmas. In amongst the many great things they sent me was the horrible white elephant gift I got stuck with there last Christmas! It was a candy dot maker. Believe it or not, that thing got stolen twice! By the way, I have a pretty good idea who included that in the care package and I will get even!

New Years here was uneventful. I didn’t even stay up until midnight. Good thing too as the local custom is to shoot off their guns into the air to ring in the new year. Those rounds have to come down somewhere! I did not want to be roaming around outside for that.

The other picture attached here is me standing in front of a wall that separates the farthest perimeter of our compound from ‘the Red Zone.’ There is a busy street on the other side, I know because I looked over it. Notice the coat – it’s been cold here. The forcast for tonight calls for snow! During the same day this photo was taken (between Christmas & New Year’s) I got to tour the prison which is also part of the complex in which I live. It is an Iraqi prison, not a Coalition prison. Being in coalition custody is certainly better, but there are international advisors that are working with the Iraqi prison system to make it better. There are a lot of people being held by the Iraqis for local crimes who have not yet seen a judge for the first time. Some of them have been in ‘pretrial’ confinement longer than the maximum sentence for their alleged offenses. Our task force is also working on that problem and having some good successes. It really is a sad reality.

I have also taken a few more trips outside the wire to either go to the IZ (International Zone) or other military bases. I just cannot get used to wearing body armor and traveling in an armored vehicle in order to get anywhere. I am really looking forward to hopping in the car and driving my kids to Dairy Queen, with the windows down, when I get home. With a little luck, I should be able to do that in a little over 4 months!

Talk to you soon,

Ian

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Thornhill in Iraq–IX

LCBA Member Ian Thornhill of the U.S. Attorney‘s Office in Cedar Rapids has been deployed to Iraq as a member of the Navy Reserve. He is going to be working on a task force that is helping to re-establish the Iraqi criminal court system. The LCBA will be posting his email updates, with permission.

Hello All!
 
Everything is going well here.   I just wanted to send out a quick ‘Merry Christmas’ to all of you.   I hope you have  a great holiday.   I have attached a photo of my work trailer all lit up for Christmas – it brings a little bit of the season to us here.
 
Again, Merry Christmas!!!
 
Ian

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Thornhill in Iraq–VIII

Hello all,
 
It’s been a while since I sent you an update of what is going on here.   The problem is, other than the long work hours, there is not a lot else that I do on a daily basis.   Having said that, however, I have been on a couple of interesting trips outside the wire recently that may interest you.   I have attached a recent photo of me all geared up for one of these trips.   The only thing missing in this photo is the kevlar helmet.   I know some of you have seen this equipment already from photos I sent while in training in South Carolina.   For those who have not, the total ensemble (including helmet) weighs about 50 pounds.   The vest has a large metal plate in the front and the back and a smaller plate on each side.   The ‘wings’ on the arms and the remainder of the vest is made up of shrapnel-resistant material.
 
Forgive me if I have mentioned this before, but traveling from one place to another here is a major undertaking.   It requires putting on all the gear and jumping into a convoy of armored vehicles.   In addition to the uparmored suburbans like the one I rode in when I first arrived here, our security also has bigger, more menacing armored vehicles that we use.   The good news about these is that they provide greater protection than the suburban.   The bad news (if you can call it that) is when I get in one and have the helmet on, I’m about 2 inches too tall to sit completely upright.   I manage to slouch in my seat or get into some other manageable position.   In this environment, comfort is overrated!
 
One of the trips I took recently was to the U.S. Embassy.   It is located inside the IZ (International Zone a/k/a Green Zone).   The Embassy is currently housed inside another Saddam palace, although I do not know the palace’s history.   This is a temporary location as a new Embassy building is currently under construction.   Of course the security is quite tight but once inside, it’s hard to tell there is a war on.   It really looked like any other government building you’ve been in.   There were a lot of people working there including many civilians.   The building itself is very ornate and I must admit, after walking on dirt and rocks here at the FOB, walking on those nice smooth marble floors was a joy!   Oh yes, I can’t forget to mention the swimming pool.   That’s right, there is an outdoor swimming pool there.   Unfortunately I did not have the time, or the interest, to go swimming.   As I was leaving the Embassy I ran into a good friend of mine from my active duty Navy days.   He is a civilian and was visiting the Embassy on business for his civilian job.   What a small world.   As an aside in the ‘small world’ category, one of the Air Force attorneys that showed up at my task force a couple weeks after I did is from my same home town – yes, Ida Grove, Iowa, population 2200.   He was a year behind me in school (total high school size – approx. 200) and I haven’t seen him in about 20 years.   I have attached a photo of him and I in front of the task force Christmas (palm)Tree.
 
Another of my recent trips took me to a U.S. detainee detention facility.   Not too much to say about it – prison is prison.   Even if there was more to say, obviously I could not.   But I will say this, the place was very clean and professionally run.   I think, in general, there are two types of detainees here – the one’s who are suspected of committing crimes and the one’s who otherwise present a security risk.   In my job here, I am focused on the criminal suspects.   Soon I should be getting a tour of the Iraqi prison that is here near our facility.   I will let you know what that is like in a future update.
 
Time for me to go for now – it’s mail call.   Always a great day!   We have to pick up our mail at a central place outside of our FOB and bring it back here (another convoy).   When it returns, we all pitch in to unload and distribute the packages.   I hope there is something for me!
 
Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 
Ian

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LCBA Bench-Bar Conference & 50 Year Recognition Ceremony January 8

Please join the  Linn County Bar Association at  its  2008  Bench-Bar  Conference and  Ceremony to recognize 50-year  members of the LCBA on  Tuesday, January  8, 2008    from  4:00 6:30  pm at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Carnegie Library (main level).    The CLE consists of two sessions:

4:00-4:30:        U.S. Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles on the new Local Rules going into effect in January
4:305:00:     6th Judicial District Judge Nancy Baumgartner on Separation of Powers/Judicial Independence/Limiting the Court’s Jurisdiction

CLE credit has been applied for.  

At approximately 5:00, a recognition ceremony will be held for this year‘s class of 50-year members of the Linn County Bar Association.   Members of this year‘s class include  William Eads,  James Nemmers, Byron Riley, Arthur Kudart, and David Marner, Sr.  A reception catered by Winifred‘s will follow, with  music provided by Carlis Faurot and Mike Maas, and the LCBA’s own Thomas Wolle.   Please plan to attend this important event!   This event is free of charge to LCBA members and guests of the 50 year honorees.   QUESTIONS?    Contact  Scott McLeod via email or at  365-9101  regarding the Bench-Bar Conference in general.   Contact  Steve Pace via email or at 365-9461  regarding the 50-year-member recognition ceremony.  

Iowa Legal Aid VLP Potpourri CLE December 6

Iowa Legal Aid’s VLP Potpourri CLE seminar takes place on Thursday, December 6 from 8:30 am to 12:45 pm in Cedar Rapids, at the Cedar Rapids Community School District Offices, 346 Second Avenue, SW, Room 150 (with 9 other sites around Iowa also joining via the ICN). Applications will be submitted for 4 hours State and 2 hours Federal CLE Accreditation. Sponsored by Iowa’s Volunteer Lawyers Projects, the session includes:*     “Effective Trial Strategies in Family Law Cases” with Hon. Marsha Beckelman, 6th Judicial District
*     “Employment Law: A Primer and Non-Compete Agreements” with Kelly R. Baier of Bradley & Riley PC in Cedar Rapids
*     “Obligations to Provide for Fair Housing” with Corey Luedeman, Iowa Legal Aid Senior Staff Attorney
*   “How Landmark Litigation of Iowa Legal Aid Impacts Your Practice” with Frank Tenuta, Managing Attorney of Iowa Legal Aid’s Northwest Iowa Regional Office.

For details including all site locations and a registration form, go to http://www.probono.net/link.cfm?9101

Linn Law Club Holiday Fund Drive donations due December 7

There is only one week left to contribute to the Linn Law Club’s Sixth Annual Holiday Fund Drive.  Last year the Club raised over $9,000 which purchased gifts and food for 22 local families (totaling 99 individuals)  through HACAP (Hawkeye Area Community Action Program).   As of November 30 this year, the Club had received $2,000 in donations.   The Club needs your help to reach last year’s outstanding results!   Once again, prizes will be awarded to the office with the highest donations and the office with the highest per attorney donation. The Club’s shopping and wrapping date is set for December 12 so please mail your donation, payable to Linn Law Club,  by Friday, December 7.   You can mail your 100% tax deductible donation to:

Linn Law Club
c/o Brian Farrell
1329 Elmhurst Dr. NE
Cedar Rapids, IA   52402

If  you would like to volunteer for the shopping and wrapping scheduled for December 12, please email Club Vice-President Tim Van Pelt or call him at 366-7641.

Thornhill in Iraq–VII

I’m not sure how long it’s been since I last e-mailed – maybe a week. I’m really not even sure what day it is!   Anyway, I do not have a lot of new stuff to report as I am still settling into the job and have yet to travel outside the wire since my arrival.   That may change and, if it does, I’ll let you know after the fact.   I did get some inquiries about the food here so I thought I’d give you all a little insight on that.

We eat at the DFAC, which is Army-short for dining facility.   Makes sense!   Anyway, the DFAC is basically akin to a cafateria.   Both the entrance and exit of the DFAC are guarded by armed guards at all times.   These are ‘third country nationals’, mostly from war-torn parts of Africa.   Despite the certain horrors of their childhood and life back home, they are the friendliest and most polite people I have ever met.   They salute everyone entering or exiting the DFAC and always have a smile on their faces.   I make it a point to shake each guard’s hand every time I enter and exit the DFAC.   That’s not just me being me, which is most of it, it’s also making sure these guys have a favorable impression about Americans in general and me in particular.   They are part of the group who is responsible for the overall security of the FOB and all of our movements outside the wire.   I want to be on their good side!   That being said, a lot of these guys are here for the money – that is to say, they are working here in an effort to earn a level of income they cannot earn at home.   I imagine most of them will take their earnings home with them and live a much more comfortable lifestyle than otherwise possible.

The DFAC has a few rules.   First, you must ‘clear’ your weapon before entering the DFAC.   This involves the use of a ‘clearing barrel.’   Basically what each person with a weapon does is aim the weapon into the barrel and take a series of steps to ensure the weapon is unloaded.   The barrel is designed to catch that errent round safely, however, actually discharging your weapon into the clearing barrel will initiate an investigation!   Nobody wants that.   Next you pass by the guards and they check to make sure you are not carrying any bags, backpacks, or other containers.   No, this isn’t like college where they didn’t want you sneaking out with food.   In fact, you can take as much food out as you want (except for the 2 drink limit) and go through the line as many times as you want.   Anyone guess why no bags, etc. are allowed?   Remember a  couple years ago when a suicide bomber entered a DFAC at Camp Victory (I think it was Camp Victory) and blew himself up?   That’s why.   No matter how hard you try, you can’t guarantee no bad guys will infultrate your camp.   This rule is designed to  decrease the risk should one slip through.   The third rule is that you must wash your hands before entering the DFAC.   There are sinks located next to the entrance for this purpose.   I think all of these rules are good rules!

Once inside, it really does look like a cafeteria.   You grab a tray (non-disposable) and a disposable plate and plasticware.   Then you have a choice of two lines.   The main line offers a more highbrow selection, which has included prime rib (not really), shrimp, veal, crab legs, chicken, chinese, etc. along with the ancillaries like corn, rice, mashed potatoes, assorted vegetables, and the like.   The other line is the ‘short order’ line.   Daily it has hamburgers, philly sandwiches, grilled cheese, pizza, and hotdogs.   Occasionally it has buffalo wings, chicken strips, and my personal favorite…..corn dogs!   The corn dogs are there about once a week.   I love corn dogs.   These certainly are not state fair quality corn dogs but they’ll do.   When I am heading to dinner I always tell myself ‘I feel like having (whatever), unless they have corn dogs.   If they do, I’m having those!’

In addition to  the two lines they also have a taco bar, a baked potato bar, a salad bar, and a fruit bar.   Yes, I have taken part in all of these and really do try to balance out my meal, especially on corn dog day!   They also have a variety of potato chips, bread, etc.   Wait, there is more.   They also have a sandwich bar where a guy, much like in the Subway tradition, will make you a sandwich of your choice.   I have not yet tried this out, but I’ll get there.   And finally, there is the dessert bar!   I have made a conscious effort to avoid the dessert bar and have succeeded so far.   I did peak though!   They have cake (including cheesecake), cookies,  and pie.   They also have ice cream.   This comes in two forms.   You can grab individually wrapped ice cream treats (i.e. a Klondike Bar, etc.) or you can have a guy dish you out some genuine Baskin & Robbins ice cream.   Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it!

Drinks you say? Yes, there are coolers containing various drinks  from a wide variety of milk and juices, to gatorade, soda, and fake beer.   I tried a non-alcohol Beck’s….not good.   There is also coffee, tea, and water.   In fact, all over the camp you will find bottled water on pallets for the taking.   Very important item to have, especially  when it’s 125 degrees during the summer.   (As a quick aside – does anyone want to hear how cold I feel today because the temperature is only in the upper 60s?).

All of what I just told you is typical of lunch and dinner, but they also serve us breakfast around here.   At breakfast you can get scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, grits, hash browns, pancakes, French toast, dry cereal, bagels, muffins, and fruit.   You can also have a made-to-order omlet!   I have only done this once because generally the line is too long for me, but they are good!

One last thing – if you are up at midnight you can go to MidRats.   Basically this is the 4th meal of the day!   Actually, although I work normal (but long) hours, this is a 24 hour/day operation.   Some of the people working here eat lunch or dinner at midnight.

I almost forgot – it was Thanksgiving last Thursday and they did put on quite a spread.   Nothing like I could get a home, but it was a great try.   We had turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, corn, corn bread, etc, etc.   It wasn’t bad, but the stuffing looked a little scarey so I didn’t try it!

That’s it for now.   Keep the questions coming and I’ll see you soon.

Thornhill in Iraq–VI

LCBA Member Ian Thornhill of the U.S. Attorney‘s Office in Cedar Rapids has been deployed to Iraq as a member of the Navy Reserve. He is going to be working on a task force that is helping to re-establish the Iraqi criminal court system. The LCBA will be posting his email updates, with permission.

I have a few photos of my living quarter:

Row of living quarters. Mine is about ½ way down on the right.

This is my home away from home. No one told me what “TA” stands for. I‘m going with “Talented Attorney!” And, yes, that is a combination heating & cooling unit!

Inside view from the front to the back. Shower is not pictured but is on the right in the bath room. See that fancy knob in the middle of the toilet tank? That the flush mechanism. Pull up & hold to flush – I spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure that out!

Inside view facing the entry door. Yes, that is a fridge in the bottom right hand corner. No Internet, phone, or T.V. in here though. Again, over here this is high class living.