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Meet the Author & Illustrator

September 22, 2023
6:30 pm

B John Burns III | The New Rules: An Old Man Held Hostage by a Radical Right Iowa Legislature and Governor

@ Beaverdale Books

In 2002, B. John Burns completed 4A Iowa Practice: Criminal Procedure, a practice manual published at the time by West Publishing and used widely by lawyers and judges across the state. Each year since then, John has prepared a new edition keeping the manual up to date with recent changes in the law.

On January 31, 2022, two weeks before the final deadline for submitting revisions to go into the 2022 edition of the manual, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court signed an order implementing a new set of Rules of Criminal Procedure, for the first time since 1976. John worked frantically, night and day, to make approximately 600 changes to his 1200-page book to
correspond with the new rules.  But then, on the date of the final deadline, as John prepared to submit the revisions, the
Supreme Court entered another order, this time retracting the new rules. John had one day to undo all the changes upon which he had worked feverishly for two weeks. He would soon learn that several Republican Iowa legislators had informed the Court that they had objections to some of the new rules and that they would be rejected by the Legislative Council.

In October, the Court came back with a new set of proposed rules intended to allay the legislators’ concerns. John went back to work on incorporating them into what would be the 2023 manual. A proof manuscript of that work was ready the following February.  But once again the legislature stepped in at the last moment. Bills circulated in both the House and Senate that would alter and limit what should go into the rules. The 2023 manual was now stalled out indefinitely.

The New Rules is a memoir of a 38-year career as a practicing criminal defense attorney and legal writer. For sixteen months, John Burns finds himself caught in the crossfire between the highly conservative Republican Legislature and governor on one side and, on the other, a Supreme Court struggling to remain the last independent check on the unfettered power of the other two branches. John’s story seems to be a small one, but it opens a window to the way politics are played in Iowa in 2022 and 2023.

About the Author
B. John Burns is an obscure Johnston, Iowa songwriter who celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 2022. Since writing “Last Airport Home” in September 1972, John has written approximately 5,000 songs in nearly every genre of music. He has appeared in 25 states, and continues to perform his tunes for mostly small, intimate audiences on piano, guitar and ukulele.

To put food on the table, John has worked as a busboy, a stereo salesman, a bank messenger, a criminal defense attorney, a grill cook, a Pinkerton guard, a political organizer, a bank bookkeeper, a published author, a paid actor, and a martial arts instructor. Through it all, he has continued to write music on a nearly daily basis.

Other Books by B. John Burns
Baby Pictures: My Year on the Road with Baby Lester and the Buggybumpers.
Dead Horses: A Collection of Longwinded But Entirely True Stories About My Favorite Subject
El Mensajero
4A Iowa Practice: Criminal Procedure

About the Illustrator

Shawn Palek was born in 1970, Uniontown, OH. He is an educated commercial artist, who enjoys using the airbrush to accomplish hyper-realism and pop culture, fine art paintings. Spending time over the past thirty years to develop his technique with the airbrush, he is very proficient in creating one-of-a-kind paintings that strike not only the eye, but also stir the imagination. Shawn lives in Des Moines, Iowa Metro area and is currently an airbrush and illustration instructor at Des Moines Community College, Ankeny, Iowa. He has won many awards, in the several art categories, and has been part of several art groups, such as Art-A-Holics (No longer anonymous). Shawn has also curated his own artshows over fifty times.

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