Anthony Garcia, a third-year law student from Chicago, never imagined he’d have the opportunity to argue in front of the Iowa Court of Appeals, but that’s just what happened soon after he started his internship with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
Anthony first decided on Drake Law because his sister-in-law, Patricia Castro, LW’96, told him about the practical experience he would receive. Castro is currently an Assistant Rock Island County State’s Attorney – Civil Division in Illinois and Anthony’s brother is a police officer with the Chicago Police Department. It was through inspiration from them that he knew he wanted to represent the victims. This is a family that highly values public service.
After enduring the C. Edwin Moore oral arguments his first year (albeit nerve-wracking), Anthony knew one thing: He wanted to be in court. As such, he decided he was going to do everything he could to prepare himself for public speaking and oral arguments. He specifically chose to enroll in the Criminal Motions Practicum course to work on the areas he felt he needed improvement and went out of his way to find opportunities to get better.
His effort paid off.
As part of the internship with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, he knew he would be helping to draft briefs and see a ‘behind the scenes’ view of what happens in the criminal appeals division. After only a few weeks in, something very rare happened – one of the Assistant Attorney Generals approached him about doing an oral argument. A colleague had gone on medical leave and they were inviting Anthony to prepare the argument in her place. They were impressed with the work he had done prior to the internship as well as his first days on the job, and as a result, he landed the opportunity most third-year law students only dream about. Anthony had already completed two other internships in Polk County, including two felony jury trials, and he could hardly believe he was given this opportunity.
The case he was arguing was the criminal appeal of an OWI conviction. In order to best prepare his argument, he spent countless hours reading the trial transcript, the brief, and all of the cases cited in the brief. Perhaps the most helpful thing was mooting with fellow attorneys. Mooting refers to a practice argument where Anthony could do a practice run in order to gain feedback and input from experienced attorneys. In addition, they helped brainstorm answers and ideas to some of his questions. The tricky part: he had 45 minutes to moot with attorneys but only ten minutes to argue the case in court.
On the day of the oral argument, he was ready.
“I tried not to intimidate myself too much,” says Anthony. “I knew the facts, I knew my case, and I knew my argument.” He was prepared for about anything, including questions from the judge that may happen during the argument. Anthony was able to hit all of his major points and wrap up a conclusion without error. Many students at Drake Law are fortunate to have internships and experiences that give them a real feeling for practice, not just hearing about it in class. “The internships have given me invaluable experiences,” says Anthony. “I can hardly believe I’ve had the opportunity to do what I’ve been able to do.”
For a kid from Chicago, he admits to having grown fond of Iowa. Other states wouldn’t have provided him the same opportunities to connect and actually practice, but the legal community here has gone above and beyond. Following law school, Anthony hopes to move back to the Chicago area. The future is optimistic as he’s already secured multiple interviews. Without a doubt, the third-year law student with two felony jury trials and an argument in the Iowa Court of Appeals under his belt will be an asset no matter where he lands.