The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, on the case of State v. Hutchison, which involves the arrest of peace protesters outside the STARC Armory in November 2003. The arrest later led to subpoenas of local peace activists and Drake University that drew national and international attention.
The defendants who are appealing their convictions are Sherry Hutchison, Rita Hohenshell, Eddie Bloomer, Josh Plank and Frank Cordaro. The issue before the court is whether the defendants were arrested in the public right of way of a public street. Iowa law states that it is not trespass to be in a public right of way on a public street.
The defendants were arrested as they attempted to near and cross N.W. 78th Avenue in Johnston, Iowa, to approach members of the Iowa National Guard and talk to them about their rights. The response to this protest was unprecedented in Iowa. More than 20 members of the sheriff’s department attended wearing full riot gear. Two undercover Polk County sheriff’s deputies attended the non-violence training held at Drake University the day before the protest.
A few months after the protest, in March of 2004, a federal grand jury was convened to investigate whether “there was a conspiracy to trespass at the STARC Armory” during the protest. In the course of that investigation, four local peace activists were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and Drake was subpoenaed for records concerning the student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Drake personnel were then gagged from confirming the existence of the subpoena or commenting on it. All of the subpoenas were eventually dropped in the face of international outrage.
Sally Frank, professor of law at Drake University Law School, will argue the case for the protesters as she did at trial and on earlier appeals. The hearing will take place in the Iowa Judicial Branch Building at 1111 E. Court Ave.