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Drake law student argues case before Iowa Supreme Court

News Photo
Erin Grundy addresses the Iowa Supreme Court.

Just three days after winning the award for best oralist in the annual Iowa Supreme Court Competition on Saturday, Drake University law student Erin Grundy again found herself standing before the seven justices of the state’s highest court.

This time, however, she wasn’t participating in a moot court competition. Instead, she was presenting an oral argument on behalf of Paul Anthony Garrity in the case of State v. Garrity at the Drake Legal Clinic. The arguments, which took place Tuesday in the courtroom of the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center, were part of the Law School’s 72nd Annual Supreme Court Celebration.

Grundy, a third-year student, presented the argument through her participation in the Law School’s Advanced Criminal Appellate Clinic in association with the State Appellate Defender’s Office.

Students are allowed to present oral arguments to the court under Iowa Court Rule 31.15.

Grundy was poised and confident as she presented her argument and fielded questions from various justices.

“It has been an amazing opportunity for me,” she added. “I’m so thankful to the Iowa Supreme Court for its strong support of clinical programs across the state and for giving student practitioners the opportunity to practice before the state’s highest court.”

Grundy noted that she received substantial help in preparing for the case from Drake faculty and from her supervisor at the State Appellate Defender’s Office. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.

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The justices listen intently to Erin Grundy’s oral argument.

In the case of State v. Garrity, the defendant appealed his conviction
for operating while intoxicated (third offense), contending the
district court erred in overruling his motion to suppress. The court of
appeals affirmed the district court’s conclusion that defendant had not
been denied his rights under Iowa Code section 804.20 (2007) (affording
an OWI arrestee a limited right to confer with a family member or
attorney). The defendant sought further review. The Iowa Supreme Court
is expected to rule on the case in the coming months.

After hearing the arguments in State v. Garrity and another case
(Koenig v. Koenig), the Iowa Supreme Court answered questions from
Drake law students who had been watching the proceedings. Students also
had the opportunity to chat with the justices in small groups during a
breakfast preceding the hearing.

“We pride ourselves at Drake Law School on teaching theory and
providing practical experiences for our students,” said Law School Dean
Benjamin B. Ullem. “Nothing better epitomizes that in action than these
real-life experiences.”

“This was an incredible experience for Erin Grundy,” Ullem added.
“She already has completed her first argument before the Iowa Supreme
Court — and she hasn’t even graduated from law school yet!”