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Erin Grundy addresses the Iowa Supreme Court.
Drake law student argues case before 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. The rule allows a law student enrolled in a reputable law school who has completed three semesters, to appear as counsel in the appellate courts as long as the student is under the direct supervision of licensed Iowa counsel who is present at the arguments and the appearance is part of an educational program approved by the faculty of the student’s law school and the Iowa Supreme Court.

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!”