Ben Ullem and Stephen Rapp
Drake Law School students, faculty, staff and alumni recently gathered with law professionals, friends of the University and seven Supreme Court justices to celebrate Drake’s accomplishments.
The celebration featured a keynote speech by Stephen Rapp, LW’74, prosecutor of the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Rapp, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, discussed his experiences prosecuting defendants charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. His speech was titled “But You Cannot Bring Them Back: Reflections on Justice for Victims of the Greatest Crimes.”
“Stephen’s presentation was compelling,” said Dean Benjamin Ullem. “Rarely is a room totally quiet as it was when he talked, explaining that bringing the rule of law to bear upon lawlessness can have profound results.”
Both Rapp and Sheila Tipton, LW’80, were honored with Alumni of the Year Awards during the banquet.
“It is rare that our Supreme Court Celebration Speaker is chosen to receive the Alumni of the year Award — but this is a special occasion!” said Law School Dean Ben Ullem. “In giving this award, we recognize the profound impact one of our distinguished alums is having on the world scene.”
Rapp and The Special Court for Sierra Leone currently are working on the case against the notorious former Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose trial is being held at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Tipton, who earned her juris doctorate with honors from Drake Law School in 1980, is a partner with the Des Moines firm of Belin Lamson Zumbach and Flynn. She practices utility law in areas including energy, telecommunications, water, corporate, administrative and employment.
An active member of many organizations, Tipton serves on the Drake Law School Board of Counselors, the Iowa State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. She is also involved with the Legal Aid Society, Youth Homes of America and the Rotary Club, among others.
“We could not be more proud and honored to bestow the Alumni of the Year Award upon a more deserving, compassionate, caring and noble member of our profession than Sheila Tipton,” Ullem said.
Finalists in the annual Supreme Court Celebration Moot Court Competition also were recognized at the recent celebration.
Third-year law student Erin Grundy won the competition and received the Rodney L. Hudson Appellate Advocacy Award. She also recently presented oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court at a hearing held at Drake.
The award is named in honor of Hudson, who was a 1916 graduate of Drake Law School, and made possible by Rodney Hudson’s daughter, Peggy Rastetter and his grandson, Richard Rastetter, Jr., a 1972 graduate of the law school.
The other finalists, all third-year law students, were:
- Meggan Guns
- Kevin Teets
- Miriam Van Heukelem
The finalists received a Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors and Roberts Award of Excellence. The award recognizes their accomplishments in reaching the finals of the competition and the high level of skill demonstrated during the arguments.
Two special portraits painted by Des Moines artist Mary Muller were unveiled in honor of Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Chief Justice Louis Lavorato. They will join 15 portraits of distinguished honorees on the wall of fame in the Law School’s Cartwright Hall.
The celebration marked the first time a woman’s portrait has been unveiled and Ternus’ portrait will represent women among the group. In recognition of this inaugural portrait, students in Drake Law Women helped fund the artwork and assisted in the unveiling.
Drake also recognized Stacey Tovino, associate professor of law and director of the Health Law and Policy Center, with The Leland Forrest Outstanding Professor of the Year Award.
She was selected by third-year law students to receive the honor for her contributions to the quality of legal education both in and outside of the classroom. She will lead the class into the graduation ceremony this May.
“Although she joined our Drake family not too long ago, she has clearly made an impact on her students,” Ullem said.