Home Law School News 2013 First-Year Trial Practicum addresses wrongful death

2013 First-Year Trial Practicum addresses wrongful death

The First Year Trial Practicum (FYTP) case this year was a wrongful death case.

On June 15, 2008, a woman was killed in a crash with an Iowa National Guard bus involved in flood duty. Janice Brissey, 68, of New London died after the crash on U.S. 34 east of New London in southeastern Iowa about 7 p.m. Brissey’s car was stopped (or moving very slowly) on the highway. The bus crested a hill and hit the back of Brissey’s car.

The argument is whether the decedent was having a heart-related condition just prior to the collision that caused the accident, or whether the accident (and death of the decedent) was caused by the negligence of the driver of the Iowa National Guard bus.

Plaintiff was represented by trial lawyers Roxanne Conlin, LW’66, and Tom Duff, LW’88. The Defense (State of Iowa – Iowa National Guard) is represented by Assistants Attorney General Joanne Moeller, JO’80, Anne Updegraff, LW’96, and Christopher Klein.

Jury selection began on Monday, Feb. 4 and concluded at about 12:30 Tuesday, Feb. 5. Tuesday afternoon, both parties gave their opening statements, and three witnesses were called by the plaintiff: Levi Wegner (the decedent’s grandson), Kyle Wegner (the decedent’s grandson) and Russell Wegner (the decedent’s son-in-law). The case concluded on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

Drake is the only American law school where all first-year classes shift to a campus courtroom for a week, enabling students to view an actual state or federal trial as if in an educational laboratory. The trial practicum dissects every phase of a trial, from jury selection to jury verdict, incorporating small group discussions, lectures, practice panels and debriefings with attorneys, judge and jurors.

This event is possible only with the active cooperation of the judiciary, law enforcement, and the bar. A traditional event experienced in a revolutionary way, Trial Practicum is the most obvious example of Drake’s holistic approach to legal education. The Trial Practicum introduces the law to students in a way that no textbook can ever quite capture. Most importantly, Trial Practicum models the values of civility, professionalism and public service essential to the legal system.

For more information about the FYTP program click here.