A Children’s Rights Center (CRC) case involving the recovery of expert witness fees is under review by the Iowa Supreme Court. Expert witnesses provide specialized knowledge and opinions that are essential for a fair and informed legal process. Recovering witness fees from the courts ensures that individuals, particularly those with limited resources, can access the expertise needed to protect their rights and present their case effectively.

CRC student attorneys Taylor Thomas and Payton Kitterman were tasked with appealing a district court’s decision to deny payment of expert witness fees in a case involving a CRC juvenile client in the fall of 2022. Their work could lead to a precedent-setting ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court regarding the recovery of expert witness fees in juvenile cases. At a minimum, their research will provide a foundation for professionals working on the issue in the future.

The lack of existing Iowa law and other material on the subject presented a unique challenge for Payton and Taylor. They focused their research on related topics in Iowa law and connected with interested members of the Iowa legal community to help develop their arguments, obtain feedback, and fine-tune the brief. “Payton and I appreciated the input of so many amazing professionals,” said Taylor. “Due to the lack of existing law, the research was new to all of us. We were all learning together.”

While the CRC team waits to learn if the Court will schedule oral arguments, Taylor and Payton agree that this experience has helped them develop a tool kit they will carry with them into their future careers.

“The practicality of this experience is my biggest take away,” said Payton. “The research and writing and the valuable feedback we received has helped us improve our skills. It also provided insights into other individual’s work styles. It’s been a very collaborative project.”

Taylor added, “The community connections and support have been invaluable. The knowledge we have gained has made us experts on the topic as law students. We are putting in the work so other people can build on it. Our work will have a real impact on how these matters and people are watching and listening.”