Students in the Criminal Law Clinic, under the supervision of the clinic’s director Robert Rigg, participate in the Iowa Sentencing Project, researching and publishing annual updates to the Iowa Criminal Statues Summary Chart (Chart). This sentencing “bible” is used by every criminal defense lawyer, prosecutor, and judge across the state and helps ensure the efficient, consistent, and fair administration of justice. Much more than a chart, this document is an essential tool to help lawyers and judges navigate the complex web of state laws.

Third-year students Natalie Massey and Elizabeth Gutsch worked on the updates this year. At the end of the 2023 legislative session, Massey and Gutsch worked closely with Professor Rigg and retired Judge Michael Mullins reviewing new laws to update the Chart.

Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Michael Mullins created the Chart as a newly appointed district court judge in 2002. As Judge Mullins’ docket grew and he was promoted to the Iowa Court of Appeals it became increasingly difficult to maintain the Chart. In 2016, he approached Drake Law School and Professor Rigg to see if there was interest in helping to maintain the project.

The first student to work on the Chart, 2017 graduate Kylie Crawford, began with major formatting revisions, converting the chart from an Excel spreadsheet to a document that was more user-friendly and able to include greater detail. The Chart has grown from a 15-page spreadsheet to a 500-page document with thousands of footnotes identifying amendments, applicable case law, and other critical information.

“I am proud of the Drake students’ contributions to this project,” said Professor Rigg. “Their work on the Chart provides incredible value to the entire legal community. It is an excellent example of the practical application of student research and scholarship.”