By: Ryan Koopmans on March 11th, 2013
Before wrapping up its 2012-2013 oral argument calendar in April, the Iowa Supreme Court will hear two constitutional cases with potential national consequences.
Tomorrow, the seven-member court will travel to Sioux City to hear argument in State v. Kooima. At issue: whether, under the Fourth Amendment, a police officer may stop a vehicle based solely on an anonymous tip that the driver is drunk. That issue has split state and federal courts, meaning that the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision (whichever way it goes) may be ripe for U.S. Supreme Court review.
Then, on April 9, the Court will hear argument in State v. Ragland. At issue there: whether a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 60 years for a juvenile murderer amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that states may not automatically sentence juvenile murders to life without the possibility of parole. Following that ruling, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad commuted the sentences of 38 juvenile murderers from life without parole, to life with the possibility of parole after 60 years. Several of those offenders, including Jeffrey Ragland, think that’s still too long under Miller. Depending on what the Iowa Supreme Court says, this case could also end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
By: Administrator on October 19th, 2012
[The following summary was written by Nyemaster Goode attorney Colin Smith]
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a lower district court’s ruling that stated that a Missouri High School’s suspension and re-assignment of two students who created a derogatory blog about the school and fellow students violated the students’ First Amendment rights. In S.J.W. v. Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, the Court held that while students are entitled to First Amendment protections for speech generated on and off campus, student speech “targeted at” a school that has the potential to “materially and substantially disrupt” school orderliness is not protected.
By: Ryan Koopmans on April 22nd, 2012
Last Friday, a majority of the Iowa Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to Iowa’s public education system. The case is noteworthy for that ruling alone–especially this year ,when education reform is at the top of the legislative agenda. But the five separate opinions–totaling 163 pages–are about much more than education. Several issues surfaced in this case, chief among them constitutional interpretation and the role of the judiciary. The justices also wrangled over the proper application of the rational-basis test, issue preservation, and the pleading requirements applicable to a motion to dismiss. One posts isn’t enough to cover all of this, so I’ll go in stages–starting first with a general overview of the case.