Students and teachers can now find a one-stop resource for a better understanding of the importance of the United States and Iowa Constitutions. The Constitution 2023 page on the Iowa Judicial Branch website includes videos, podcasts, and discussion guides. The resource page is a joint effort of the judicial branch and The Iowa State Bar Association and can be found at https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/supreme-court/constitution-day-2023/.
The resource page gives students the materials to study a real Iowa court case with constitutional issues, State of Iowa v. Jerry Lynn Burns. The case had gone to trial and was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court last year. The case considered the constitutional rights of a man who was convicted for murder after police collected a straw he threw away at a restaurant. In the case, detectives were able to match the man’s DNA on the straw to a 40-year-old cold case in which an 18-year-old woman was murdered in a mall parking lot. To help students discover more about the Burns case, they can download a case summary that looks at the legal issues, the discussion topics, the appellate briefs prepared by the attorneys for the State of Iowa as well as the attorney for Mr. Burns, a video of the oral arguments where the justices asked questions of the attorneys, and the final opinion of the supreme court that explains in detail how the court reached its decision.
The resource page has a welcome video by Chief Justice Susan Christensen and links to podcasts with interviews with supreme court justices about the United State and Iowa Constitutions. The podcasts include interviews with Justice Dana Oxley about the similarities and differences of the United States and Iowa Constitutions, retired Justice Brent Appel about the Iowa Constitution, Justice Edward Mansfield about how the Iowa Supreme Court selects its caseload, and Chief Justice Christensen recognizing this year’s 60th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court case Gideon v Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court ruled that state courts are constitutionally required to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who cannot afford an attorney.
The resource page includes links to the United State and Iowa Constitutions and will remain active until Constitution Day 2024, when a new case is chosen for students to study and additional resource materials are added.
For More Information:
Iowa Judicial Branch