Iowa Appeals Court to Hear Oral Arguments at Grand View University

January 26, 2018

The Iowa Court of Appeals will be holding oral arguments on the Grand View campus, 2811 East 14th St., Des Moines, on February 21 at 1:30 p.m. in the Student Center, Viking Theatre. The court will hear two cases over an hour and take questions from the audience afterwards. The hearings are open to the public and the Court encourages people to attend.

The court will hear attorneys argue the cases of State v. Lee Christensen, an Emmet County case, and Helmers v. City of Des Moines, a Polk County case.

Case context:

17-0085 State v. Christensen

Lee Samuel Christensen appeals from his conviction for second-degree murder, claiming he should be granted a new trial based upon juror misconduct and jury bias. He asserts social media posts affected the jury’s deliberations. He also contends the prosecutor improperly questioned a witness and the court’s curative jury instruction was not sufficient to purge the prejudicial effect of the testimony.

17-0794 Helmers v. City of Des Moines 

Dianna Helmers challenges the City of Des Moines’ seizure and confinement of Pinky, a seven-year-old mixed-breed dog, and declaration that Pinky is dangerous. She contends the city’s animal ordinances violate due process. 

The Iowa Court of Appeals is an intermediate appellate court. It reviews appeals from trial court decisions that have been transferred to the court of appeals by the Supreme Court. The panels for the cases to be heard at Grand View will consist of five judges, including 1997 Grand View alumnus, Judge Christopher Lee McDonald. A decision of the Iowa Court of Appeals is final unless reviewed by the Iowa Supreme Court on grant of further review.  Some opinions of the Iowa Court of Appeals are published and become precedent for subsequent cases. The majority of appeals filed in Iowa are decided by the Court of Appeals.

Appeals cases are a multi-judge review of a single judge’s decision. There are no jury members at these proceedings. Typically, the court of appeals decides cases with randomly selected panels that change in composition every three months. The appellate court process will allow Grand View students, faculty, staff, and the public to develop a perspective on how courts operate. For more information about the Iowa Court of Appeals and the Iowa court system, visit the The Iowa Judicial Website.        

Note to news media

News media are invited to attend the oral arguments. Court rules apply regarding still camera, video camera, audio recording devices, and other electronic devices used during the oral arguments.  Information on expanded media coverage is available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website HERE

The Iowa Court Rules regarding cameras and other electronic devices in courtrooms are on the Iowa Legislature website HERE