Supreme Court Celebration brings high-profile case to Drake campus

Drake’s 75th Supreme Court Celebration will start with a prominent case that has garnered national attention. On March 29, Drake University Law School will host the Iowa Supreme Court’s oral arguments in an appeal of Mark Becker’s murder conviction involving the insanity defense.

Mark Becker was convicted of killing Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas in 2009. A jury found Becker guilty of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison — despite his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments in Becker’s appeal in December 2011.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady speaks at the 2011 Supreme Court Celebration

Students will observe a second oral argument after the Becker case, this one involving medical malpractice. Arguments will begin at 9:00 a.m. in Sheslow Auditorium and will be followed by a question and answer session with the justices. The oral arguments will be live-streamed here.

“Supreme Court Week gives us a chance to honor the justices for their outstanding work to educate our students about the legal profession,” said Allan Vestal, dean of the Drake Law School. “I am not aware of any other law school that has the level of engagement from the judiciary that we see from the Iowa Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court Celebration is held annually to honor the Iowa Supreme Court for its commitment to justice and legal education and to recognize achievements by students, faculty, alumni and friends. This week’s events and others the Court supports during the year help law students become more familiar with appellate court procedure and their role in the justice system.

The Supreme Court Celebration banquet on March 31 is the culmination of the three-day event. The banquet is a longstanding tradition at Drake Law School that honors Drake’s relationship with the Iowa courts and legal community.

In addition, the final round of student arguments in the Supreme Court Competition will take place at the Iowa Judicial Branch Building on March 31. Each year, outstanding advocates in the law school compete in the Supreme Court Competition for the honor of being one of four students to present final arguments to the Iowa Supreme Court. The competition is based upon a real case, using an actual record that at one time was pending before the Iowa Supreme Court, thus giving competitors a realistic experience.

Other Supreme Court Celebration events include the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law Dinner on March 29, the Drake Law Review Dinner on March 30 and the Drake Moot Court luncheon on March 31. For more information click here.

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