Each year for the past eight years, The Iowa Supreme Court (the Court) has done Court on the Road tours where they hear oral arguments in communities across Iowa. On September 10th, 2019, the Court paid its first visit to Muscatine, hearing State of Iowa v. Lamar Cheyeene Wilson in the Muscatine High School (MHS) auditorium. In addition to holding court in Muscatine, the justices also visited area schools.
The evening of the 10th, approximately sixty area residents turned out to view the Court’s proceedings. In the course of about an hour, the court heard arguments from Wilson’s attorney that he should have a retrial for his voluntary manslaughter, assault with the intent to cause serious injury, and intimidation with a dangerous weapon charges. His attorney claimed that because Iowa law gives protection to people who use a gun in self defense, he should have had a pre-trial hearing to determine if he used it in self defense or not. The court also heard arguments from the State of Iowa’s attorney that Wilson misinterpreted the meaning of the Iowa’s self defense statute and that he did have a fair trial.
Once arguments concluded, Chief Justice Mark Cady shared that in the months to come, the Court will rule on Lamar’s case after doing further research on it, and that anyone interest in reading the Court’s final decision can find it at https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/supreme-court/supreme-court-opinions/. He also thanked everyone who came for coming and learning more about the Court. He stated he felt grateful for the audience’s, “attendance tonight. We understand that you could be doing a lot of things with your night, and you chose to spend it with us, and we are very appreciative of that.” He also hoped everyone benefited from seeing, “ the way we do our work and maybe [gained] a better understanding of how we do our work and what our role is in our important government.”
Following oral arguments, the justices held a reception in MHS’s Commons. Students from the Muscatine Community College Culinary Arts Academy served cookies and fruit trays they had prepared to all who attended.
On the mornings before and after the Court convened in Muscatine, the seven justices made a point of visiting area schools, including MHS, McKinley Elementary, Louisa Muscatine Junior-Senior High School, Wilton High School, and West Liberty High School. At each visit, the justices spoke about how they became judges, as well as what the Iowa and US Supreme Courts do, adding another layer of meaning to their visit to Muscatine.