Univeristy of Iowa Tailgating: The Enforcement Problems

The University of Iowa has recently adopted new policies related to tailgating during home football games.  They are being implemented to curb the drinking environment related to the tailgating atmosphere near the football stadium.  These policies include banning hard alcohol in all university lots, prohibiting drinking in all university lots an hour after the game has ended (recently defined as "when the stadium is substantially empty":  a definition that would make even non-lawyers question its implementation), clearing all lots 2 hours after the game has ended, and setting up sobriety checkpoints with the cooperation of local law enforcement.  While the spirit behind these policies is certainly well-intentioned, the implementation might be difficult.  Not only has the Johnson County Sheriff expressed dismay at the potential overcrowding of the county jail, but the legality of the sobriety checkpoints is questionable.

Iowa Code Section 321K.1 provides rules for vehicle checkpoints in Iowa.  The Code provides that vehicle roadblocks may only be conducted to enforce compliance with the law regarding any of the following:

a) The licensing of operators of motor vehicles

b) The registration of motor vehicles

c) The safety equipment required on motor vehicles

d) Compliance with provisions regarding transportation of wildlife.

The statute further provides other roadblock requirements, including safety, lighting, visibility, and a provision that the roadblock shall minimize the inconvenience of the motorists involved.  Further, the selection of motor vehicles cannot be arbitrary.  In other words, the roadblock cannot simply be in place for the purpose of checking the sobriety of drivers, the roadblock must be located in an area that is capable of handling the traffic from tens of thousands of fans, each car must be stopped (or some other non-arbitrary plan must be in place) and the area must be adequately staffed with officers.

Again, although these policies are probably a step in the right direction, their implementation and legality have yet to be determined.

 Go Hawks.

The Innocence Project of Iowa

In 2007, a group of Iowa attorneys, professors and students founded the Innocence Project of Iowa. The Project is designed to prevent and remedy wrongful convictions in the state through education, advocacy and litigation. With the creation of the Project, Iowa joins many other state and regional innocence projects that make up the national Innocence Network. There are currently at least 38 university based innocence projects in the United States.   The first Innocence Project was founded at the Cardozo School of Law in 1992.  Since that time, more than 200 people have been exonerated in the United States, including 15 individuals on death row. 

The Innocence Project of Iowa has no paid staff and relies completely on volunteers. Case intakes and initial screenings are completed by the paralegal program at Iowa Lakes Community College, and additional support is provided by students at Drake Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law. Utilizing the services of volunteer attorneys, the Project then provides pro bono representation to inmates with viable claims of actual innocence. An emphasis is placed on cases where DNA evidence is available. To date, the Project has identified two cases to pursue. Hopefully, the efforts of the Innocence Project of Iowa will increase the chances that more Iowa inmates will be exonerated for crimes they did not commit.  

 For more information about the Innocence Project of Iowa, go to www.iowainnocence.org