I focus on civil rights, appeals, personal injury, and criminal defense (both state and federal). It is important to me to make things right if someone has been injured or treated unfairly. I believe that the rules apply to everyone and I am not afraid to hold people—including police officers—accountable when they violate someone’s rights.
I really care about my clients and appreciate that they are often under a lot of stress. I make sure my clients are informed about what is happening and the plan forward to help relieve at least some of that stress. I typically deal with complex problems that impact my clients’ lives in extremely serious and interconnected ways. I’m able to navigate those difficult situations to find the best outcome. I am hardworking and do not give up even when the deck is stacked against me.
Before joining the Parrish Law Firm, I worked closely with several judges. I worked for Judge Mary Tabor on the Iowa Court of Appeals, Justice Thomas Waterman on the Iowa Supreme Court, and Judge Stephanie Rose in the Southern District of Iowa federal court. Through these experiences, I gained valuable insight into how Iowa judges decide cases.
Originally from Oskaloosa, Iowa, I attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. At TCU, I participated on the TCU Track & Field team, where I ran the 400 meter hurdles and 800 meter races. I am a very disciplined person and I think that is largely due to participating in athletics at a high level. After TCU, I came back to Iowa and earned my law degree from the University of Iowa. I now live in Des Moines with my husband, Alex, and our two children. My parents still live in Oskaloosa, and I enjoy frequent visits back to Southern Iowa.
- Gina profiled by local community organization: Watch an interview with Gina regarding her civil rights and police accountability work: https://justvoicesia.org/stories/attorney-gina-messamer/
- Interviews suppressed in murder case: Gina convinced a district court to throw out 4 statements given by Gina’s client because officers violated the client’s rights. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2022/06/15/4-west-des-moines-police-interviews-former-iowa-professor-gowun-park-cant-used/7379504001/
- Dismissed case: A Polk County judge dismissed a criminal charge against an African American man represented by Gina. The judge agreed with Gina that the man should never have been approached by police to begin with, and so the police had violated the man’s constitutional rights. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2019/04/04/racial-bias-profiling-traffic-stop-black-prison-incarceration-civil-rights-iowa-police-kyle-thies-ia/2362251002/
- Not guilty verdict: Gina represented Cameron Lard, who was arrested allegedly in connection with the George Floyd protests. The court concluded the prosecution did not prove that Lard had violated any law. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2021/07/29/former-iowa-state-isu-basketball-player-cameron-lard-acquitted-2020-george-floyd-protest-charges/5418898001/
- Not guilty verdict: Gina represented a man who was arrested while observing one of the George Floyd protests. The court acquitted Gina’s client, finding the prosecution did not prove he had failed to comply with an order to disperse. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2021/04/08/george-floyd-blm-protests-des-moines-man-acquitted-arrest-merle-hay-mall-target-verizon/7120509002/
- Not guilty verdict: A Polk County jury deliberated for only 15 minutes before finding Gina’s client Keilon Hill NOT GUILTY of harassment of a public official. Mr. Hill was canvassing for a political candidate in West Des Moines when a local resident reported him as a “suspicious person.” Mr. Hill repeatedly asked the responding officer if he had broken any laws and received no answer. The officer arrested Mr. Hill after Mr. Hill asked the officer to leave him alone and walked away. The jury agreed with Gina that asserting your right to be left alone is not a crime. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2019/04/30/keilon-hill-black-campaign-worker-iowa-david-young-acquitted-harassment-public-official-wdm-police/3621793002/
- Murder conviction overturned: Gina represented a young woman who was convicted of killing her toddler and was serving a life sentence. Gina convinced the judge to overturn the 1st degree murder conviction and order a new trial for the client. The judge granted a new trial because Gina was able to establish that the client’s trial attorney made several serious errors at the client’s first trial. http://oskynews.org/ritenour-conviction-overturned-new-trial-to-be-held/
- Federal plea bargain: Gina represented a young man with federal charges for sex trafficking and a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He faced a mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and would have been required to register as a sex offender. Gina was able to convince the prosecutors to dismiss those charges and her client pled guilty to a much lower charge. He was ultimately sentenced to only 21 months in prison and will not have to register as a sex offender.
- Case dismissed because of Stand Your Ground: Gina represented a man who fired a warning shot because he thought people were poaching on his farmland. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case, recognizing that the defendant was justified under Iowa’s Stand Your Ground and defense of property laws.
- Not guilty verdict based on defense of property: Gina represented a woman who pepper-sprayed her neighbor because the neighbor repeatedly destroyed the woman’s landscaping. Gina argued to a jury that the woman was justified in her actions because Iowa law allows a property owner to use force to defend their property. The jury found Gina’s client not guilty.
- New trial because lawyer did not argue Stand Your Ground defense: Gina represented a man who had been convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon for bringing a gun to his door when someone was banging on his door late at night. Gina was able to vacate the man’s conviction because his attorney at trial did not argue to the jury that the man’s actions were justified by Iowa’s Stand Your Ground laws. A judge agreed the trial attorney screwed up. Gina’s client is now entitled to a new trial where Gina will raise the correct defense.
- Rape charges dropped: A young man was charged with sexual assault and was getting nowhere with his first attorney. He switched to Gina and Gina was soon able to uncover evidence that the accuser had a history of falsely claiming rape. After that evidence was discovered, the prosecutor dismissed the charge.
- Client released from life sentence: A federal court sentenced Gina’s client to life in prison for a relatively minor methamphetamine offense. This was back in 2007, when the laws against methamphetamine were even harsher than they are today. Gina became involved in the case in 2020 and argued to the court that her client should be granted compassionate release due to health issues. The court agreed and reduced the client’s life sentence to a sentence of time served, meaning he was released after only 14.5 years and got his life back.
- Charges dismissed: Gina’s client was a city manager who was charged with misconduct in office. The Court of Appeals concluded that Gina’s client actually hadn’t done anything wrong, and dismissed the case before there was even a trial. https://casetext.com/case/state-v-ward-42611
- Gina’s client reinstated to office: Gina represented a County Attorney who was removed from office due to alleged misconduct. Gina appealed the decision and was successful. The Iowa Supreme Court concluded there was insufficient reason to remove Gina’s client from office and ordered that he be reinstated as County Attorney. https://www.thehawkeye.com/story/news/local/2018/07/10/vb-county-attorney-gets-job/11553163007/
- Interview suppressed in murder case: A Polk County judge threw out the interview of Gina’s client because the detective did not read her client his Miranda rights and then ignored her client’s request to stop the interview. https://www.kcci.com/article/iowa-des-moines-murder-suspect-interview-with-police-tossed-out-miranda-rights/41781299
- $875,000 settlement to family illegally detained at police station: Des Moines paid Gina’s clients $875,000 to settle their claims that they had been unconstitutionally detained when they had done nothing wrong https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2023/02/02/des-moines-settles-with-family-police-detained-as-their-relative-preston-davis-died/69860058007/
- Court of Appeals finds police violated Gina’s clients’ constitutional rights: A federal appellate court agreed with Gina that officers violated her clients’ constitutional rights by detaining them and refusing to let them go to the hospital to be with their dying family member. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2022/05/10/qualified-immunity-des-moines-police-officers-denied-iowa-court-of-appeals/9718993002/
- $45,000 settlement to man illegally detained by Des Moines officers: Des Moines paid Gina’s client $45,000 to resolve his claim that he was detained in handcuffs even though officers knew he did not pose any safety threat https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2023/01/27/des-moines-city-council-approves-settlement-in-lawsuit-against-dmpd/69840381007/
- Civil rights lawsuit settlement: Gina settled a civil rights lawsuit for $75,000 on behalf of two African-American men who were wrongfully stopped by Des Moines Police. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2019/06/17/racial-profiling-des-moines-police-department-iowa-kyle-thies-jared-clinton-montray-little-settlemen/1460446001/
- Open records act violation: A judge agreed with Gina that the Des Moines Police Department spokesperson violated the Iowa Open Records laws by refusing to turn over body camera video. The court fined Sgt. Paul Parizek and ordered DMPD to turn over the records. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2020/10/14/judge-rules-des-moines-police-spokesman-broke-records-law-parizek-fine-body-cam/5966066002/