I have a successful track record of negotiating fair outcomes in tough cases. I can point out the weaknesses on the prosecution side while showing the Judge why her clients deserve a chance. I’m also not afraid to go to trial when it is the right choice for my clients. I will take the time to explain all of your options to you, so that you can make an informed and supported decision.
Before joining the firm, I clerked for a Judge in the Northern District of Iowa. I have experience volunteering with Iowa Legal Aid, the Girl Scouts, and the Presentation Lantern Center. I worked my way through college and law school, and that work ethic will keep me on top of your case.
I live in Urbandale with my husband, daughter, and pup. In my free time, I cook and coach mock trial.
Jess is a rare “triple-threat” attorney – she is a great researcher and writer, she is great in court, and she is kind and patient with her clients.
Here is a sample of cases where people have trusted Jess her their most desperate hour:
- Brad Erdahl v. Ken Pirc et al., S.D. Iowa 4:18-cv-284, 8th Cir. 20-3011 Jess was appointed to represent Mr. Erdahl in his claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various Iowa Department of Corrections employees. Mr. Erdahl alleged that the employees denied him his right to practice Soto Zen Buddhism.
- United States v. Duane Maulding, S.D. Iowa 3:13-cr-48 Mr. Maulding was a federal inmate who was dying of cancer. Jess filed a motion for compassionate relief on his behalf, and convinced the government to stipulate to his release. As a result, Mr. Maulding was able to pass in the comfort of a nursing home near his family. For her work on this case, Jess was awarded the Washington Lawyers Committee Outstanding Achievement Award (for pro bono work on a successful motion for compassionate release of a prisoner).
- State v. Client name withheld, Polk County FECR347211 Jess’ client was accused of stealing trailers that a family member had parked in his backyard. After conducting depositions, it was clear that law enforcement had violated my client’s constitutional rights in trespassing into the backyard to check the trailer’s VINs. Jess filed a motion to suppress, and the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case. Client’s name is withheld as he is entitled to expunge his record.
- State v. Michael Connor, Polk County AMCR362965 Mr. Connor was detained in Texas and brought back to Iowa for a hearing on an alleged parole violation. At the administrative hearing, Jess was able to demonstrate that there was no evidence of a parole violation whatsoever. Her client was permitted to return to Texas and rejoin his family.
- Gibbs v. Walsh, Polk County DACV039129 Ms. Walsh’s client was the target of repeated abusive filings of petitions for domestic abuse filed by a former roommate. After researching the matter and filing a motion to dismiss on behalf of Ms. Walsh, the roommate agreed to dismiss the petition and not file any future petitions.
- Stephen Jonas v. State, Polk County PCCE083258, Iowa S. Ct. 20-1180 Mr. Jonas filed an application for postconviction relief concerning his conviction for murder in the first degree. Jess has represented Mr. Jonas at the district court and Iowa Supreme Court, attempting to correct errors made by his trial counsel and the courts. Jess continues to represent Mr. Jonas in a federal habeas corpus petition.
- Jeremy Cory v. State, Story County PCCV51147, Iowa S. Ct. 20-1112 Mr. Cory filed an application for postconviction relief concerning his conviction for murder in the first degree. Jess has represented Mr. Cory at the district court and Iowa Supreme Court, attempting to correct errors made by his trial counsel and the courts. Jess continues to represent Mr. Cory in a federal habeas corpus petition.
- State v. Client name withheld, Story County SMSM084162 and STA0155829 Jess’ client, an ISU student who has dreams of going to law school, unfortunately was arrested for underage drinking at a bar in Ames. Jess was able to negotiate a resolution where her client can have his conviction expunged, although he will still have to disclose the matter on his bar application! Client name withheld as they are entitled to clear their record.
- United States v. Meamen Nyah, 8th Cir. No. 21-1490, Sup. Ct. No. 22-5691 Mr. Nyah was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in a complicated case that resulted in his being shot. After Jess’ partner retired, Jess took over the case on appeal and filed a petition for writ of certiorari on Mr. Nyah’s behalf.
- State v. Jay Sawatzky, Boone County FECR111386 After the Parrish firm was able to get Mr. Sawatzky a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct, Jess partnered with Brandon Brown to defend Mr. Sawatzky’s criminal case. Mr. Sawatzky was found not guilty by the jury.
- State v. Benjamin Varela, Muscatine County SMCR061343 Jess partnered with Brandon Brown to defend Mr. Varela against an allegation that he used excessive force as a police officer. Mr. Varela was found not guilty by the jury.
- Trenisha Webster v. Jennifer Westlake et al., S.D. Iowa 19-cv-302, 8th Cir. 21-1552 Jess partnered with Brandon Brown to sue Des Moines Police Officers who wrongfully arrested Ms. Webster for exercising her constitutional rights. After Brandon and Jess won the right to take the case to trial at the district court, and defeated the defendants’ attempt to appeal the case, Ms. Webster was able to enter into a settlement with the City.
- State v. Client Name Withheld, Boone County FECR115508 Jess’ client, a high school student, was charged with two counts of theft of terrorism based on some out-of-context statements that he made to two other students with a history of bullying him. Jess was able to demonstrate that history to the prosecutor, and the state agreed to amend the charge to a simple misdemeanor. Client’s name is withheld because he will be able to expunge his record.
- Derrick Stewart v. United States, 8th Cir. 21-2791 Jess’ client filed a federal habeas corpus action because his sentence for dealing heroin was wrongfully enhanced. On appeal, Jess was able to convince the Eighth Circuit that the sentence was wrongfully enhanced, but unfortunately, the Eighth Circuit denied relief due to recent changes in Eighth Circuit law. Jess filed a petition for writ of certiorari on Mr. Stewart’s behalf.