R. Ben StoneOf Counsel
Ben Stone prides himself on maintaining a special relationship with his clients. He is attentive to each one, and seeks to maintain constructive, two-way communications at all times. Regardless of what his clients need, he is determined to understand and do his zealous best to deliver them justice.
Mr. Stone grew up in West Des Moines, where he graduated from Valley High School. After receiving his B.S. degree in history from Iowa State University, he taught middle school in Illinois before returning to ISU to earn his M.A. in history, with a minor in philosophy. He then led a statewide student association for several years before entering law school at Drake University. After earning his J.D. with honors, he became an associate at Parrish Kruidenier before assuming the helm of the Iowa ACLU. He has been practicing law at Parrish since 2014.
Mr. Stone has also regularly taught college part-time for nearly 25 years. He has served as an adjunct instructor in Constitutional Law, Moral Philosophy and Logic at Des Moines Area Community College, American History at Drake University, and Communications Law at Simpson College.
As a volunteer activist, he has served on the state board of directors of One Iowa, Iowans Against the Death Penalty, and was the Chair of the Board of Christian Social Action at Plymouth Church in Des Moines. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Plymouth.
Mr. Stone lives in West Des Moines with his wife and three children.
- FIRST STATE APPEAL ACHIEVES RIGHT TO A NEW TRIAL FOR CLIENT SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE. My client, Chris Simpson, enduring a life sentence after a jury convicted him over six years ago of four counts of third-degree sexual abuse, sought a new trial. In the post-conviction case, which was heard by the Iowa Court of Appeals in February, I argued that the defense attorney representing Mr. Simpson had failed to object when the State elicited testimony from an expert witness who vouched repeatedly for the truthfulness of the state’s witnesses.
- On May 3, 2017, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and granted a new trial. It found both that Mr. Simpson’s trial counsel had been ineffective in failing to object to the expert testimony, and that the lawyer’s failure had prejudiced him. I emphasized that the lack of physical evidence or third party eyewitness testimony was key to finding prejudice, and the appeals court agreed. Mr. Simpson is now entitled to a new trial.
- A central Iowa man fighting addiction became my client after having lost a brother and a sister to heroin overdoses within the previous five months. He was accused of violating his probation, and faced five years in prison on several counts. After obtaining a continuance, we worked to get him considered for drug court, which he ultimately was denied. However, I helped convince his reluctant probation officer and the court that prison was not the best answer – that instead he deserved one last chance at drug treatment. After agreeing to a GPS ankle bracelet and other residential treatment restrictions, my client remained on probation, thus avoiding a five year prison sentence.
- Over the course of nine months, I represented a young woman with an extensive criminal history of drug abuse and crimes related to that abuse. I represented her on both a felony drug charge, as well as a probation revocation case. To her credit, she gained admittance to long-term residential substance abuse programs in northern and western Iowa. I helped convince the judges and the county attorneys involved to allow time for his client to demonstrate her commitment to sobriety, as well as to understand a few setbacks she experienced. In the end, I helped her receive a suspended sentence on her felony charge, while avoiding prison in her probation revocation case.
- I represented a 17 year old man charged with possessing a firearm on campus, which is a Class D felony automatically moved to adult court. I filed an extensive sentencing brief arguing that a deferred judgment with probation was a better and more appropriate punishment than a suspended sentence, which is what the state was seeking as a sentence. The judge granted the young man a deferred judgment despite an extensive juvenile record of delinquency and school disruption and misbehavior, thus permitting him the chance to avoid becoming a felon if he can successfully complete probation.
- My client faced a serious misdemeanor charge of Domestic Assault Causing Bodily Injury. The state’s plea offer involved his client pleading guilty to the reduced charge of simple assault, with a $65 fine. Instead of accepting the offer, I filed a Motion to Produce, and after reviewing the documents provided by the prosecutor, advised his client to go to trial. The charge was dismissed with prejudice less than a week before trial, sparing the client both a conviction, as well as the cost of repaying the state for his attorney fees.
- A Polk County man was arrested for felony domestic assault after he had filed an appeal bond in a separate OWI case. I became his lawyer. First the county attorney filed a motion to force him back to jail for violating the conditions of the appeal bond. I resisted at a hearing, and the judge ultimately refused to act on the State’s motion, and my client remained free. Meanwhile in the assault case, I first filed a motion to produce, then a motion to dismiss. Ten days before trial, the case was dismissed with prejudice. However, the dismissal order required the client to reimburse the State for the cost of his attorney fees. Using recent case law, I filed a motion to reconsider the sentencing order. Ultimately, the court revised its order removing the requirement that the Defendant repay the state for his attorney fees, thus saving him more than a thousand dollars.
- My client originally faced 12 years in prison on charges of Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon, a Class “C” felony, as well as Carrying Weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor. At the preliminary hearing, I aggressively questioned the police witness such that the judge became convinced that the state had failed to establish probable cause for the C felony charge — ruling instead that the state had only established probable cause for the lesser “D” felony version of Intimidation. The state declined to formally charge even the D felony when it filed its Trial Information. My client ultimately received a two-year suspended sentence on the carrying weapons charge.
- My homeless client was charged with Harassment in the 1st Degree, an aggravated misdemeanor. Due to a nearly identical, very recent prior conviction, the client remained in custody awaiting trial. The initial plea offer was for 90 days as charged, which was rejected. After filing a Motion to Produce and Notice of Intent to Conduct Depositions, as well as making some phone calls, I obtained a plea to Harassment in the 2nd Degree, a serious misdemeanor, with 48 days credit for time served and no fine.
- I recently represented a man on a disorderly conduct charge. After I filed several pretrial motions, including a subpoena for a witness the state no longer wanted to see testify, the charge was dismissed with prejudice. But when the judge ordered the client to pay attorney fees on the dismissed charge, I filed a motion demanding the judge reconsider, citing very recent case law forbidding the state from collecting court costs or attorney fees from defendants with dismissed cases. The judge filed a revised order, removing the provision for repayment of costs and attorney fees, saving my client over $700 in costs.
- One of my clients was facing a felony criminal mischief charge, a public intoxication charge, and a probation violation. A piece of equipment at a bar supposedly worth thousands had been damaged, and it was alleged the defendant had deliberately damaged it while drunk. My client eventually pled to only the misdemeanor public intoxication charge, with the felony criminal mischief being dismissed, and restitution at only $500. On the probation violation, Mr. Stone eventually got the contempt sentence reduced from 15 days to only five – enabling the client to keep his new job.
- I represented a man accused of participating in a conspiracy regarding forged checks. At the preliminary hearing, he argued to the court that the State had insufficient evidence to justify the charge, emphasizing that merely being friends with and hanging around the other accused persons did not constitute participation in a conspiracy. At the conclusion of the hearing, my client was the only one out of the four charged to have his charge dismissed by the judge.
- I recently convinced the prosecutor to dismiss felony assault and child endangerment charges against my client. Because of the significant collateral consequences faced by my client if he were to be found guilty, I declined to seek a plea offer and instead sought discovery and prepared to go to trial on the original charges. A few days before the case was to go before a jury, the state moved to dismiss the charges without costs to the defendant. The judge ultimately agreed to dismiss all charges, and Mr. Stone’s client was released from custody.
- “Understanding Police Use of Force,” a debate with former FBI special agent Alicia Hilton. Drake Law School. Sponsored by The Federalist Society and American Constitution Society of Drake Law School. April 25, 2016.
- Obergefelle v. Hodges: A Debate on Gay Marriage Decision with Senior Fellow from Cato Institute, Sponsored by The Federalist Society and American Constitution Society of Drake Law School. September 9, 2015.
- “Recent Developments in the Reasonable Use of Force” – Debate with U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Blackstone Inns of Court, Hoyt Sherman Place, May 14, 2015.
- “Criminal justice debt creates permanent underclass,” Op-Ed, Des Moines Register, May 13, 2015.