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Al Smith

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A Des Moines native, Al Smith attended the University of Iowa for both his undergraduate degree and for law school. He has taken multiple criminal cases to not guilty jury verdicts, had numerous convictions overturned on postconviction relief, and won multiple appeals. While at law school, he was an editor for the Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, and received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence for his performance in his Criminal Law class and his Torts class, for receiving the second highest grade in his class.  Mr. Smith speaks Spanish and provides legal services to the Spanish-speaking community of Iowa.  Mr. Smith stays involved in the community through his volunteer work at the HOLA Center legal clinic and through the Knights of Columbus.

Mr. Smith practices in immigration, mental health and firearms rights, criminal defense, postconviction relief and habeas corpus cases, and criminal appeals.

Representative Cases:

  • State v. Licona, Polk County Case No. FECR297238
    Al and Ben Bergmann represented a man charged with Burglary and Sexual Abuse. After a week long trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on both counts.
  • State v. Holmes, Black Hawk County Case No. FECR008128.
    Previous attorneys represented the client in a trial on the charge of Murder in the First Degree and the jury found him guilty. He was going to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. After a Motion for a New Trial, Al Smith and Robert Montgomery represented the client in a new jury trial. After hearing two weeks of evidence, the jury deliberated for an hour and a half before returning a verdict of not guilty.
  • State v. Griffiths, Polk County Case No. SMAC358479
    Al represented the client on a criminal jury trial. The State offered several plea agreements, but Al and the client refused, confident they would prevail at trial. After deliberating for about 40 minutes, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty.
  • In re N.L., Iowa Supreme Court No. 16-0094
    The client was accused of having a serious mental impairment and was civilly committed. Al represented the client in the magistrate court, the district court, and finally got the result the client deserved on appeal. The Iowa Court of Appeals agreed that Al’s client was able to make responsible decisions in regard to his treatment and was therefore not seriously mentally impaired. The Court of Appeals quoted Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” in regards to the State’s argument that Al’s client should be adjudicated seriously mentally impaired due to the simple fact that he did not want to be adjudicated seriously mentally impaired.
  • State v. Bennett, Polk County Case No. SRCR291487
    An Iowa man hired attorney Al Smith to represent him after he was charged with a drug offense as a Habitual Offender. If convicted, Al’s client was facing up to 15 years in prison, and would have to serve at least three years before he was eligible for parole. Al filed a Motion to Suppress, seeking to exclude all evidence of controlled substances because of an illegal search. The State voluntarily dismissed the charge shortly before the hearing on the Motion to Suppress.
  • State v. Flanders, Polk County Case No. FECR287986
    Attorney Al Smith represented a client charged with a Class C Felony as a Habitual Offender and an Aggravated Misdemeanor. If convicted, his client was facing up to 17 years in prison, and would have to serve at least three years before he was eligible for parole. During negotiations, the State offered 12 years in prison if the client would plead guilty. Al and the client rejected that offer. After Al conducted depositions, the State offered a substantially better plea offer to amend the charges down to two simple misdemeanors and time served, which Al and the client accepted.
  • State v. Zahn, Hamilton County Case No. FECR338124
    The client was charged with three class B felonies. Each offense carried a 25 years sentence and a 70% mandatory minimum sentence. If convicted at trial, client could have had to serve, at a minimum, 17.5 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. Al reviewed the evidence in the case and began his own investigation into the allegations. In negotiations with the prosecutor, Al was able to reach an agreement whereby his client pleaded guilty to two aggravated misdemeanors, each of which only carry a maximum sentence of two years. At sentencing, the court gave Al’s client a suspended sentence and probation.