The Criminal Appeals Section strives to keep in place the criminal convictions and sentences obtained by county attorneys and state prosecutors from the Attorney General's Statewide Prosecutions Section. By having attorneys who specialize in appellate work, the Attorney General is able to ensure the large volume of criminal appeals are handled professionally and efficiently. Not only do the criminal appeals attorneys work to keep Iowa's most violent offenders behind bars, they aspire to establish statewide legal precedents to keep Iowans safe, while preserving citizens' constitutional rights.
The section opens a high volume of new cases every year. In addition to direct criminal appeals, the division handles sexually violent predator commitment appeals, state post-conviction appeals, and inmates' challenges to their state convictions filed in federal court. Attorneys in the section regularly present oral argument before the Iowa Court of Appeals, the Iowa Supreme Court and the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The section serves several other functions as well. Criminal appeals attorneys advise the governor on extradition matters, help draft and review legislation affecting the criminal justice system, and keep registered victims up to date on the status of appeals. The section also works closely with local prosecutors, providing training, support and legal advice.