Upper Iowa University professor awarded for innovative teaching

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FAYETTE, IA (03/22/2018) Upper Iowa University (UIU) Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Tiffany Kragnes was awarded the Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (TLS) Innovative Design Award during the recent 2018 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kragnes was awarded for the innovative teaching method she, along with UIU Associate Professor of Business Christopher Kragnes Sr., have employed with students working as legal interns on felony murder cases. In this capacity, students receive real-life experiences and work firsthand on a criminal case, while meeting weekly to discuss legal strategy and developments.

Tiffany Kragnes received a $50 cash award and a plaque of recognition during the awards ceremony. As part of the annual meeting, she was also elected to a three-year term as executive counselor for the TLS section.

Tiffany and Christopher Kragnes Sr. have employed their professional experience as attorneys to provide students a unique opportunity to assist in actual cases.

The initial case was a first-degree murder trial linked to a shooting that occurred in August 2015. The attorneys filed a notice of self-defense and the client waived his right to a trial by jury. The case went to trial on July 28, 2016, and concluded on August 19, 2016.

The second case concerned a drive-by shooting in Waterloo, Iowa. One victim in the shooting died, while two others were injured. Four individuals were charged in the case. One of those four, the Kragnes' client, was charged with Murder in the First Degree and two counts of Attempted Murder. The defendant pled guilty to Intimidation with a Weapon, a Class C felony, and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution.

Participating students, upon the clients' consent and after signing a confidentiality pledge and being trained and advised that they would be treated as law clerks and thus covered under the attorney-client privilege doctrine, were able to meet with the clients and attend all hearings and interviews. The students were provided an opportunity to direct questions to private investigators and other law-related professionals, such as toxicology experts. Students visited crime scenes and were given access to evidence and police reports. The result was an immersive collection of learning experiences.

Participating students may volunteer their time or receive course credit. Current or future UIU students who wish to learn more about participation in future experiences like these should contact Christopher Kragnes at kragnesc@uiu.edu or Tiffany Kragnes at kragnest96@uiu.edu.