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Colin C. Murphy


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Recognized as a Great Plains Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters and a Top Attorney by Avvo (10/10), Colin Murphy has tried dozens of misdemeanor and felony cases to a jury over the last decade with numerous acquittals.  He has also obtained dismissals of more than 75 other drug and OWI charges through successful pre-trial rulings during the same period. 

Colin is a trial lawyer focusing primarily on defending those accused of possessing, delivering, cultivating or manufacturing marijuana and other narcotics.  He also helps individuals recover property that has been unlawfully seized through civil forfeiture, which allows Iowa law enforcement agencies to profit from large amounts of cash, firearms, vehicles and other property taken from innocent persons. 

Colin represents those charged with alcohol and drug-impaired offenses, ranging from public intoxication to OWI to vehicular homicide.  He is twice published in the area of OWI defense.  In 2014, he co-authored the first edition one of the few practice-specific treatises in the state, Iowa OWI Defense: The Law and Practice, published by Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company. He also wrote a chapter focusing on the use of indepedent forensic investigations, including crash data and blood alcohol analysis, in Defending DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases, 2013 ed. by Aspatore Books. 

He takes a keen interest in developing and litigating issues in traffic stops and other search and seizure contexts to expand the rights of the accused.  As trial counsel in State v. Pals, 805 N.W.2d 767 (Iowa 2011), he challenged the voluntariness of a detained driver's consent to search his vehicle under the Iowa Constitution.  The Pals decision is now one of the seminal cases on the issue of warrantless consent searches. 

Colin's knack for understanding and simply explaining complex scientific concepts such as infrared spectrophotometry in breath testing, headspace gas chromatography with flame ionization detection in blood and urine testing, statistical analysis and measurement uncertainty is well known throughout the Iowa state criminal defense bar.  The same can be said for his work in exposing drug K9 "alerts" that were either false positives or otherwise cued by the handler.  He is one of a few attorneys in the state who have successfully challenged a vehicle search based on these highly questionable "alerts."
As an appellate lawyer, Colin has briefed and argued issues of constitutional and statutory importance before the Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals. In 2012, he won Mitchell County v. Zimmerman, 810 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 2012), in which a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court struck down a local road-protection ordinance as unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. 

Memberships & Activities

  • NORML Legal Committee, 2011 - Present
  • National Cannabis Bar Association, 2018 - Present
  • National College of DUI Defense, 2008 - 2014
  • Iowa State Court Administration, District 2A Juduical Nominating Commission, 2014
  • Iowa Association for Justice, Board of Governors, 2009 - 2010
  • Iowa Association for Justice, Legislative Committee, 2008 - 2012
  • Iowa Association for Justice, Criminal Law Core Group, 2008-2012
  • Iowa State Bar Association, Criminal Law Section, Executive Committee, 2005-2008

Education & Background

  • Drake Law School, J.D. with Honors, 1996.
    • Research Editor and Member, Drake Law Review.
    • Member, Blackstone Inn of Court.
    • Legal Intern, Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Iowa.
  • Grinnell College, B.A. General Science-Biology, 1991.
Professional Certifications
  • Pharmacology of ETOH, Marijuana & Benzodiazapines, Certificate of Competency, Harrisburg, PA, 2011.
  • NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Practitioner Certificate of Completion, Denver, CO, 2009.
  • NPAS, BAC DataMaster and Basic Science of Evidential Breath Alcohol Testing, Certificate of Competency, Mansfield, OH, 2008.
  • Forensic Blood and Urine Testing, Certificate, Atlanta, GA, 2008.
  • Iowa OWI Defense: The Law and Practice, Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, 2014.
  • Causation in Vehicular Homicide, Defending DUI Vehicluar Homicide Cases, Aspatore Books, 2013.
  • Asleep at the Wheel - 25 Ways to Lose Winnable DUI Cases, 2013.
  • Litigating the Intoxication Defense, IWCAC Symposium 2019
  • Unreasonable Sniff and Seizure, Iowa Association for Justice, Criminal Law Seminar 2013.
  • Curbing the “Infallible” Drug Dog, Iowa State Public Defender, Criminal Law Seminar 2011.
  • Forensic Blood Testing in OWI Cases, Iowa Association for Justice, Criminal Law Seminar 2010.
  • Understanding Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, Iowa Association for Justice, Annual Meeting 2009.
  • Recurring Suppression Issues in Drug Cases, Iowa State Bar Association, 2007.


Representative Cases

This is a small representation of Attorney Colin Murphy's recent case results:

Recent Case Results

$100K Judgment in Story County for Unpaid Employee Compensation:   Court Awards Former Employee $50,000 in Past Due Wages and Additional $50,000 in Liquidated Damages.

Uncovering Officer Error Leads to WIN with DOT:   Ruling on Admissibility of Breath Test Works to Cut DOT Revocation Period by 12 Months

Drug Tax Stamp Felony WIN:   Trial Court Finds GRL Client Not Guilty of Felony Drug Tax Stamp Charge in Trial on Minutes

Zoning Map Key in OWI Traffic Stop WIN:   Zoning Map Helps Prove Illegal Police Conduct

Review of Video Leads to WIN in OWI Case:   Another Example of How Video Makes a Difference in OWI Cases

Record Methamphetamine Seizure in Story County Ends with Dismissal of Felony Drug Trafficking Charges:   Suppression of three pounds of pure ice methamphetamine with a street value of $150,000.


Had the Officer Stuttering and Side Stepping:   Cross Examination Skills on Display Earn Client Plaudits

Murphy Selected to 2019 Super Lawyers:   Back-to-back Selections in 2018 and 2019.

Highly Recommend:   Drug Defense Testimonial

Grateful Client:   Second Opinion Helpful

Excellent Attorney:   GRL Client Provides Glowing Testimonial

Other Blog Entries By This Author

Five Mistakes Drivers Make When Pulled Over While Carrying Marijuana:   Things to Keep in Mind When Traveling With any Contraband.

Murphy Presents on Drug Testing to Symposium:   Litigating the Intoxication Defense before the 57th Iowa Workers Compensation Symposium in Des Moines.

Optokinetic Nystagmus Induced by School Bus:   Video Calls Into Question Whether Nystagmus Observed by Law Enforcement is Caused by Alcohol or Other Factors.

The Straight Dope on Hemp-Derived CBD in Iowa:   Every time we come across claims by state officials, law enforcement and prosecutors that over-the-counter (OTC) products containing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) are illegal, we are reminded of the iconic scene in The Matrix.