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Colin C. Murphy


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Recognized as 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.  Mr. Murphy 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. Mr. Murphy 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. 

Mr. Murphy is a trial lawyer focusing primarily on defending those charged with alcohol and drug-impaired offenses, ranging from public intoxication to OWI to vehicular homicide, as well as 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.

Mr. Murphy 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. 

His 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 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, Mr. Murphy 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 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.
  • 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


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