John is a native of Spirit Lake, Iowa. In 2010 John graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. While in law school John served as the Editor-in-Chief of the University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy and worked at a private criminal defense firm in downtown Minneapolis. John enjoys litigation and focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense, personal injury, and civil litigation. John practices in both Northwest Iowa and Southwest Minnesota.
John has obtained notable verdicts and settlements for those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of others, including: $4.2 million in 2019 against the States of Wisconsin and Iowa for juveniles who were placed in isolation for extended periods of time; $650,000 against a number of school districts for the sexual assault of a student by a teacher; and millions of dollars for a family who lost their parent in a tragic car crash in rural Iowa by a distracted driver. John is active in the local trial lawyer association, the Iowa Association for Justice (IAJ).
John M. Sandy was selected as a 2020 Iowa Great Plains “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine. Rising Star Designation is given to the top 2.5% of up-and-coming attorneys in the state who are 40 years or younger.
Over the past decade John has placed a special emphasis on OWI defense and very serious felony cases including homicides, kidnappings, arsons, drug trafficking, and sexual assaults. John is certified in both SFST (Standardized Field Sobriety Tests) and DRE (Drug Recognition) as well as the DataMaster DMT breath testing device. John belongs to the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and is a founding member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA). In addition, John attends frequent intensive forensic training in GC/MS at Axion labs in Chicago, Illinois. John frequently lectures at attorney training seminars throughout Iowa and Minnesota and serves as the President and Chairman of the Iowa State Bar Association Criminal Law Section. John is also the president of the Dickinson County Bar Association. John attends training at Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyer's College in Dubois, Wyoming.
John and his wife, Elizabeth, moved back to Spirit Lake in 2010 from the Twin Cities to join Sandy Law Firm. Elizabeth is a local realtor and when not in the courtroom or law office John enjoys spending time with his wife, three active boys and daughter, and sitting in the tree stand with a bow.
B.A. University of St. Thomas, 2007; Cum Laude
J.D. University of St. Thomas School of Law, 2010; Dean’s Honors
Sandy Law Firm, P.C. | Spirit Lake, Iowa | 2014-present, Partner
Minnesota Assistant Public Defender | District 5 | 2014-present
Sandy Law Firm, P.C. | Spirit Lake, Iowa | 2010-2013, Associate
Colich & Associates | Minneapolis, Minnesota | 2009-2010 Private Criminal Defense Firm
United States Federal Public Defender | Minneapolis, Minnesota | 2008-2009 Clerk
Iowa State Bar Association
Minnesota State Bar Association
ISBA Criminal Law Section—President and Chair
Dickinson County Bar Association-President
Board Director for Lakes Regional Healthcare Foundation
DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA)
National College for DUI Defense (NCDD)
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
Iowa State Court
Minnesota State Court
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa
U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
Iowa PERB Mediator
State v. Louwrens, 792 N.W.2d 649 (Iowa 2010)
State v. Lowery, 876 N.W.2d 814 (Iowa Ct. App. 2015)
State v. Dahl, 874 N.W.2d 348 (Iowa 2016)
State v. Morse, 878 N.W.2d 499 (Minnesota 2016)
Ney v. Ney, 891 N.W.2d 446 (Iowa 2017)
State v. Russell, 897 N.W.2d 717 (Iowa 2017)
Reed v. Palmer, 906 F.3d 540 (7th Cir. 2018)
(712) 336-5588, ext. 3