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Iowa Supreme Court Assigns Three Iowa Business Specialty Court Judges

November 13, 2023

The Iowa Supreme Court has selected District Judge Rustin Davenport, Mason City, District Judge David Odekirk, Waterloo, and Senior Judge Michael Schilling, Burlington, as Iowa Business Specialty Court judges. They will join current business court District Judges Jeffery Bert, Sarah Crane, Lawrence McLellan, David Nelmark, and John Telleen as Iowa Business Specialty Court judges.

The primary aim of the Iowa Business Specialty Court is to move business or complex commercial cases through the court system expeditiously, with lower costs for litigants, and with more efficient use of judicial branch resources.

Since its inception on May 1, 2013, the Iowa Judicial Branch has assigned 204 cases to the business court. Forty-two of those cases have been assigned this year alone to date. This substantial increase in cases demonstrates the overall success of the business court and has necessitated the addition of these three judges to the business court.

The supreme court based its selection of Judge Davenport, Judge Odekirk, and Senior Judge Schilling based on the judges’ educational background, judicial and trial practice experience in business and complex commercial cases, and personal interest in the business court.

Businesses and attorneys benefit from the business court’s published body of case law that will promote consistency and predictability. Judges benefit from the development of substantial expertise in the management of complex business litigation. The court system as a whole benefits from the business court’s role as an incubator of innovative court practices.

District Judge, Rustin Davenport

“The Iowa Business Specialty Court provides Iowans and businesses operating in Iowa an opportunity to resolve complex cases in an efficient manner. I am excited to serve on the business court, and to take part in providing this service to Iowans.”

Judge Davenport, Mason City, was appointed to the bench in October of 2010. He earned his undergraduate degree from Drake University in 1982 and his law degree, with Distinction, from the University of Iowa in 1985. Judge Davenport was a law clerk for the Second Judicial District from 1985–1986, and a law clerk for the Honorable David R. Hansen, United States District Court Judge, Northern District of Iowa from 1986–1988. Judge Davenport was in private practice from 1988–2010. He previously served as President of the Iowa Judge’s Association, and is a member of the American Bar Association, Iowa State Bar Association, Judicial District 2A Bar Association, and the Cerro Gordo County Bar Association.

District Judge, David Odekirk

“It is an honor to be appointed to Iowa’s business court and the opportunity to continue serving Iowa in this additional capacity. I look forward to working alongside the other members and staff of the business court as it continues to provide Iowa’s business community with an efficient, fair and cost effective forum to resolve complex disputes.”

Judge Odekirk is a district judge in the First Judicial District. He was appointed to the district court bench in 2014 after practicing in Waterloo, Iowa for over 20 years in the areas of civil litigation and trial work involving a wide variety of civil matters. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Iowa in 1989 and his law degree from the University of Iowa in 1993. Following his graduation from law school he returned to his hometown of Waterloo with his wife to begin his law practice and raise their three children. In addition to his law practice, Judge Odekirk was active in his community serving on various state and local boards. He is currently the immediate past president and member of the Iowa Judge’s Association as well as a member of the Black Hawk County Bar Association, Iowa State Bar Association, and American Bar Association.

Senior Judge, Michael Schilling

“My nine years of experience as a specialty court judge (drug court) taught me that specialty courts are uniquely suited to serve the citizens of Iowa. I look forward to joining the dedicated team of business court judges and staff, and serving the lawyers and litigants who trust in the business court to fairly and impartially resolve disputes.”

Michael J. Schilling is a senior judge for the Eighth Judicial District. Appointed to the bench in 2006, Judge Schilling took senior status in 2023. He graduated with honors from the University of Iowa in 1973. In 1976, Judge Schilling graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law with distinction. While in law school, he participated in the Journal of Corporation Law and the regional and national Client Counseling Competition. Following graduation from law school, Judge Schilling served as a VISTA volunteer lawyer on the three Native American reservations in Nebraska. He then served as an Assistant Public Defender before entering private practice. Judge Schilling enjoyed an active criminal and civil trial practice for almost 30 years. Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Schilling has served on several committees, including the Iowa Supreme Court’s Civil Justice Reform Task Force and the Eighth Judicial District’s Mediation Committee. Judge Schilling served as drug court judge for several counties for about nine years, ending in December 2018. He is a member of the Des Moines County, Iowa State, and American Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society, and the Iowa Judges Association. He serves as a fourth-grade religious education instructor for his church. He enjoys running, writing, reading history, and making memories with his wife of 35 years, their three children, and three grandchildren.

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