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Judicial Nominating Commission begins process for selecting nominees for Supreme Court vacancy

December 13, 2018

The State Judicial Nominating Commission, which is responsible for selecting nominees for appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court, announced today it will begin accepting applications for the vacancy that occurred when Justice Daryl Hecht resigned effective today. The commission has sixty days from December 4, 2018, to send a slate of nominees to the Governor, who makes appointments to the court. 

The State Judicial Nominating Commission has decided to follow the advice of legal counsel. All current members will remain on the commission beyond the first of the year until their successors are appointed. The letter of advice from the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa is here.

The deadline for applications to be most favorably considered for balloting is January 16, 2019. Any citizen may submit in writing to the secretary of the commission, or to any commissioner, the names of persons for consideration as a candidate for nomination and express views concerning such candidate.

Any candidate who interviewed with the State Judicial Nominating Commission in July for Justice Bruce Zager’s vacancy on the Supreme Court and who wants to be considered for the current opening on the Supreme Court does not need to resubmit a new application and related information, but must simply send a letter to the secretary of the commission asking that he or she be considered for the vacancy with any supplements to his or her application.

Applications and notice to candidates can be obtained by contacting the secretary of the commission’s office at appellate.vacancy@iowacourts.gov , or (515) 348-4880, or Iowa State Judicial Nominating Commission Secretary, 1111 E. Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319.

Once the deadline for applications to be most favorably considered for balloting has passed, the commission will release the names of all applicants along with information about each applicant's background, experience, and qualifications.   This list and other information about the nominating commission and Iowa's merit selection process will be available on Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission website. 

The commission plans to meet January 30 to 31, 2019, to interview applicants and select a slate of nominees. If a candidate interviewed in July of 2018 for Justice Zager’s position he or she will not be given another interview.  The meeting will be in the Supreme Court Courtroom in the Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines. The interview portion of the meeting is open to the public and will be streamed live and archived on the Iowa Judicial Branch YouTube channel.

The 17-member commission is composed of a chair, who is the senior justice of the supreme court other than the chief justice, eight lawyer commissioners elected by lawyers licensed to practice law in Iowa and eight non-lawyer commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. With the exception of the commission chair, membership on the commission is limited to one six-year term. Terms are staggered. The Iowa Constitution requires that commission members be chosen without regard to political affiliation.

Iowa's process for selecting judges through the use of nominating commissions is known as merit selection.  Iowa voters approved the merit selection process in 1962 by constitutional amendment.  Merit selection is designed to emphasize the professional qualifications of applicants for judicial appointment and minimize partisan politics. In keeping with this design, the commission puts applicants for judicial office through a rigorous and thorough screening by reviewing extensive information about each applicant's background, education, professional skills, and experience. After the interviews, the commission sends the governor a slate of nominees. Iowa law requires nominees to be chosen "upon the basis of their qualifications and without regard to political affiliation."  The governor is required to pick the new justice from this slate.

Important Notice to Applicants: To be eligible for appointment to the court, a person must be a resident of the state, licensed to practice law in Iowa, and must be of such age that they will be able to serve an initial and one regular term of office before reaching the age of 72.

The names and addresses of the State Judicial Nominating Commission members and secretary are:

Chairperson
Justice David S. Wiggins
1111 E. Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA  50319
david.wiggins@iowacourts.gov

Secretary
Todd Nuccio
State Court Administrator
1111 E. Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA  50319
appellate.vacancy@iowacourts.gov

Elected Lawyer Members

Henry Bevel
528 West 4th Street
Waterloo, IA  50704-1200
bevel@s-c-law.com

Christine Conover
115 Third Street SE, Suite 1200
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
cconover@simmonsperrine.com

Martin Diaz
1570 Shady Court NW
Swisher, IA 52338
marty@martindiazlawfirm.com

Dorothy O’Brien
2322 East Kimberly Road, Ste. 100E
Davenport, IA  52807
dao@emprights.com

Jeff Goodman
1501 42nd Street, Ste. 300
West Des Moines, IA  50266
jeff@golawpc.com

Connie Diekema
699 Walnut Street, Ste. 1900
Des Moines, IA  50309
cdiekema@finleylaw.com

Suzan Boden
613 Pierce Street
Sioux City, IA 51102-1557
sboden@siouxcitylawyers.net

John Gray
1128 Historic 4th Street
Sioux City, IA  51102-1557
john.gray@heidmanlaw.com

Appointed Members

Kathy Pearson
150 Thompson Drive SE, #120
Cedar Rapids, IA  52403-1740
kpearson@kaas-emp.com

Lance Horbach
136 Hillcrest Ridge
Montezuma, IA  50171
lance.horbach@insurecentraliowa.com

Helen Sinclair
2208 560th Avenue
Melrose, IA  52569-8502
hsinclair@moes.biz

Steve Berger
1452 128th Place
Wellman, IA  52356
berger@netins.net

John Bloom
4820 Elm Street
West Des Moines, IA  50265-2995
john.bloom52@gmail.com

Kathleen Law
700 Walnut Street, Suite 1600
Des Moines, IA  50309
kklaw@nyemaster.com

Steve Sukup
1405 North Shore Drive
Clear Lake, IA  50428-1237
ssukup@sukup.com

Patricia “Trish” Roberts
732 San Salvador Avenue
Carroll, IA  51401
trroberts@hotmail.com

For More Information:

Contact: The State Judicial Nominating Commission through Steve Davis, Court Communication Director, (515) 348-4967 or steve.davis@iowacourts.gov 

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