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Judicial Selection in the States: Iowa

Overview

News

I mentioned in the last post on Arkansas Issue 1 that most states elect the clerks of their general jurisdiction courts. In all, a total...

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On the ballot this November in Arkansas is Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would make several changes to the terms, election, and eligibility of...

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The Oklahoma Senate yesterday approved its version of HB 3162, a constitutional amendment that would restructure the way appellate judges are chosen in the state...

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Learn more about the 74 Iowa judges and justices up...

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The Iowa judiciary is composed of two appellate courts--the supreme court and the court of appeals -- and the unified district court. Iowa judges are chosen through merit selection, where a nominating commission identifies a list of highly qualified candidates and the governor appoints a judge from that list. After one year in office, and then at regular intervals, judges stand in retention elections. Since Iowa adopted a merit plan with retention elections, seven judges have not been retained.

To educate voters regarding judges who are standing for retention, the web site of the Iowa judicial branch provides basic information such as year of appointment to the bench, prior legal experience, law school and undergraduate degrees, professional association memberships, and honors and awards. In addition, the Iowa State Bar Association conducts a poll asking its members whether they approve of judges who are up for retention. The results of the poll are made public prior to the election.