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Methods of Judicial Selection: Iowa

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court: 7
Court of Appeals: 9
District Court: 116
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court: -
Court of Appeals: -
District Court: 14 elective / 8 administrative
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: statewide
District Court: district
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
District Court: gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
Length of Term
Supreme Court: at least 1 yr
Court of Appeals: at least 1 yr
District Court: at least 1 yr
Method of Retention
Supreme Court: retention election
Court of Appeals: retention election
District Court: retention election
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 6 yrs
District Court: 6 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
District Court: gubernatorial appointment through nominating commission
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court: next general election after 1 yr in office
Court of Appeals: next general election after 1 yr in office
District Court: next general election after 1 yr in office
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: peer vote
Court of Appeals: peer vote
District Court: supreme court selects
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 2 yrs
District Court: 2 yrs
Qualifications
Supreme Court: licensed in state and member of Iowa bar; resident of state; maximum age of 72
Court of Appeals: licensed in state and member of Iowa bar; resident of state; maximum age of 72
District Court: licensed in state and member of Iowa bar; resident of district; maximum age of 72

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article V of the Iowa Constitution and Chapter 46 of the Iowa Code.

Note: The Unified Trial Court Act of 1973 established a unified trial court, the district court. The act abolished more than 500 justice of the peace courts, 899 mayor’s courts, 14 municipal courts, and 34 police courts. In addition to district court judges, the unified district court includes district associate judges, associate juvenile judges, associate probate judges, and judicial magistrates who exercise varying degrees of limited jurisdiction. For example, district associate judges hear serious misdemeanor cases of $10,000 or less, associate juvenile judges are limited to juvenile court matters, associate probate judges are limited to probate matters, and judicial magistrates hear simple misdemeanor cases of $4,000 or less within their county of residence. Currently, there are 116 district court judges, 67 district associate judges, and 133 magistrates.