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History of Reform Efforts: Iowa

Formal Changes Since Inception

1846
Under Iowa's original constitution, the general assembly elected supreme court justices to six-year terms. District court judges were elected by the people to five-year terms.

1857
Supreme court justices elected by the people. Tenure of district court judges reduced to four-year terms.

1868
Circuit court created to handle all probate and minor civil and criminal matters. Circuit court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1876
Superior court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1915
Municipal court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1962
Merit plan established for selection of all judges.

1973
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, and created judicial magistrates. In addition, the commission on judicial qualifications was created to investigate complaints of judicial misconduct.

1976
Court of appeals established. Upon retention after one year in office, judges would serve six-year terms.

2007
Law signed by governor that reduces the number of candidates submitted to the governor from the judicial nominating commission.