From Thailand to the South Side of Des Moines: Iowa Judge About to Make History

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DES MOINES, Iowa–The Iowa Supreme Court has never had a justice who was not white. Christopher McDonald will change that in a few weeks. Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that McDonald, a native of Thailand, will fill the vacant seat on the court.

“On the bench, Judge McDonald has earned a reputation as a brilliant and thoughtful jurist, a hard worker and a good colleague,” Reynolds said.

McDonald currently serves on the Iowa Court of Appeals and said he will finish his work there over the next few weeks.

He was born in Thailand and grew up on Des Moines’ south side, graduated from Grand View University and earned his law degree from the University of Iowa. McDonald acknowledged the historic nature of his appointment. “I know as the first minority or person of color appointed to the supreme court, people will have special expectations for me in terms of leadership and mentorship,” McDonald said, “I understand that. I appreciate that. I embrace these expectations and I’ll certainly do my best to meet and exceed them.”

McDonald will replace Daryl Hecht who retired from the court in December as he battles cancer.


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