Local Attorneys Concerned About Bill Proposing Changes to Judicial Nomination Process

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Local attorneys are concerned that a new bill being proposed at the statehouse could inject more politics into the process of appointing judges to the Iowa Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Vacancies on those courts are filled by the governor who chooses from a list of nominees presented by a judicial nominating commission. That 16 member panel is made up of eight people chosen by the governor and confirmed by the Senate and eight members chosen via election by attorneys across the state,  two for each congressional district.

A bill introduced on Monday would eliminate that attorney vote from the equation. Instead, the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate and House would each choose two attorneys to sit on to the commission. Gov. Kim Reynolds says she supports the bill because non-elected attorneys shouldn’t have a say in picking judges.

Attorneys say the bill changes everything that is great about Iowa’s system, which keeps politics out of selecting judges.

“It’s a very strong system that we have in place. It ensures that the commissioners are looking at the qualifications of the individual who are applying for the judicial appointments, as well as their experience and their temperament,” said Bill Boyd of Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

Reynolds says she has no complaints about any of the candidates the current system has provided her.

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