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I have introduced a bill to change the way we select the members of the district court judicial nominating commissions. You may recall that when there is a judicial vacancy, a commission recommends possible choices to the Governor to fill the vacancy. She must choose 1 of those recommended. In the case of a supreme court or appeals court vacancy, the commission gives the Governor 3 choices. In the case of a district court vacancy, the appropriate district court commission gives the Governor 2 choices.

The commissions originally were made up of equal members appointed by the Governor and elected by Iowa attorneys. A senior judge was also a member and chair of the commission. We changed the makeup of the state nominating commission a few years ago to remove the supreme court justice from the state commission and providing for the Governor to appoint an additional commissioner. The commission now elects its chair from its members. We did not change the makeup of the district court nominating commissions at the time.

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I have introduced a bill to change the makeup of the district court commissions to correspond to the change we made to the state court commission. The judge would be removed from the commissions and the Governor would appoint an additional commission member. The members would select a chair from their number. Several attorney members have pointed out that it is difficult for an attorney who tries cases before the judge who chairs their commission, to vote for someone other than the judge’s choice. I believe the change we made in the state commission has worked well and I believe making a similar change at the district court level will work just ass well. We will hold a subcommittee meeting on the bill soon.

Author: Julian Garrett

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