Judicial selection in Iowa

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Iowa
Seal of Iowa.png
Iowa Supreme Court
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   8 years
Iowa Court of Appeals
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years
Iowa District Courts
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years

Judges in Iowa are chosen via Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection. This method is also referred to as the Missouri Plan.[1]


Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and District Courts

The Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission accepts applications and interviews potential applicants for vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals. There are thirteen nominating commissions screening of applicants for vacancies on the Iowa District Courts.

Within sixty days of receiving notice of the vacancy from the Secretary of State, a commission must forward three nominees to the Iowa Governor, who will appoint one to the court.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

For district associate judges, associate juvenile judges, and associate probate judges, a magistrate appointing commission submits nominees. They are then appointed by the judges of that district. Magistrate judges are appointed by the magistrate appointing commission.[1]

Retention elections

After one year in office, and then at regular intervals, judges must stand for retention. If retained, they then serve a full term.[2]

Iowa is one of twenty-one states in which the Chief Justice is elected by other justices.
State Elected by other justice Term
Alaska Yes Three years
Arizona Yes Five years
Colorado Yes Indefinite
Florida Yes Two years
Georgia Yes Four years
Idaho Yes Four years
Illinois Yes Three years
Iowa Yes Eight years
Kentucky Yes Four years
Michigan Yes Two years
Missouri Yes Two years
New Mexico Yes Two years
Oklahoma Yes Two years
Oregon Yes Six years
South Dakota Yes Four years
Tennesee Yes Two years
Utah Yes Four years
Virginia Yes Four years
Washington Yes Four years
West Virginia Yes One year
Wyoming Yes Four years


  • Supreme Court - Eight year term
  • Court of Appeals - Six year term
  • District Courts - Six year term[2]

2010 judicial elections

For the first time since the Missouri Plan was adopted in 1962, three justices were not retained in the 2010 judicial elections. For more information, read this report.

Qualifications for judgeships

  • Supreme Court and Court of Appeals
Licensed to practice law in the state
Member of the Iowa Bar
Resident of the state
Less than 72 years of age
  • District Court
Licensed to practice law in the state
Member of the Iowa Bar
Resident of the district
Less than 72 years of age[2]

See also

External links