Des Moines, May 23, 2018— The State Judicial Nominating Commission, which is responsible for selecting nominees for appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court, announced today it will begin accepting applications for the vacancy that will occur when Justice Bruce B. Zager retires September 3, 2018. The commission has sixty days to send a slate of nominees to the Governor, who makes appointments to the court.
The deadline for applications to be most favorably considered for balloting is June 26, 2018. Any citizen may submit in writing to the secretary of the commission, or to any commissioner, the names of persons for consideration as a candidate for nomination and express views concerning such candidate. Applications can be obtained by contacting the secretary of the commission’s office at email@example.com, or (515) 348-4880, or Iowa State Judicial Nominating Commission Secretary, 1111 E. Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319.
Once the application time has run, the commission will release the names of all applicants along with information about each applicant's background, experience, and qualifications. This list and other information about the nominating commission and Iowa's merit selection process will be available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website: www.iowacourts.gov.
The commission plans to meet the week of July 9, 2018, to interview applicants and select a slate of nominees. The meeting will be in the Supreme Court Courtroom in the Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines. The interview portion of the meeting is open to the public and will be streamed live and archived on the Iowa Judicial Branch YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL6EU7W8kqDKnKPUzMdxr_g .
The 17-member commission is composed of a chair, who is the senior justice of the supreme court other than the chief justice, eight lawyer commissioners elected by lawyers licensed to practice law in Iowa and eight non-lawyer commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. With the exception of the commission chair, membership on the commission is limited to one six-year term. Terms are staggered. The Iowa Constitution requires that commission members be chosen without regard to political affiliation.
Iowa's process for selecting judges through the use of nominating commissions is known as merit selection. Iowa voters approved the merit selection process in 1962 by constitutional amendment. Merit selection is designed to emphasize the professional qualifications of applicants for judicial appointment and minimize partisan politics. In keeping with this design, the commission put applicants for judicial office through a rigorous and thorough screening by reviewing extensive information about each applicant's background, education, professional skills, and experience. After the interviews, the commission sends the governor a slate of nominees. Iowa law requires nominees to be chosen "upon the basis of their qualifications and without regard to political affiliation." The governor is required to pick the new justice from this slate.
Important Notice to Applicants: To be eligible for appointment to the court, a person must be a resident of the state, licensed to practice law in Iowa, and must be of such age that they will be able to serve an initial and one regular term of office before reaching the age of 72. To be most favorably considered for balloting, an applicant must mail his or her application to the secretary of the commission postmarked no later than June 26, 2018. Simultaneously to mailing the application forms, the candidates for nomination must email to the secretary of the commission and all commissioners a PDF version of the completed application forms and a PDF version of any writing samples and other attachments to the application.
The names and addresses of the State Judicial Nominating Commission chairman and secretary are:
Justice David S. Wiggins
1111 E. Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319
State Court Administrator
1111 E. Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319