Public Safety

Former Linn County prosecutor sworn in as new 6th Judicial judge

Nicholas Scott appointed last month

Sixth Judicial District Associate Judge Nicholas Scott speaks during his investiture ceremony at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. Scott was formerly Assistant County Attorney in Linn County in the criminal and felony division. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Sixth Judicial District Associate Judge Nicholas Scott speaks during his investiture ceremony at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. Scott was formerly Assistant County Attorney in Linn County in the criminal and felony division. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Assistant Linn County Attorney Nicholas Scott was sworn in Wednesday as the new 6th Judicial Associate District judge.

“It’s incredible to be here and in this position,” Scott said after Associate District Judge Jason Burns administered the oath of office. “There were a lot of applicants, who were colleagues and friends, and I’m honored to be standing here today.”

The courtroom was packed Wednesday with co-workers, friends and family, including his wife Sarah and daughters, Zoe, 10, and Ellie, 8, and son Nolan, 17.

Caitlin Slessor, lawyer and friend of Scott’s, said she knew Scott would be a great judge and his common sense, sense of justice and his sense of humor would help him in his new role.

But Zoe and Ellie were confused when they found out their dad was appointed as a judge because “they only thought girls could be judges,” Slessor said laughing. They had only met judges who were women, she added.

Scott, 40, of Cedar Rapids, replaces Judge Jane Spande, who retired last month after 31 years on the associate district bench.

He became a Linn County assistant prosecutor in 2007 and handled many serious felony cases over the years. Before his time in Linn, Scott was an assistant Jackson County prosecutor from 2005 to 2006. He also was an associate attorney with Shuttleworth and Ingersoll from 2002 to 2005.

Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in 1998 from the University of Northern Iowa and his law degree in 2001 from the University of Iowa College of Law.

“Nic was an excellent prosecutor, dedicated and committed to the position, and always organized and well prepared,” Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said. “I’m sorry to see him go, but I think it speaks well of the office talent that the selection committee chose another prosecutor.”

Burns was also an assistant prosecutor before being appointed to the bench last year.

Vander Sanden said assistant prosecutor Rena Schulte, who was handling misdemeanor cases, was promoted last week to replace Scott in the felony division.

Schulte is the first woman to handle felony cases since 2009 but Vander Sanden says that wasn’t intentional.

“It’s a standing policy in the office to promote from within and not everyone shows interest,” Vander Sanden said. “The felony work can be long hours, it’s stressful and it’s not for everyone. Rena was ready for the position.”

Schulte, who grew up in Burlington, said she was “excited” about the move and always wanted to be a criminal prosecutor since she was a kid.

“I grew up seeing a lot of injustice and domestic abuse, and I wanted to be a lawyer,” Schulte said.

Vander Sanden said another change in the office is long time assistant prosecutor William Croghan, who handled most of the juvenile cases, is retiring at the end of the month after 27 years with the office. Assistant prosecutor Matt Kishinami was promoted to that division and Vander Sanden is looking for two new assistants to handle misdemeanors.

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