Letter: Lawyers should have role in nominating judges

Iowa Senate File 327, sponsored by the GOP and under consideration, would end lawyers’ role in nominating judges (“GOP bill would end lawyers’ sway in nominating judges,” Feb. 23).

The proposal reverses a long-standing and highly regarded process in the way Iowa selects its judges. This is a system that is not broken.

When there is a court vacancy an equal number of attorneys selected by the Iowa State Bar Association and gubernatorial appointees from many walks of life other than attorney (usually five each at the district level) join with a senior judge to thoroughly vet applicants. All vote on recommendations that are sent to the governor.

This process works and it limits political posturing and avoids big money elections.

Republicans argue the attorneys ride roughshod over the appointees. They want all voting members to be appointed by the governor with only one attorney present who may not vote.

I served on the District 8B Commission (Southeast Iowa) for 10 years — an appointee — not an attorney. All appointees I met from business, health care, education, law enforcement etc. (I am a retired prison warden) were savvy and seasoned in dialogue with the attorneys. The process is objective, reasoned and informed. The contributions of both entities are immeasurable.

Republicans should applaud the Iowa system as it is a model for the nation. They should leave well enough alone. This bill smacks of pure politics and not good governance.

Dave Helman


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