This article was updated 4 p.m. Jan. 29. It included incorrect information about the last time two women served on the court at the same time.
DES MOINES — Dana Oxley, a Cedar Rapids lawyer with a “uniquely Iowa story,” will join the state Supreme Court, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday, marking the first time two women have served at the same time since 2003.
“She will be a valuable new addition to the Iowa Supreme Court. I look forward to watching her serve Iowans in this important role for years to come,” the Republican governor said in introducing Oxley at a Statehouse news conference.
Oxley, 52, of Swisher, a lawyer with Shuttleworth and Ingersoll, said she welcomed the opportunity and promised to uphold the Iowa Constitution and make decisions fairly and impartially.
“To the citizens of Iowa, I sought this appointment to serve you,” Oxley said. “I accept this appointment with great humbleness and honor.”
Oxley fills the vacancy left by Chief Justice Mark Cady, 66, who died of a heart attack Nov. 15.
Reynolds, in making Tuesday’s announcement, said it had been only about 10 weeks ago that many Iowans were “shocked and heartbroken” to learn about Cady’s unexpected death.
“Our state mourned with his family, friends and colleagues,” Reynolds said. “And we will always remember his legacy of public service as we carry on.”
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Reynolds said she had heard from people across the state about the three nominees sent to her to choose among by the State Judicial Nominating Commission.
“I take this responsibility seriously,” Reynolds said. “I look for someone who is thoughtful and loves the law, someone who is a good writer, someone with a strong work ethic, someone who understands the proper role of the courts, and again respects the rule of law. And I found her.”
Back in Cedar Rapids, Sam Jones, a lawyer and partner of Oxley’s at Shuttleworth, after hearing the announcement, said, “She is one of the smartest people I have ever worked with and encountered. She will make an excellent justice.”
Jones, who has worked with Oxley over the last eight years, said she is a “practical problem solver who will bring a common-sense approach” to the bench.
He said he was on the phone with a client when he heard screaming down the hall. He hung up and discovered the co-workers were just finding out the news and were celebrating.
“We’re so proud and happy for her, but it’s also bittersweet because we will all miss her as a partner,” Jones said. “She has been fun to have as a mentor and collaborator.”
Oxley joined Shuttleworth and Ingersoll in 1999 but then left in 2001 to be a law clerk for Judge David R. Hansen on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. When Hansen retired in 2011, Oxley returned to resume her career at Shuttleworth practicing civil litigation. She is also an adjunct law professor at the University of Iowa College of Law in Iowa City.
Oxley received her law degree from the UI College of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
In her application for the opening, Oxley told of her Iowa roots.
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“I grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa to parents who instilled in me a strong work ethic and a positive outlook on life,” she wrote. “I learned early, and by example, to have compassion for others, to respect my elders, to take responsibility for my actions, to see the positive in any situation, and to never complain about a problem but to look for a solution.”
Oxley is Reynold’s third appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court so far. The nominating commission is accepting applications until Feb. 21 to replace Acting Chief Justice David Wiggins when he retires March 13.
With his replacement, Reynolds will have named a majority of the court’s justices.
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Erin Murphy of The Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau contributed.