DES MOINES — Iowa Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht announced Friday that he will resign from the court Dec. 13, citing his ongoing battle with skin cancer.
Hecht, 66, of Sloan, has been hearing oral arguments in Des Moines this court term while receiving treatment for melanoma in Sioux City and at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The court’s term began Sept. 4.
The associate justice was unable to be on the bench for this week’s oral arguments because of the side effects of the treatment, Iowa Judicial Branch spokesman Steve Davis said in a statement Friday. After discussions with his family, Hecht decided it was “essential for him to commit all of his energy to battling the disease,” Davis said.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement Friday, “I am grateful to Justice Daryl Hecht for his nearly 20 years of service to the state of Iowa as an appeals court judge and then Supreme Court justice. I respect and support his choice to focus on health amid this battle with cancer. I am sure the decision was not an easy one to make, and I wish him and the entire Hecht family only the best as they turn their full attention to his health.”
Hecht is married and has two daughters and three grandchildren.
Raised on a family farm near Lytton, Hecht received his bachelor’s degree from Morningside College in 1974 and his law degree from the University of South Dakota in 1977. He received his Master of Laws from the University of Virginia Law School in 2004. He then practiced law in Sioux City for 22 years before his appointment to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1999, where he served until his appointment to the high court in 2006.
Hecht is a past president of the Iowa Association for Justice and he also served as a board member for the Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, the Morningside College Alumni Association, the Woodbury County Judicial Magistrate Nominating Commission and the Woodbury County Compensation Commission.
Hecht also served as chair for the Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force, which recommended many changes to improve court efficiency and access to the courts. The task force’s final report was presented to the court Jan. 30, 2012, and some of the reforms have been implemented over the years, such as establishing the Iowa Business Specialty Court, which only handles complex civil litigation.
The justice was also involved in the study of civil justice reform at the national level as a member of the Civil Justice Improvements Committee appointed by the Conference of Chief Justices.
A statewide judicial nominating commission will interview applicants to replace Hecht and submit three candidates to Reynolds who will have 30 days to make the appointment. This will be Reynolds’ second opportunity to appoint a justice to the court. She appointed Justice Susan Christensen Aug. 1.
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