19 apply to be next Iowa Supreme Court justice, including three from Cedar Rapids area

10 women, nine men apply

The Iowa Supreme Court before an investiture ceremony at the Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines on Friday afternoon
The Iowa Supreme Court before an investiture ceremony at the Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines on Friday afternoon Sept. 21, 2018. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)

A Cedar Rapids judge, federal prosecutor and an Iowa City attorney are three of 19 applicants to fill the vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court left last month when Justice Daryl Hecht retired.

Women dominated the applicant pool last year with 15 of 22 who applied to fill the previous vacancy left by Justice Bruce Zager, but this time around it’s a nearly an even split with 10 women and nine men applying.

The applicants from Eastern Iowa, who also applied last year, are 6th Judicial District Mary Chicchelly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Williams, both of Cedar Rapids, and Craig Nierman, an Iowa City attorney.

Last August, Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Justice Susan Christensen as only the third woman to serve on the high court. The other two nominees also were women, and one of those nominees, 1st Judicial District Judge Kellyann Lekar, has applied again.

The State Judicial Nominating Commission will meet Jan. 30 in the Iowa Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines to interview applicants who were not interviewed for the last vacancy.

An interview schedule will be posted on the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission’s website. The public can observe the interviews in the courtroom and live on the Iowa Judicial Branch YouTube channel, where the videos can also be replayed.

Immediately following the interviews, the commission will begin deliberations to select three nominees. Those names will be forwarded to the governor, and she will have 30 days to appoint.

Each applicant’s application and interview, including any previous interviews from last year, will be posted on the Iowa Nominating Commission’s website. Public comments about the qualifications of the applicants can be emailed to or mailed to the Iowa State Judicial Nominating Commission Secretary, 1111 E. Court Ave., Des Moines, IA, 50319.

The 17-member commission is composed of a chairman, who is the senior justice of the supreme court, eight lawyer commissioners elected by licensed Iowa lawyers, and eight commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. For a list of commission members and details on the candidates for the state Supreme Court vacancy, visit

All applicants are:

• 7th Judicial District Judge Joel Barrows, of Bettendorf

• 5th Judicial District Judge Romonda Belcher, of Des Moines

• 6th Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly, of Cedar Rapids

• Jean Dickson, attorney with Betty, Neuman and McMahon, of Bettendorf

• Assistant U.S. Attorney David Faith II of the Southern District of Iowa, of Indianola

• Timothy Gartin, attorney with Hastings, Gartin and Boettger, of Ames

• 8th Judicial District Judge Myron Gookin, of Fairfield

• Cecelia Ibson, attorney with Ibson Law Firm, of Des Moines

• Christine Lebron-Dykeman, attorney with McKee, Voorhees and Sease, of Des Moines

• 1st Judicial District Judge Kellyann Lekar, of Waterloo

• Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Christopher McDonald, of Des Moines

• Craig Nierman, attorney with Phelan, Tucker, Mullen, Walker, Tucker and Gelman, of Iowa City

• Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren, of Muscatine

• 5th Judicial District Judge David Porter, of Johnston

• 5th Judicial District Judge Dustria Relph, of Corydon

• Elisabeth Reynoldson, attorney with Reynoldson and Van Werden, of Osceola

• 3rd Judicial District Judge Patrick Tott, of Sioux City

• Assistant Iowa Attorney General Molly Weber, of Adel

• Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Williams, of Iowa City

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