Government

List 3 names goes to governor of next Iowa justice

List includes Cedar Rapids lawyer Dana Oxley

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DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds now has three people — including a Cedar Rapids lawyer — to consider for an appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The 17-member State Judicial Nominating Commission on Thursday interviewed the seven men and five women who had applied to become the justice succeeding Chief Justice Mark Cady, who died Nov. 15.

After the interviews, the commission forwarded three finalists:

• Cedar Rapids lawyer Dana Oxley

• Joel Barrows, a district court judge from Bettendorf

• Des Moines lawyer Matthew McDermott

Oxley, 52, a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, is a lawyer at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll. She clerked for U.S. Judge David Hansen on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for 10 years and taught courses at the UI College of law from 2007 to 2011.

“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 in her application. “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.”

Barrows, 59, received a bachelor of arts degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, later earning law degrees from Drake University Law School in Des Moines and Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

He also is the author of several crime novels.

“I am proud to be a small-town Iowan raised by small-town Iowans,” he wrote in his application. “I grew up in Folletts and Camanche, both in Clinton County. My parents were children of the Depression who worked hard and eventually built a successful family business. I am the first in my family to go to college, conscious of the sacrifices of those who made that possible.”

McDermott, 42, attended the UI and earned a law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

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He interned for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and spoke at a 2016 caucus for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush and in 2008 for Republican Sen. John McCain and served as the McCain campaign’s Iowa legal counsel.

He later served as the lead counsel successfully representing the state in the contentious legal fight over the Iowa Legislature’s 2017 measure limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

“I have worked hard to promote and improve access to justice in Iowa to ensure our justice system delivers outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, regardless of wealth or status,” he wrote in his application. “I believe I can help advance the Supreme Court’s considerable efforts and progress in this critical area — improving accessibility, ensuring fairness, and increasing efficiency — if appointed to serve on the Court.”

The governor has 30 days in which to appoint the new justice — her third appointment to the seven-member court.

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