June 21, 2021
Your Justice Not Politics Viewer’s Guide
Block off Friday, June 25, on your calendar and stock up on your favorite caffeinated beverage (and maybe some popcorn) for a full day of live-streamed interviews with the 14 men and women vying to replace retiring Judge Richard Doyle on Iowa’s Court of Appeals.
It’s a chance to see Iowa’s widely admired merit-based judicial selection system up close and personal as members of our State Judicial Nominating Commission review the qualifications of each candidate before sending three names to the governor for a final selection. Posing the questions will be eight lawyers elected by attorney peers from throughout their Congressional District and nine members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.
- Where to watch?
The proceedings will be held in the chambers of the Iowa Supreme Court at the Judicial Branch Building and be live-streamed on the Iowa Courts YouTube channel. If you can’t devote the 25th to Commission watching, the interviews will also be archived on the Iowa Judicial Branch website.
- Who are the candidates?
The list of the 14 Iowans who applied to fill the upcoming Appeals Court vacancy is available here along with the interview schedule and links to the applications and writing samples submitted by each candidate.
- What SHOULD we see?
The goal of a nominating commission in merit-based selection is to determine which candidates are most qualified to serve on the bench. Hence, we trust the questions will focus on the professional background, qualifications, and unique career experience of each candidate. Does the candidate have the knowledge, skills, and demeanor needed to handle the profound responsibilities that come with the job?
- What SHOULDN’T we see?
Something has gone terribly wrong if we witness anything on June 25th like the fireworks we’ve seen over the years during Senate confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court. The primary intent of a nonpartisan nominating commission is to remove hyper-partisanship from the process. Questions from Commissioners or comments from the candidates on how they might rule specifically on hot-button issues should definitely not be part of the discussion. Nor should there be prying inquiries about a candidate’s political affiliation, religion, ethnic background, or family life.
- How to weigh in with the Commissioners?
Justice Not Politics has made it easy for you to comment on the qualifications of the applicants with our Appeals Court Vacancy comment form. Just click here, fill in your thoughts and hit “Take Action” – your comments will be emailed to all 17 members of the State Judicial Nominating Commission.
Sure, we sound like nerds when we say we are excited to again see merit-based selection in action. And you can bet we’ll be watching every minute of the public interviews. Because in an environment where merit-based selection is under attack here and elsewhere in the country, we intend to take full advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate how important this process is to fair courts for all Iowans.
Team Justice Not Politics,
Your Fair Courts Nerds
PS: If you really want to dive into this topic further, here is a link to The American Judicature Society (AJS) “Handbook for Judicial Nominating Commissioners,” a best-practices guide used by state commissions throughout the country.