UPDATES & ANALYSIS

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Christopher McDonald elevated to the Iowa Supreme Court by Governor Reynolds

by Rox Laird | February 21, 2019

The Iowa Supreme Court will have a full complement of seven justices when Christopher McDonald is sworn in. McDonald, 44, was appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds this week, replacing Justice Daryl Hecht, who retired last year as he battles melanoma.

Reynolds’ second appointee, after naming Susan Christensen last August, brings to the Court the perspective of a Vietnamese-American, a practicing lawyer, and a trial and appellate judge.

McDonald has served on the Iowa Court of Appeals since 2013. He is a graduate of Grand View University and the University of Iowa Law School. He clerked for Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Hansen, and practiced law at the Des Moines law firms of Faegre Baker Daniels and Belin McCormick. He was senior counsel for litigation at Aviva before being appointed to the Fifth Judicial District Court by former Gov. Terry Branstad.

With this appointment, the Iowa Supreme Court has its first member of a minority group: McDonald is the son of a Vietnamese mother and Scotch-Irish Father. At a news conference at the State Capitol Wednesday, McDonald said he will embrace his heritage on the Court:

“I know that as the first minority, or person of color, appointed to the Supreme Court, people will have special expectations for me in terms of leadership and mentorship,” he said. “And, I understand that, I appreciate that. I embrace those expectations, and I will certainly do my best to meet and exceed them.”

It remains to be seen how many cases McDonald will participate in this term. The Court just completed the February oral arguments, and it has only three more days of oral arguments scheduled for March and April before the 2018-19 term ends in June. The Court has eight more days of opinion and/or further-review conferences scheduled for the remainder of this term.

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