On February 20, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) selected Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Christopher McDonald to replace retired Justice Daryl Hecht on the Iowa Supreme Court. McDonald is Reynolds’ second nominee to the seven-member court. He will serve on the supreme court for one year and must then must compete in a yes-no retention election in 2020 to remain on the bench.
Four of the court’s current members were appointed by Republican governors. The other two members were appointed by Democratic governors. Retired Justice Hecht was appointed to the supreme court by former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D).
McDonald’s appointment leaves the Iowa Court of Appeals with two vacant seats. Under Iowa law, the governor appoints supreme court and court of appeals justices with help from a nominating commission. The commission submits three nominees to the governor, who appoints one nominee to the court. The commission is composed of 17 members. It is chaired by a senior justice on the supreme court other than the chief justice, eight lawyers elected by licensed Iowa lawyers, and eight non-lawyers appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa State Senate.
McDonald joined the state court of appeals in 2013 after being appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad (R). McDonald was a judge for Iowa District Five from 2012 to 2013. He previously worked in private practice. McDonald received his undergraduate degree from Grand View University in 1997 and his J.D. from the University of Iowa in 2001.