DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed HF 2481, a bill that gives her the authority to appoint district associate judges, associate juvenile court judges, and associate probate judges.
The Iowa House passed the bill by a party-line 58 to 33 vote on March 10. The Iowa Senate passed the bill along party lines, 31 to 16, on March 29.
The new law will take effect on July 1, 2022.
Under previous law, district associate judges, full-time associate juvenile judges, and full-time associate probate judges are appointed by the district judges of the judicial election district from persons nominated by the county magistrate appointing commission.
Under the new law, the district nominating commission will nominate persons for district associate judges, full-time associate juvenile judges, and full-time associate probate judges for the governor to consider for appointment in the same manner that district court judges are nominated.
Under that system, upon a district court judge’s resignation, retirement, death, or impeachment, the district judicial nominating commission will collect applications and interview potential appointees and then select two people for the governor to consider. If the governor fails to make an appointment after 30, the state constitution says the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court will decide.
The new law also allows those nominated as district associate judges, full-time associate juvenile judges, and full-time associate probate judges to live outside of the judicial district before their appointment if they live in a county contiguous with the judicial election district before their appointment. However, they must live in the district upon taking office and continue to live in the district during their entire term.
The new law also requires those nominated to be licensed to practice law in Iowa and be able to complete their first term before the age of 72.