DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Supreme Court reselected Justice Susan Christensen of Harlan as chief justice. Christensen’s previous term on the court expired December 31, 2022. Her new term begins January 1, 2023. A chief justice serves for two years.
Christensen was first selected in 2020. She succeeded Chief Justice Mark Cady who passed away suddenly in 2019. Justice David Wiggins served as acting chief justice in the interim. She is the second woman to serve as chief justice of Iowa’s highest court.
Christensen has served as a judge for 16 years, including five years on the Iowa Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court by Governor Kim Reynolds.
“I am honored to be selected by my colleagues to continue to serve as Chief Justice of Iowa’s court system,” Christensen said. “In the beginning of my first term, the Governor’s Office and the Iowa Department of Public Health urged Iowans to prepare for COVID-19. Since then, I have seen the resilience and dedication of our judges and court staff. My pride in the judicial branch grows every day and I am grateful for the confidence my colleagues have placed in me and for the devoted work of all judicial branch employees across the state.”
In addition to judicial duties and writing opinions, the chief justice presides over oral arguments and court conferences, sets the court’s oral argument schedule, and delivers the state of the judiciary address to the legislature each January. As administrative head of the Iowa Judicial Branch, the chief justice presides over the judicial council and works with the state court administrator to manage judicial branch operations with a FY 2023 appropriation of $190 million, 357 judicial officers, and more than 1,700 employees in all 99 counties. The chief justice also appoints members to supreme court committees and task forces to propose policies and rules of procedure and practice.
Before becoming a judge, Christensen practiced law in Harlan for 16 years. She currently chairs the Children’s Justice State Council. She previously chaired the Family First Task Force and served on the Supreme Court’s Family Law Pro Se Forms Committee, Child Support Guidelines Review Committee, and Parents Representation Standards Committee. She is a member of The Iowa State Bar Association, the Southwest Iowa Bar Association, and the Shelby County Bar Association.
Chief Justice Christensen was born and raised in Harlan, Iowa. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Judson College in 1988 and her law degree from Creighton University School of Law in 1991. She is married with five children and eight grandchildren.