Iowa Supreme Court Building Photo credit: Ctjf83 via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Justice Daryl Hecht announced he would resign from the Iowa Supreme Court on December 13 to focus on his battle with cancer. 

Hecht heard oral arguments in Des Moines this adjudicative term while receiving treatment for melanoma in Sioux City and at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The court’s adjudicative term began September 4.

He was unable to sit for the November 13 and 14 oral arguments due to the side effects of the treatment he is receiving. After discussions with his family, Hecht determined it was essential for him to commit all of his energy to battle the disease. 

“I am grateful to Justice Daryl Hecht for his nearly 20 years of service to the State of Iowa as an appeals court judge and then Supreme Court justice,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said responding to the news.

“I respect and support his choice to focus on health amid this battle with cancer. I am sure the decision was not an easy one to make, and I wish him and the entire Hecht family only the best as they turn their full attention to his health,” she added.

Hecht, from Sioux City, is married with two daughters and three grandchildren.

Hecht was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006 by former Governor Tom Vilsack. 

Raised near Lytton, Iowa, he received his bachelor’s degree from Morningside College in 1974 and his J.D. degree from the University of South Dakota in 1977.  He received his L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 2004.

Hecht practiced law in Sioux City for twenty-two years before his appointment to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1999 by former Governor Terry Branstad. Hecht served in the Court of Appeals until his appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006. 

Hecht is a past president of the Iowa Association for Justice.  He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, the Morningside College Alumni Association, the Woodbury County Judicial Magistrate Nominating Commission, and the Woodbury County Compensation Commission. He served as chairperson for the Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force. Hecht was also involved in the study of civil justice reform at the national level.  He served as a member of the Civil Justice Improvement Committee appointed by the Conference of Chief Justices.

Hecht’s judicial track record has been marked with controversy. He joined the unanimous decision in 2009 that allowed same-sex marriage in the state. He was not up for retention in 2010 when three justices were voted off the bench by Iowans after the decision. Later articles of impeachment were submitted in the Iowa House for the remaining justices, including Hecht, but were not acted on. Hecht also joined a 5 to 2 majority in June striking down Iowa’s 72-hour waiting period for abortion. He also joined the majority in 2015 reversing the Iowa Board of Medicine’s webcam abortion ban.

This will give Reynolds a second opportunity to make an appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court. On August 1st, she named Sue Christensen to the Court to replace Justice Bruce Zager who retired

Reynolds will have to choose between three candidates the State Judicial Nominating Commission will nominate after they receive applications and conduct interviews. After they make their recommendations, Reynolds has 30 days to make an appointment. 

Photo credit: Ctjf83 via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

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