Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds made her second appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday morning. She selected Judge Christopher McDonald, 44, to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Justice Daryl Hecht.
McDonald, of Des Moines, received his law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and his undergraduate degree from Grand View University. He has been serving on the Iowa Court of Appeals since September 2013 after being appointed by former Governor Terry Branstad. Prior to this, he served a little over a year as a district court judge in the Fifth Judicial District after Branstad appointed him to the bench in 2012.
“Judge McDonald has a wealth of life experience which has prepared him exceptionally well to serve our state in this new role,” Reynolds said. “He is a brilliant and thoughtful jurist who will bring a diverse and fair perspective to the bench. That’s vital as Iowans deserve a judge who believes in applying the law, not making it.”
McDonald, who was born in Thailand to a Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam war, is the first person of color to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court.
He said he was humbled by the opportunity to served on the Iowa Supreme 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 and I understand that. I appreciate that. I embrace those expectations and I’ll certainly do my best to meet and exceed them,” McDonald said.
He said that while his job description will change his core commitments to his colleagues, members of the bar, and citizens of the state will not.
“I promise to you to continue to be a faithful servant to the Constitution and the laws of this great state, to fairly and impartially decide cases, and to administer justice in good faith to the best of my ability,” McDonald added.
Watch the announcement:
McDonald was one of three finalists whose names were submitted to Reynolds. Chief District Court Judge Kellyann Lekar of Waterloo and District Court Judge Dustria Relph of Corydon were also finalists. The Governor’s office said that Reynolds personally interviewed each nominee, received extensive written materials from the nominees, and heard input from dozens of Iowans around the state before making her decision.
You can read McDonald’s application to the state judicial nominating commission below:
Watch his interview with the state judicial nominating commission below: