DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Supreme Court has selected Justice Susan Christensen of Harlan as its next chief justice. Christensen will succeed Chief Justice Mark Cady who passed away suddenly November 15, 2019. Justice David Wiggins has served as acting chief justice since Chief Justice Cady’s passing. Justice Christensen will be the second woman to serve as chief justice of Iowa’s highest court.
“I am honored to be selected by my colleagues as chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court,” Christensen said. “Three months ago, our court faced a sudden crisis with the unexpected death of Chief Justice Cady. I am deeply appreciative of the immediate leadership by acting Chief Justice David Wiggins. He provided the stability to push forward with the court’s work while the judicial branch and entire state grieved for the Cady family. As chief justice, I will maintain my passion for child welfare and juvenile justice and do my best to lead Iowa’s judiciary in a manner which provides all 99 counties with fair and impartial justice.”
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 2020 appropriation of $181 million, 334 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.
Christensen was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2018 by Governor Kim Reynolds. She will be up for retention in November 2020. Prior to her appointment to the supreme court, Christensen was appointed a district associate judge in 2007 and a district court judge in 2015. Before becoming a judge, she practiced law in Harlan for 16 years. Christensen currently chairs the Children’s Justice State Council as well as the Family First and Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). She previously 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.
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 five grandchildren.