The Iowa Judicial Branch released background information and professional qualifications of each judge up for judicial retention this year called the Voters Judicial Directory. The directory includes information on each judge’s education, career, and professional activities. The guide also includes factors that voters may want to consider when retaining a judge.
In 1962, Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment that created a retention election for judges in the state. The system created a nonpartisan merit selection process where a nonpartisan commission reviews applicants for judicial office and recommends judges to be appointed by the governor. Those judges that are appointed through the merit then must be retained during regular general elections. The judges do not run against an opponent, but instead a judge must receive a majority of “yes” votes to be retained by the voters and serve another term.
The Iowa State Bar Association also released performance evaluations by Iowa lawyers on judges that are on the ballot. The evaluations rate judges on issues such as knowledge and application of the law, temperament, communication skills, timeliness of rulings, and impartiality. The lawyer evaluations also include whether the lawyers believe each judge should be retained. The Iowa State Bar Association 2018 Judicial Performance Review can be found at https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.iowabar.org/resource/resmgr/judicial_performance_review/2018/2018_Judicial_Performance_Re.pdf.
The 2018 Iowa Voters Judicial Directory prepared by the Iowa Judicial Branch can be found at https://www.iowacourts.gov/static/media/cms/2018_judges_guide_0BC05804C2A1B.pdf.