DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad on Thursday appointed Christopher L. McDonald to the Iowa Court of Appeals, filling a vacancy that will be created by Friday’s retirement of the appellate panel’s Chief Judge Larry J. Eisenhauer.
McDonald, 38, of Des Moines, currently serves as a district court judge in Iowa Judicial District 5C. The University of Iowa law school graduate previously served as senior counsel to Aviva USA and was in private practice.
The other candidates for the position selected by the State Judicial Nominating Commission were Jeanie Kunkle Vaudt, 59, an Iowa assistant attorney general from West Des Moines, and Marshalltown private attorney Sharon Greer, 57.
In naming McDonald to the post, Branstad thanked the commission, complimenting them on three excellent nominees for the position.
“The three individuals sent to me for consideration by the Judicial Nominating Commission were outstanding, and all could serve as great judges, making this a very difficult decision,” the governor said in a statement. “Christopher McDonald has a keen legal mind, extraordinary work ethic and has been an innovative problem solver.”
In announcing his appointment, Branstad noted the priority McDonald has given to cases impacting children, resolving them in a matter of days instead of weeks or months as had been the case previously. He also said McDonald’s collaboration skills are well-suited for the Court of Appeals.
“Not only is Christopher McDonald a legal scholar and innovator, he has shown leadership outside the courtroom and within his community,” said Branstad.
McDonald begins his tenure on the Iowa Court of Appeals in October.
The commission’s selection interviews drew public attention when a Vaudt, a finalist for the Iowa Court of Appeals, was asked publicly by a nominating panelist if she made covenant vows with her husband. A separate applicant was asked about her church involvement during the interview process, raising concerns about the appropriateness of the questioning and whether it posed a violation of the commission’s own guidelines.
In all, 22 candidates were interviewed by the nominating commission in August.
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