2024 State of the Judiciary

Iowa Press | Special
Jan 10, 2024 | 49 min

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen delivers the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature.


Funding for this program was provided by Friends, the Iowa PBS Foundation.


As elected officials gather in Iowa's capital city of Des Moines, Susan Christensen, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court speaks to a joint session of the Iowa legislature. This is the 2024 State of the Judiciary Address.



Rep. Amy Sinclair: The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

Madame President, the Executive Council have arrived in the House Chamber.

Rep. Amy Sinclair: Please escort the Executive Council to their seats.



Rep. Amy Sinclair: The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

Madame President, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge and the Judges of the Court of Appeals and the Chief District Court Judges have arrived in the House Chamber.

Rep. Amy Sinclair: Please escort the Justices of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge, Judges of the Court of Appeals and the Chief District Court Judges to their seats.



Rep. Amy Sinclair: The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

Madame President, the family of the Chief Justice have arrived in the House Chamber.

Rep. Amy Sinclair: Please escort the Chief Justice's family to their seats.



Rep. Amy Sinclair: The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.


Madam President, Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg has arrived in the House Chamber.

Rep. Amy Sinclair: Please escort Lieutenant Governor Gregg to his seat.



Rep. Amy Sinclair: The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

Madame President, your committee to escort Governor Kim Reynolds has arrived.

Rep. Amy Sinclair: The committee will escort the Honorable Kim Reynolds to the rostrum.



Rep. Amy Sinclair: The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

Madame President, your committee to notify and escort Chief Justice Christensen has arrived.

Rep. Amy Sinclair: The committee will escort the Honorable Susan Christensen, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court to the rostrum



Rep. Amy Sinclair: It is my pleasure to introduce to you the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Susan Christensen, to deliver the State of Judiciary message.


Chief Justice Christensen: Thank you. Please be seated. And thank you for turning on the microphone. I can yell, but probably not that loud.

Chief Justice Christensen: Madame President, Speaker of the House, Members of the General Assembly, Governor Reynolds, always seated behind me, it's so rude. I apologize, but I go where I'm told. Lieutenant Governor Gregg, there he is. State officials, colleagues, family, friends and, of course, all Iowans.

Thank you for this opportunity to address this joint convention of the 90th General Assembly on the condition of the judiciary. As introduced, I am Suzy Christensen, and I am honored to stand before you today as your chief justice. I continue to live in Harlan with my husband, Jay, of 42 years. He is here today along with my five kids, Nick, Adam, Reese, Sadie and Cass. Also, their spouses are here, the ones that are actually married. Erin, Cara and Derek. And, if anybody has ever heard me before, Grammy with an open mic is going to say her grandchildren's names. But I learned from year one, write 'em down. Somebody got left out. Logan, Emily, Carson, Jack, Conner, Levi, Grayson, Hunter and a ninth one due in March. My brothers, Jeff and Dave, are here with me today, as well as my mom, sitting in the front row like moms always do. My dad is with me in spirit today. I am once again wearing his robe on this special day.

Thank you to members of the Iowa Court of Appeals as well as the chief judges from our eight judicial districts across the state who are in attendance today.

I am often asked, what are you going to talk about? What's your theme going to be? This year, for the first time ever, a couple of days ago I was told what my theme should be. The people who suggested it will remain nameless, four of the women on the Court of Appeals. But anyway --


They want me to give a top ten list of why I love the Court of Appeals.


I'll work on that. We'll have a special day down in the court and I will tell you why.

As I said before, I am only one of seven justices on the Iowa Supreme Court. I would like to introduce the other six members of our court. If you would please stand as I give your names.

Justices Tom Waterman --

Ed Mansfield --

Christopher McDonald --

Dana Oxley --

Matt McDermott --

and Dave May.


I want to thank each of my fellow justices for entrusting me with the extraordinary responsibility of serving as chief justice. It is truly an honor to serve with these distinguished jurists who are not only my colleagues but they're my friends. As justices, we spend a lot of time together, we review trial records, appellate briefs, we participate in oral arguments, we conference all cases that are before us, and we are also responsible for setting policy for the judicial branch.

But we also make time, we make sure we have time to break bread together and learn a bit more about each other and just figure out, what do you do in your non-judge life? And for the first time since I’ve been standing up here, I am not the only justice who has grandchildren to brag about. Within the past few months, Justices Waterman and McDonald each welcomed a new grandson into the world. I may not be their Grammy, but I am going to give them a shoutout. Welcome to the world, Rameses and Cassidy. I can't wait until you figure out a way to get them to reside in Iowa.

It’s been said that the reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. You’re gonna love it.

Today’s speech is my fourth condition of the judiciary. Each year I choose a theme. My first theme was hope. At that time, we were barely one year into the pandemic, and I wanted the people of Iowa to know that the judiciary did not succumb to COVID-19 and that we remained open for business to ensure continued access to justice.

My second theme was peace. Because we were still in the midst of a pandemic, I wanted the people of Iowa to know that the judicial branch was blocking out all the chaos and staying laser focused on the commitment to provide Iowans with meaningful access to justice.

Last year, my theme was listening. With Director Kelly Garcia of the Department of Health and Human Services, I toured the state, visiting eleven communities to learn how the department and the judicial branch could work together to improve the lives of Iowa’s most vulnerable children and their families.

As you may recall from last year’s speech, we created a Juvenile Justice Task Force with some very noble goals -- improve outcomes for youth and families, increase public safety, decrease recidivism, be fiscally responsible and reduce disproportionality & overrepresentation of youth of color in our system.

In early 2023, that task force, which was composed of all the relevant stakeholders including several legislators, came up with 55 recommendations. I am really excited about one in particular that we have already begun to implement and it is the diversion program. The intent of diversion is to provide low level juvenile offenders with opportunities to address their negative behaviors and become productive members of society, without the barriers that sometimes our juvenile justice system may unintentionally create.

Since implementation of that statewide diversion policy on June 5th of last year, Juvenile Court Services has already diverted nearly 2,500 youth from formal processing. We are confident that diversion will help us meet many of the goals as set out by the task force. I could spend an entire speech talking about the outcome of the task force, but instead I would like to refer you to our annual report that was just released today for an in-depth discussion of the task force and its recommendations as well as many other great things going on in the judicial branch.

Fast forward another year. My colleagues and I continue to listen and learn better ways to administer justice more efficiently for the sake of all Iowans. One thing we know for sure, judges, court staff and lawyers cannot do it alone. We need your help. At this very moment, I am looking at 150 people -- 151, that lady behind me is a big one -- 151 people who, hands down, have the most direct line of communication to Iowans. I have no doubt that you, Iowans elected by Iowans, have a mighty interest in upholding the public’s trust and confidence in the judicial branch. When new laws are enacted by you, or when one neighbor sues another neighbor, or when an officer charges someone with a violent crime, it is your judicial branch who applies those laws, who determines the outcomes of those legal disagreements, and who sends convicted criminals to prison to ensure community safety.

I am no Pollyanna. I respect that you may not agree with every opinion issued by the Iowa Supreme Court or issued by a trial court judge or magistrate. Heck, I don’t agree with every opinion coming down by the Iowa Supreme Court. And when I was practicing law, I remember a few cases when the trial court or appellate court got it dead wrong, in my opinion. But from the bottom of my heart, I believe that every judge in this state is trying his or her best to apply the law to the facts of a case and make a thoughtful decision.

So, exactly how am I asking for your help today? If your constituents come up to you and say hey, judge so and so really messed up this opinion, or if you maybe you tell your constituent the same thing, that is your right to hold such a belief. I may even agree with you. But what I’m asking you to do is to take that opportunity to explain that, even when you believe a judge is dead wrong, they are public servants, just like you, and they are committed to the rule of law, just as you would want them to be.

That leads me to my theme for this year, building connections. Connections are so important in state government. All three branches work for a common constituency, each and every Iowan. And all three branches are held together by the same framework, our great constitution.

Government has often been compared to a three-legged stool with one leg for executive, one leg for legislative and one leg for judicial. We owe it to the people of Iowa to work together and ensure that the three-legged stool remains rock solid. Another form of support that I am asking for today will come as no surprise, financial. We rely on you, our legislature, to provide us with adequate funding and this year we are asking for a 4.3% increase in funding. What makes up that 4.3%? In the judicial branch, salaries and benefits account for 95% of our budget. That isn’t just a piece of the pie, that is pert near the whole pie. Just like every other employer, public or private, we need to competitively pay our employees and judges. These people have an incredibly important job, making sure all Iowans have meaningful access to justice.

I would like to talk a little bit about judicial pay. Salaries for judges are set by statute. In the last 15 years, judges have received a pay raise five times. That means they have been told no pay increase 10 out of 15 years. When we take inflation into consideration, the purchasing power of a judges’ pay has actually decreased 17.2% in the past 12 years. Our judges feel the impact of their salaries not even keeping pace with the cost of living. It is discouraging to know that they are paid less than judges in every state that touches Iowa. For example, Iowa judges make $16,000 less per year than South Dakota judges, and they make $38,000 less per year than Nebraska judges. It’s no wonder the average number of applicants per district court judge vacancy has decreased 62% in the past 20 years. In 2003 about 17 people would apply for an open vacancy. In 2023 that's down to an average of 6.5. This dramatic decrease in applicants is deeply distressing. Being appointed by our Governor should be the pinnacle of an attorney’s career, not a deep financial sacrifice. While judicial pay may be unpredictable and considered a barrier when soliciting qualified attorneys to apply for judgeships, we have always been able to minimize that bit of a stick by waving a carrot, a predictable pension plan. For those of you who have listened to my prior speeches, I have never broached the topic of either pay or pension for our judges. I talk about these things one-on-one during our session meetings, but I have never used the state of the judiciary as a soapbox to relay that message. This year is different.

I feel compelled to publicly speak from this platform, in front of the General Assembly, as the voice of all judges in our state. Throughout the past year or so, the judicial pension has faced a real problem. Let me back up a bit for those of you who may not know about our judicial pension. Iowa judges do not participate in IPERS. IPERS is the retirement plan offered to most public employees in Iowa. Instead, we are members of the Judicial Retirement System. The Iowa Constitution guarantees adequate retirement compensation, and it is further specified in Iowa code section 602.9104. Until recently, judges paid a fixed contribution rate into their retirement system. For those of you who have IPERS, which also has its own fixed rate, this may sound familiar. Anyway, that same code section includes a trigger for the judicial branch, once the system reaches fully funded status, the contribution rates for judges changes from fixed to variable. That happened for the first time in the start of fiscal year 2022 when the judicial pension became fully funded, it rang the bell. But if that balance dips below the fully funded status again, which it has already done since it rang the bell, the statute makes no provision for reverting back to a fixed contribution rate. As a result, beginning in fiscal year 2023 and each year thereafter, the rates judges pay into their pensions is no longer consistent and now fluctuates every year.

What does that look like so far? Judges are paying more of their salaries into the pension. When you combine stagnate salaries with an increasing pension, we end up with every single judge in the state of Iowa experiencing a net pay decrease. For current judges, that’s a hard pill to swallow. For those we are trying to persuade to join the judicial ranks, the unpredictability of the pension makes it less useful as a carrot. We are asking you to fix this problem so that we can recruit and retain talented judges. The Judicial Branch has filed a bill to return the Judicial Retirement System to a fixed contribution rate like originally set by our legislature. We believe it is in the best interests of the judges, and the state, to have certainty in budget predictions. And this can be accomplished with a fixed contribution rate, like it used to be, and what IPERS still has.

Enough about money. I’d like to talk to you about other ways the judicial branch would like to build connections. As I stated a few minutes ago, all three branches work for a common constituency, each and every Iowan. As constitutional partners, it makes sense that we work together to help the public understand our respective roles and duties. Every September, in celebration of Constitution Day, the University of Pennsylvania releases its results of a civics knowledge survey. In 2023, it reported that only 66% of adults in the United States could rattle off the three branches of government -- executive, legislative and judicial. A staggering 17% of those surveyed could not name one branch of government. That is beyond disappointing. Just last month, I was honored to attend the funeral of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice O’Connor was eulogized by some pretty famous people. But the most moving tribute, in my opinion, was by her son, Jay. While his mother may be best known for making history by being the first woman on the United States Supreme Court in 1981, Jay wants us to remember his mother for her rich legacy of public service and that it cannot be understated. For example, in 2009, after Justice O’Connor retired, she founded the iCivics program aimed at teaching democracy to the next generation. In her own words, “The practice of democracy is not passed down through the gene pool. It must be taught and learned by each new generation.”

The judicial branch is supportive of our schools incorporating programs such as Justice O’Connor’s iCivics, which I understand is already being used by many schools in our state. Something else we are doing to help the public understand our respective roles and duties actually goes back to 2011, when we started something called Court on the Road. The name is perfect. We hit the road and we hold court in various Iowa communities in an effort to interact with adults, students and local legislators about real cases on our docket. This has allowed us to provide the public with a better understanding of what the judicial branch does beyond the headlines of high-profile cases. Since its inception, we’ve held court in 35 communities and visited 228 schools. I am confident that the experience has been a smashing success. If you think your community would like to have the Iowa Supreme Court come to town, please let me know.

I have a new idea to share with you for building connections, something called Trial Court Show & Tell. On behalf of the judicial branch, I am extending a personal invitation to you, our legislators, to visit your local courthouse when court is in session so you can observe a typical day in the life of a trial court judge. To kick off this new idea, the judicial branch intends to invite legislators to participate in staggered times throughout the year, starting with leadership and members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. I can’t wait to see this unfold. No doubt you will walk away from Trial Court Show & Tell with a better understanding of what we do, and a deep respect for the folks who help us keep the wheels of justice turning.

I have spent quite a bit of time talking about how we, as leaders of Iowa’s three branches of government, can work together to keep the three-legged stool rock solid. Iowans will also benefit when we build and nurture connections with other partnerships, individuals and entities we fondly refer to as our bar family. The Iowa County Attorneys Association, the Iowa Defense Counsel Association and the State Public Defender are all part of that family among other groups. I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss with you another very important topic from last year, and that is indigent defense.

According to the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, section 10 of our state constitution, criminal defendants have a right to counsel. This is constitutionally crystal clear. In that speech, I started my remarks with a bold statement, the contract attorney shortage is threatening to bring criminal proceedings to a screeching halt. Unfortunately, that is still true. Talk to your county attorney. Talk to a judge. Talk to a local criminal defense attorney. And you will undoubtedly get an earful. A whopping 95% of Iowa’s nearly 10,000 licensed lawyers are not signed up to accept court appointments to represent juveniles and criminal defendants. What can be done to get more licensed attorneys to sign up? The judicial branch is working with the State Public Defender, Jeff Wright, and the Iowa State Bar Association to figure out solutions. But we need your help. Over and over again, from across the state, I continue to hear from judges and lawyers that Iowa needs to substantially increase the pay for attorneys doing indigent defense work. Like the judge pay issue, every state that touches Iowa pays more for this work. We are seeing this most acutely in eastern Iowa where attorneys are choosing to work in Illinois over Iowa because Illinois recently revised its hourly rate to be approximately twice as much as Iowa. We have got to do better.

My battle cry this year is the same as last year. The state must fulfill its constitutional duty to provide criminal defendants with the right to counsel. To increase the number of licensed attorneys who will sign up, the judicial branch continues to support your efforts to increase funding for indigent defense and thank you for what you have done thus far. But justice is in jeopardy by the lack of contract attorneys. And based on what we’re being told, the current pay structure is simply too low. While higher pay would certainly help ease the pain, it won’t entirely fix the problem.

More broadly, and like many other states, we need more attorneys Iowa, and in particular, rural Iowa. We need creative solutions to attract attorneys to practice in rural Iowa. Something we’re doing right now to address that need is increasing the implementation of something that we used a lot during the pandemic and that was remote proceedings. We cannot expect our lawyers to be in two places at once, yet that is the position we are putting them in by having more cases than attorneys available. That’s why we have revised our court rules to direct judges to conduct more remote proceedings when the circumstances are appropriate.

In addition to using remote proceedings to alleviate the problem, we are looking into how we can incentivize young attorneys to hang out a shingle in rural Iowa. Some of the ideas that seem promising are student loan forgiveness, stipends and tax breaks. Those things are very familiar in the medical profession. Doesn't it make sense to look into something similar for the legal profession to help Iowans have access to justice? Ultimately, these are policy decisions best left in your hands, but we encourage you to explore ways that we can increase the number of rural attorneys. And we stand ready to partner with you to ensure these policies are promoted and ultimately successful.

I’d like to share with you a connection recently made that resulted in a positive outcome for many Iowans. Once upon a time, many years ago, I was presiding over a jury trial in Fremont County. It is a very quaint community. And, as many of you Iowans know, in a community like that nobody uses their blinkers because everybody knows where you’re going. But that also creates problems when it comes time to picking juries. It was becoming abundantly clear to me that we were not going to be able to seat a jury of 12 who didn’t have a close relationship or conflict with one of the players. We were down to the last juror who could be considered for jury duty. If she was dismissed, I warned the local sheriff, I'm sending you out to the square and you're going to have to start snagging potential jurors. This potential juror was willing to serve, but she had a newborn child at home and needed frequent breaks and privacy for pumping. As the presiding judge, I could ensure frequent breaks, but what about a private setting for her? We quickly worked with the Fremont County officials to find an old closet that could be locked from the inside, and a handwritten sign that said “PRIVATE” was taped on the door. That woman not only served on the jury, she was the foreperson.

Recently, we called upon Iowa State Association of Counties to help implement a federal law that requires employers to provide basic accommodations, such as time and space, for breastfeeding mothers at work.

They did not hesitate to help and immediately reached out to their members. I am excited to report that Pottawattamie County was the first to notify us that it created a very nice and welcoming lactation room, which I was pleased to tour in October. It sure beats an old closet with a single bulb, and it helps jurors, court staff, attorneys and litigants participate in the legal system with dignity. I applaud the counties who either already had lactation rooms in their courthouses or who are implementing them now. On behalf of women and babies everywhere, thank you!


As chief justice, I represent 1,529 employees and 261 judges who serve in the judicial branch. These public servants are special. They get it. They understand what may be a typical day of work for them is perhaps the most difficult day for the person they see engaging in the judicial system. Iowans rely on these public servants to delicately handle divorces, child custody and support, adoptions, personal injury and wrongful death, administration of estates, criminal matters ranging from seatbelt violations to murder, and cases involving children who have been neglected or abused.

Our staff and judges handle these cases with the solemnity and care that they deserve. Like I said, these are special people, and I am so very proud of them. But, like many employers, we need more employees to help us fulfill our duty to provide Iowans with access to justice. The work of a public servant is deeply rewarding, and I encourage Iowans to consider a career in Iowa’s Judicial Branch. If you’re interested, please take a look at our website where you can learn more about specific job postings, salary and benefits.

One job in the judicial branch that warrants additional comment is that of court reporting. Last year, I reported that the court reporter shortage crisis had hit an all-time high. Although we are still severely short-staffed in that area, I want to share some good news that will hopefully move the needle. Iowa’s official form of court reporting has been stenotype. With a small machine that has very few keys, court reporters softly take down every single word during a trial. Their notes look like gibberish. But court reporters can magically turn that gibberish into beautiful transcripts. The Supreme Court recently expanded that definition of official court reporting to include not only stenotype but stenomask reporting, also called voice writers. They are professionals who use a handheld mask, which has a microphone inside and they repeat what is said in a court proceeding, verbatim. That audio is then transformed into text in more or less real time through the use of a transcription system. Surprisingly, the stenomask is soundproof and it allows the reporter to do his or her work without disturbing others. Broadening the definition of court reporting to include stenomask opens up the door to more people filling these positions in the judicial branch. Because the military has been exclusively using stenomask reporters for over 50 years, we can now recruit and hire a previously untapped pool of potential court reporters, veterans.

To make sure Iowans and soon-to-be Iowans are aware of this opportunity, we are connecting with Home Base Iowa and Workforce Development. Recently, the Governor and I met and we had a great conversation about this topic, and she offered her administration's assistance to pursue potential court reporter training opportunities for high school students. Thank you, Governor.

One time I was making small talk with a court reporter and I asked her, “What made you decide to be a court reporter?” I have never forgotten her answer, and I believe it illustrates the importance of making connections. When Dixie was only 15 years old, she was returning home from a family vacation when her dad parked their popup camper at a campground for the night. Everyone but Dixie headed to the bathhouse. When Dixie’s mom came back, she asked Dixie, “Where’s Grandma?” Dixie said, well she should be at the bathhouse. The family began looking for grandma in a dark, unfamiliar campground. Sadly, they found Dixie’s grandma floating in the campground swimming pool. There were no lights or fencing around the pool.

Now, in a room full of lawyers and a bunch of judges, it will come as no surprise that a lawsuit was filed in Georgia. Dixie was an important witness for the trial because she was the last person to see her grandmother alive. She does not remember hardly anything about the trial, but she does remember the court reporter was kind. The court reporter showed her how her machine works and she explained to her why it’s important to have a record of what people are saying in court. A seed was planted and a connection was made. Dixie reflects upon that interaction with a court reporter as the catalyst for her becoming an official reporter. She reported for 41 years, with the last 27 as an official reporter with the Iowa Judicial Branch. Dixie was going to try and come, but because of weather I'm not sure she's here. Dixie, are you here? She would say something. She's probably watching. I would like to thank Dixie for letting me tell her story. And I also want everyone to know that we specifically invited the Court Reporters Association and any court reporter in our state to attend. And I know there are some sitting up there. Would the court reporters in this room please stand?


Thank you, court reporters, from wherever you may come. I know they're from across the state.

I want to do more to connect with you, our elected leaders. It’s a lot easier to talk about our budget and what is on the judicial branch’s wish list when I know the person sitting across the table. That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to remind you of my office hours at the Capitol during session. Starting January 22nd and going through March 11th, I’ll be in the Old Supreme Court chambers from 10 to noon. On those Mondays, I’ll stick around and have lunch on the ground floor. Please stop in. I’d love to get to know you better and hear what’s on your mind. If you can’t make one of those Mondays work, please reach out and we'll find another time. And if something pops up on my end, if I can’t make it work, I have six other justices who I know would be more than happy to scoot across the street and take my spot.

As I’m preparing for this speech every year, like I said, I am often asked, what is your theme going to be? I am also always asked, “How’s Shawn doing?” I have no doubt that Shawn’s journey from methamphetamine addiction to recovery continues to provide encouragement to others who may be struggling with any kind of addiction. When I checked in with Shawn, I asked him my standard question, which I always asked him at STEPS Family Treatment Court, “Shawn, how many days of sobriety?” He still keeps track, every single day. And his answer is stunning. It’s 2,123, which is 5 years and 8 months. And to celebrate those five years, he went skydiving and sent me a picture to prove it.

Rylan joined his dad on the phone with me the other night. He is turning into a fine young man, I see him. And he is going to celebrate his 12th birthday in three days.

Of all the things Shawn shared with me about this past year, I was most overjoyed that he and his friend, Jason, are now the proud co-founders of a new AA in their hometown of Anita. Meetings are held every Thursday night from 6:45 to 7:45 in the Congregational Church basement. And the name of their group is pretty darn catchy, “I Need a Meeting.” Say it fast. “I Need a Meeting.” “I Need a Meeting.” Sounds just like “Anita.” Clever, clever. Very good marketing, Shawn.

As always, thank you Shawn, for allowing me to keep Iowans updated on your story of Iowa’s judicial branch and how we provided a path for your enduring sobriety. You continue to be an inspiration to many, and always to me. Thank you, Shawn.


This chamber holds a lot of tradition, tradition I must relearn every January when we are invited to be guests in your home for the condition of the judiciary. Many of you may not have noticed something out of the ordinary during my speech, something from the judiciary. I asked Jodi, my court reporter, to be at my right side like she was for nearly 12 years. I cannot think of a better way to memorialize my commitment to building connections than to make an official record with one of Iowa’s finest certified shorthand reporters. Thank you, Jodi.


She's been writing down every word, even the ones when I went off script about the Court of Appeals.


In closing, I would like to invite everyone to join us shortly downstairs in the historic courtroom for coffee and cookies. I also want to thank the many silent heroes who stand ready to protect us at today’s public event. They risk their own safety in order to protect and serve our communities. I know that I speak for everyone in this room, thank you for serving, for doing a job that puts others first, and for preserving law and order. I’d like to also acknowledge Captain Mark Miller. He is seated down here also to my right. He agreed to be here today at what may be his last official duty before retirement and provide security for an old friend. Mark and I built a connection over 30 years ago when he started trooping and I was an assistant county attorney. I also want to thank my colleagues for their commitment to our work and to the legislature for its support of our work and for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today.

As chief of the Iowa Supreme Court, I promise to work hard towards building meaningful connections. By the way, remember last year when I took a picture? I said, I promise I'd have it framed. There you are. Phones aren't the greatest camera. It's kind of fuzzy. But there you go.

I promise to work hard to build those meaningful connections. And, like I said, we owe it to the people of Iowa to work together to ensure that the three-legged stool remains rock solid.

Thank you.


Rep. Amy Sinclair: Will the committee to escort the Chief Justice please come forward and escort Chief Justice Christensen to the House Chamber?




Funding for this program is provided by Friends, the Iowa PBS Foundation.