The Iowa court judges up for retention this year are listed below. The Iowa State Bar Association has compiled these biographies on the website, www.judicialfacts.org.
In addition, hundreds of members of the legal profession were surveyed regarding each Iowa Judge up for retention. A final retention percentage was calculated, and we have that percentage next to each judge's name.
Supreme Court Justices
Chief Justice Mark S. Cady (Retention percentage 91)
Chief Justice Cady, Ft. Dodge, was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1998. The members of the court selected him as chief justice in 2010.
Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, Chief Justice Cady earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Drake University. After graduating from law school in 1978, he served as a judicial law clerk for the Second Judicial District for one year. He was then appointed as an assistant Webster County attorney and practiced with a law firm in Fort Dodge. Chief Justice Cady was appointed a district associate judge in 1983 and a district court judge in 1986. In 1994, he was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals. He was elected chief judge of the court of appeals in 1997 and served until his appointment to the supreme court.
Chief Justice Cady is a member of the Order of the Coif (honorary), The Iowa State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Iowa Judges Association, and Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers (honorary).
He also served as chair of the Supreme Court’s Task Force on the Court’s and Communities’ Response to Domestic Abuse and is a member of the Drake Law School Board of Counselors. In 2013, Chief Justice Cady was elected to the Conference of Chief Justices Board of Directors. He is the coauthor of Preserving the Delicate Balance Between Judicial Accountability and Independence: Merit Selection in the PostWhite World, 16 Cornell J.L. and Pub. Pol’y 101 (2008) and of Iowa Practice: Lawyer and Judicial Ethics (Thomson-West 2007). He is the author of Curbing Litigation Abuse and Misuse: A Judicial Approach, 36 Drake L. Rev. 481 (1987). Justice Cady also delivered remarks at the 2012 Drake Law School Constitutional Law Symposium, The Iowa Judiciary, Funding, and the Poor, 60 Drake L. Rev. 1127 (2012) and presented the inaugural Drake Law School Iowa Constitution Lecture, A Pioneer’s Constitution: How Iowa’s Constitutional History Uniquely Shapes Our Pioneering Tradition in Recognizing Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, 60 Drake L. Rev. 1133 (2012). He served on the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices and chairs its Committee on Courts, Children, and Families, and the Committee on Judicial Selection and Compensation.
Chief Justice Cady was an adjunct faculty member at Buena Vista University for more than 30 years and served on its President’s Advisory Council. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate degree in Public Service from Buena Vista University. Chief Justice Cady received the Award of Merit from the Iowa Judges Association in 2015. He received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Drake University Law School in 2011 and received the Alumni Achievement Award from Drake University in 2012. Chief Justice Cady is also the Iowa chair of iCivics Inc.
Justice Daryl L. Hecht (Retention Percentage 88)
Justice Hecht, Sioux City, was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006.
Raised near Lytton, Iowa, Justice Hecht received his bachelor’s degree from Morningside College in 1974 and his J.D. degree from the University of South Dakota in 1977. He received his L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 2004. Justice Hecht practiced law in Sioux City for twenty-two years before his appointment to the court of appeals in 1999.
Justice Hecht is a past president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, the Morningside College Alumni Judicial Biographies - Appellate Courts 7 Association, the Woodbury County Judicial Magistrate Nominating Commission, and the Woodbury County Compensation Commission. Justice Hecht served as chairperson for the Iowa Supreme Court Task Force for Civil Justice Reform. The task force’s final report was presented to the Iowa Supreme Court on January 30, 2012. Justice Hecht is also involved in the study of civil justice reform at the national level. He is a member of the Civil Justice Improvement Committee appointed by the Conference of Chief Justices. The committee submitted its report and recommendations to the Conference of Chief Justices in 2016.
Justice Brent R. Appel (Retention Percentage 82)
Justice Appel, Ackworth, was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006.
A Dubuque native, Justice Appel received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stanford University in California in 1973 and his J.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1977. Following graduation from law school, Justice Appel served as a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 1979, Justice Appel was appointed Iowa First Assistant Attorney General, and in 1983 became Iowa Deputy Attorney General. While serving in the Iowa Attorney General’s office, Justice Appel argued and briefed four cases before the United States Supreme Court, including the second “Christian burial” case, Nix V. Williams. In 1987 until 2006, Justice Appel was engaged in private practice in central Iowa.
Justice Appel has served as chair of the Iowa State Children’s Justice Council since 2010. Between 2010 and 2016, Justice Appel was appointed by United States Chief Justice John Roberts to serve as a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence. Since 2015, he has served as chair of the workgroup restyling the Iowa Rules of Evidence. In the summer of 2016, Justice Appel was named by the Iowa Supreme Court to chair the newly formed Access to Justice Commission.
Iowa Court of Appeals
Chief Judge David Danilson (Retention Percentage 94)
Chief Judge Danilson, Pleasant Hill, was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2009.
The members of the court selected him as chief judge in 2010.
Born in Perry, and raised on a farm north of Woodward, Chief Judge Danilson earned his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 1976. He graduated from Creighton University School of Law in 1979. Chief Judge Danilson was in private practice in Boone from 1980 to 1987 and during this time served as judicial hospital referee and judicial magistrate. He was appointed to the district associate bench in the Second Judicial District in 1987. Judge Danilson was appointed to the district court bench in 1997 and served two years as the assistant chief district judge of the Second Judicial District until his appointment to the court of appeals. Judge Danilson is a member of The Iowa State Bar Association and the Iowa Judges Association.
Judge Richard H. Doyle (Retention Percentage 94)
Judge Doyle, Des Moines, was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2008.
Born in Elgin, Ill., and raised in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, Judge Doyle received his bachelor’s degree from Drake University in 1971. He then served in the United States Army for two years before attending Drake University Law School. He was a staff member of the Drake Law Review while in law school. After graduating in 1976, he served for a year as an assistant attorney general in the Criminal Appeals Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office. He was in private practice in Des Moines from 1977 until his appointment to the Court of Appeals.
Judge Doyle is a member of the Polk County and Iowa State Bar Associations, the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers, the Iowa Judges Association, and Lincoln Inne of Court. He co-authored “History of the Iowa Court of Appeals,” 60 Drake L. Rev. 1 (2011).
Judge Amanda Potterfield (Retention Percentage 92)
Judge Potterfield, Tiffin, was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2008.
Born in Jacksonville, Fla., and raised in Daytona Beach, Fla., Judge Potterfield attended Hollins College in Roanoke, Va., where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1969. She received her law degree, with honors, from the National Law Center, George Washington University in 1974. Judge Potterfield worked as a criminal defense attorney for the Georgia Criminal Justice Council and, later, for Prisoners’ Legal Services in New York City. She moved to Iowa in 1982 and worked in the Linn County Public Defender’s office.
She was in private practice from 1989-2001 before being appointed to the district court bench.
Judge Gayle Nelson Vogel (Retention Percentage 91)
Judge Vogel, Spirit Lake, was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1996.
Born in Rockford, Ill., Judge Vogel graduated cum laude from Rockford College in 1971.
In 1983 she graduated from Drake University Law School, Order of the Coif. Following law school, she worked in the private practice of law in Knoxville. In 1994, she was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Business Woman of the Year Award.
Her membership in The Iowa State Bar Association since 1983 has included serving on the Grievance Commission from 1988 - 1996. As a past co-chair of the Iowa Court Improvement Project, Judge Vogel was instrumental in developing rules to expedite appeals in child dependency cases. Judge Vogel is also a member of the Iowa Judges Association. In 2015, Judge Vogel was appointed to serve on the Judicial Technology Committee.
District 5A Judges
• Judge Gregory A. Hulse (Retention Percentage 90)
Judge Hulse of Adel was appointed to the bench in 1997. He was born in Des Moines, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1969. In 1973, he graduated from Drake University School of Law and went into private practice. Judge Hulse also served in the Iowa National Guard from 1969 to 1975. He belongs to the Dallas County and Iowa State Bar Associations as well as the Iowa Judges Association.
• Judge Paul R. Huscher (Retention Percentage 93)
Judge Huscher of Waukee was appointed to the bench in 1997. Born in Norman, Okla., he went to undergraduate college at Oklahoma State University. After graduating in 1977, he went to Drake University Law School and graduated in 1980. He was in private practice for sixteen years before his appointment. Judge Huscher is a member of the Dallas County, Guthrie County, and Iowa State Bar Associations, as well as the Iowa Judges Association.
• Judge Martha L. Mertz (Retention Percentage 78)
Judge Mertz of Knoxville was appointed to the bench in February 2002. She received her undergraduate degree from Northeast Missouri State University in 1974, and she graduated with honors from Drake University Law School in 1982. Judge Mertz is a member of The Iowa State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. She has received the ICADV Gold Seal Award in 1994, the Athena Award in 1989, the Rodney L. Hudson Appellate Advocacy Award in 1982, and the Order of Barristers in 1981.