40th Anniversary of the Iowa Court of Appeals
left to right, Judge Janet Johnson (ret.), Judge Bruce Snell (ret.), Judge
Robert Allbee (ret.), Judge Leo Oxberger (ret.), Judge Rosemary Sackett (ret.), Judge Michael Streit (ret.). Standing, left
to right, Judge Richard Doyle, Chief Judge David Danilson, Judge Amanda
Potterfield, Judge Christopher McDonald, Judge Van Zimmer (ret.), Judge Thomas
Bower, Judge Gayle Nelson Vogel, Senior Judge Darrell Goodhue, Senior Judge
Robert Mahan, Judge John Miller (ret.), Judge Michael Mullins, Judge Larry
Eisenhauer (ret.), Judge Anuradha Vaitheswaran, Senior Judge Richard Blane, II,
and Judge Mary Tabor.
years ago, the newly formed Iowa Court of Appeals heard oral arguments and
issued opinions for the first time. The Iowa Legislature created the
five-member court to ease the overcrowded Iowa Supreme Court docket. At the
time, it was taking about two years for the supreme court to process appeals.
September, 1976, then Iowa Governor, Robert D. Ray, appointed the first five
judges to the court: Robert G. Allbee and Leo E. Oxberger, district judges in
Des Moines; Allen (Barney) L. Donielson, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of
Iowa; James H. Carter, a district judge in Cedar Rapids; and Bruce M. Snell,
Jr., an attorney from Ida Grove. Judges Allbee, Carter, and Snell went on to
serve on the Iowa Supreme Court.
current Iowa Court of Appeals judges are: Chief Judge David Danilson, Pleasant
Hill; Judge Gayle Nelson Vogel, Spirit Lake; Judge Anuradha Vaitheswaran, Des
Moines; Judge Amanda Potterfield, Tiffin; Judge Richard H. Doyle, Des Moines; Judge
Mary Tabor, Des Moines; Judge Michael R. Mullins, Washington; Judge Thomas N.
Bower, Cedar Falls; and Judge Christopher McDonald, Des Moines.
court of appeals first heard oral arguments January 17, 1977. Then, on January
28, 1977, the court filed its first set of opinions. In 1983, the Iowa
Legislature expanded the court of appeals to six members. At that time, the
court began to hear and decide cases in three-judge panels but continued to
conference all cases as a group, or en banc. In 1999, the court was again
expanded to its current structure of nine judges meeting in panels of three.
The conferencing of all cases en banc was discontinued except in limited
court of appeals judges have moved on to the supreme court, including the
current Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice, Mark Cady, and current justices Daryl
Hecht and Edward Mansfield. Other court of appeals judges appointed to the
supreme court were Michael Streit and David Baker. In total, 29 judges have
served on the court of appeals. The longest serving judge was former Chief
Judge Rosemary Sackett who served for 28 years. A complete list of court of
appeals judges is on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: http://www.iowacourts.gov/About_the_Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Court_of_Appeals_Judges/Past_Court_of_Appeals_Judges/
legislature designed the court of appeals to review all civil and criminal
actions, postconviction remedy proceedings, and small claims actions
transferred to it by the supreme court. In its first year the court of appeals
filed 327 opinions. The number of cases transferred to the court of appeals has
steadily increased and, in 2016, the court filed 1,390 opinions, the largest
number in its forty-year history. On average each judge authored over 140
opinions. A decision of the court of appeals is final unless the supreme court
grants further review.