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Drake Law School Program to Examine Judicial Independence

CONTACT: Timothy Eckley, American Judicature Society, 515-271-2288, teckley@ajs.org; Katie Knorovsky, 515-271-1834, katie.knorovsky@drake.edu

Drake University Law School and the American Judicature Society are partnering Friday, April 20, to present “Maintaining Iowa’s Fair and Impartial Judiciary” as part of the 2007 Justice System Series. The program, which is free and open to the public, will run from 9:30 to 11:50 a.m. in the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center, 24th Street and University Avenue.

Panelists will explore topics of judicial independence in Iowa and will cover issues relating to the merit selection process in Iowa, judicial retention voting, citizen responsibility and the importance of an independent judiciary and its relationship to an independent bar.

Seth Andersen, executive vice president of the American Judicature Society, will moderate the event. The panelists, who will speak for approximately 20 minutes each, follow:

• Celeste F. Bremer, U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Iowa. Her talk, titled “Judicial Selection in Iowa: How and Why Merit Selection Works in Iowa,” will explain how nominating commissions are selected and function for district and appellate judicial selection. She also will discuss ethical issues for commissioners.

• Charles D. Hurley, president of Iowa Family Policy Center. His talk, titled “Citizen Responsibilities, the Right to Know and Judicial Questionnaires,” will examine how and why judicial retention voting should be more intelligently executed in light of the case of Republican Party of Minnesota v. White.

• Jeffrey A. Neary, Iowa district court judge for the Third Judicial District. His talk, titled “Judges Under Attack: The Politicizing of Judicial Retention Elections in Iowa — a Personal Perspective,” will highlight his own experiences facing the 2004 retention election, in which local and national groups campaigned against his retention.

• Nick Critelli, former president of the Iowa State Bar Association and Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers. His talk, titled “Juxtaposition: An Independent Judiciary and an Independent Bar,” will explore whether the same freedom of expression should exist between the Bench and the Bar, or whether the Bar should be subservient to the Bench.

An open panel discussion will follow the presentations. Approval has been granted for two hours of Iowa CLE credit. For more information, call 515-271-2288.