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Law alumna selected as first black female judge in Iowa

Romonda Belcher, LW’95, recently was selected as Iowa’s first female African-American judge.

Belcher, an assistant Polk County attorney, was voted into the position by Polk County’s district judges. She was chosen to succeed retired Polk County District Associate Judge Joe Smith.

Belcher said the appointment fulfilled one of her childhood dreams.

“I am quite elated,” she said. “I feel humbled and honored to fulfill this position.”

She added that she hopes to use her position to make a difference in the lives of others and wants everyone who walks out of her courtroom to feel that they were “treated with respect and they were heard.” She said her new role also presents an opportunity to serve as a role model.

Before her appointment, Belcher most recently represented Polk County and the Department of Human Services in guardianships and conservatorships. She also handled civil commitments and defended small claims actions and civil rights complaints. She served as counsel to Polk County General Services and Polk County Recorder. She has been an attorney for Polk County for 15 years and spent most of her practice in the Criminal Division.

Belcher said the amount of practical training she gained as a Drake Law School student helped prepare her for a successful legal career. She cited several experiences she had as a student that were instrumental to her professional development, including her work with the Drake Legal Clinic, a clerkship with Iowa Supreme Court Justice Louis Lavorato, a Drake Law School graduate; and internships with the Polk County attorney’s office and the Parrish Kruidenier law firm.

“Drake Law School is a phenomenal law school,” she said. “I received the training I needed, and it was easy to transition to the practice of law.”