United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa

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United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
(S.D. Iowa)
Iowa federal court districts and divisions.svg
The Northern (red) and Southern (blue) Districts of Iowa
Appeals to Eighth Circuit
Established July 20, 1882
Judges assigned 3
Chief Judge John Alfred Jarvey
Official court website

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa (in case citations, S.D. Iowa) has jurisdiction over forty-seven of Iowa's ninety-nine counties. It is subject to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

The United States District Court for the District of Iowa, established on March 3, 1845, by 5 Stat. 789,[1][2] was subdivided into the current Northern and Southern Districts on July 20, 1882, by 22 Stat. 172.[2] Initially, one judge was assigned to each District.

By 1927, a backlog of unresolved cases dating back to 1920 had developed.[3] In October 1927, Judge Martin Joseph Wade announced that he "was through" attempting to try cases requiring more than one day, but urged Congress to create a second judgeship for the Southern District of Iowa.[3] On January 19, 1928, President Calvin Coolidge signed into law a bill that authorized a second judgeship for the District, with the proviso that when the existing judgeship (held by Judge Wade) becomes vacant, it shall not be filled unless authorized by Congress.[4] When the original judgeship became vacant upon Wade's death in 1931, Congress did not act to reauthorize it, leaving the Southern District with a single judgeship.[5] A second judgeship in the Southern District was not reauthorized by Congress until 1979, with the creation of the judgeship first held by Harold Duane Vietor.[6]

In 1962, Congress created a new judgeship that would be shared by the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa.[7] The shared judgeship was replaced in 1990 when the shared judgeship (then held by Judge Donald Eugene O'Brien) was assigned entirely to the Northern District, and a third Southern District judgeship (first held by Judge Ronald Earl Longstaff) was authorized.[8]

John Alfred Jarvey, Stephanie Marie Rose and Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger currently serve on the bench as full, Article III judges while Ronald Earl Longstaff, Robert W. Pratt, Charles Wolle, and James E. Gritzner have the status of senior judges.

It is headquartered at the United States Court House in Des Moines, with satellite facilities in Council Bluffs and at the United States Court House in Davenport. Kevin E. VanderSchel is the current United States Attorney.


Federal judicial districts and divisions in Iowa.
Northern District of Iowa
  Western Division
  Central Division
  Eastern Division
  Cedar Rapids Division
Southern District of Iowa
  Western Division
  Central Division
  Davenport Division

The Southern District of Iowa has three court divisions, each covering the following counties:

The Central Division, covering Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Boone, Clarke, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Greene, Guthrie, Jasper, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lucas, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Polk, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Story, Taylor, Union, Wapello, Warren and Wayne counties.

The Eastern Division, covering Clinton, Des Moines, Henry, Johnson, Lee, Louisa, Muscatine, Scott, Van Buren, and Washington counties.

The Western Division, covering Audubon, Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties.

Current Judges[edit]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
18 Chief Judge John Alfred Jarvey Davenport 1956 2007–present 2015–present G.W. Bush
19 District Judge Stephanie Marie Rose Des Moines 1972 2012–present Obama
20 District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger Des Moines 1975 2016–present Obama
14 Senior Judge Charles Robert Wolle Des Moines 1935 1987–2001 1992–2001 2001–present Reagan
15 Senior Judge Ronald Earl Longstaff Des Moines 1941 1991–2006 2001–2006 2006–present G.H.W. Bush
16 Senior Judge Robert W. Pratt Des Moines 1947 1997–2012 2006–2011 2012–present Clinton
17 Senior Judge James E. Gritzner Des Moines 1947 2002–2015 2011–2015 2015–present G.W. Bush

Former Judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Love, James M.James M. Love IA 1820–1891 1882–1891[Note 1] Pierce, Pierce death
2 Woolson, John SimsonJohn Simson Woolson IA 1840–1899 1891–1899[Note 2] Harrison, B.B. Harrison death
3 McPherson, SmithSmith McPherson IA 1848–1915 1900–1915 McKinley, McKinley death
4 Wade, Martin JosephMartin Joseph Wade IA 1861–1931 1915–1931 Wilson, Wilson death
5 Dewey, Charles AlmonCharles Almon Dewey IA 1877–1958 1928–1949 1949–1958 Coolidge, Coolidge death
6 Switzer, Carroll O.Carroll O. Switzer IA 1908–1960 1949–1950[Note 3] Truman, Truman not confirmed
7 Riley, William F.William F. Riley IA 1884–1956 1950–1956 Truman, Truman death
8 Hicklin, Edwin RichleyEdwin Richley Hicklin IA 1895–1963 1957–1960 1960–1963 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
9 Stephenson, Roy LaverneRoy Laverne Stephenson IA 1917–1982 1960–1971 1961–1971 Eisenhower, Eisenhower appointment to 8th Cir.
10 Hanson, William CookWilliam Cook Hanson IA 1909–1995 1962–1977 1971–1977 1977–1995 Kennedy, Kennedy death
11 Stuart, William CorwinWilliam Corwin Stuart IA 1920–2010 1971–1986 1977–1985 1986–2010 Nixon, Nixon death
12 O'Brien, Donald EugeneDonald Eugene O'Brien IA 1923–2015 1978–1990 Carter, Carter seat abolished
13 Vietor, Harold DuaneHarold Duane Vietor IA 1931–2016 1979–1996 1985–1992 1996–2016 Carter, Carter death
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Iowa
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 10, 1891, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 11, 1892, and received commission on January 11, 1892.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.

Succession of seats[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 394.
  2. ^ a b U.S. District Courts of Iowa, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ a b "Judge Wade Hits Delayed Legal Cases," Sioux City Journal, 1927-10-06, p. 1.
  4. ^ Pub. L. No. 6, ch. 10, 70th Cong., 1st Sess, 45 Stat. 52.
  5. ^ "No Additional Judgeship Created in Southern Iowa," Atlantic News-Telegraph, 1931-04-18 p. 5.
  6. ^ 92 Stat. 1629.
  7. ^ 75 Stat. 80.
  8. ^ 104 Stat. 5089.

External links[edit]