Law-school alum heads to Iowa Supreme Court

Judge Christopher McDonald is Gov. Kim Reynolds’ pick for the Iowa Supreme Court.


Dave Harmantas

The University of Iowa College of Law’s Boyd Law Building on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. The College of Law is the number 20 ranked law school in the country.

Andy Mitchell

Judge Christopher McDonald spread his Hawkeye wings and landed as the newest justice to serve in the state’s highest court.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has picked McDonald, a University of Iowa College of Law alumnus, to join the Iowa Supreme Court.

Reynolds announced her selection Wednesday morning at the State Capitol. McDonald will be the first minority to serve on the court.

“I know that as the first minority or person of color appointed to the [Iowa] Supreme Court, people will have special expectations for me in terms of leadership and mentorship,” McDonald said at the Capitol. “I understand that, I appreciate that, and I embrace those expectations.”

McDonald has served on the Iowa Court of Appeals since September 2013 and has served as a district judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit.


“Judge McDonald has a wealth of life experience that has prepared him exceptionally well to serve our state in this new role,” Reynolds said. “He is a brilliant and thoughtful jurist who will bring a diverse and fair perspective to the bench. That’s vital, as Iowans deserve a judge who believes in applying the law, not making it.”

McDonald is Reynolds’ second appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court. He received an undergraduate degree from Grand View University and a law degree from the UI law school.

“Although only 44 years old, Judge McDonald has a wealth of life experience that has prepared him exceptionally well to serve Iowans on the Supreme Court,” Reynolds said.

McDonald was born in Bangkok to a Scottish-Irish father and Vietnamese mother and spent years of his young childhood on various military bases around the world before his family settled in Des Moines.

After Reynolds spoke, McDonald took the podium and thanked his peers, including UI law Professor Jim Tomkovicz.

“I know I have big shoes to fill, and I know I will certainly do my best to do that,” McDonald said.