United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
(S.D. Iowa)
The Northern (red) and Southern (blue) Districts of Iowa
LocationUnited States Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toEighth Circuit
EstablishedJuly 20, 1882
Chief JudgeStephanie M. Rose
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyRichard D. Westphal
U.S. MarshalTed G. Kamatchus

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 E. 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]

In 2012, Judge Stephanie M. Rose was the first woman appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Iowa.[9]

It is headquartered at the United States Courthouse in Des Moines, with satellite facilities in Council Bluffs and at the United States Court House in Davenport. As of November 16, 2021, the United States attorney is Richard D. Westphal.[10]


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

As of July 18, 2022:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
19 Chief Judge Stephanie M. Rose Des Moines 1972 2012–present 2022–present Obama
20 District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger Des Moines 1975 2016–present Obama
21 District Judge Stephen H. Locher Des Moines 1978 2022–present Biden
15 Senior Judge Ronald Earl Longstaff inactive 1941 1991–2006 2001–2006 2006–present G.H.W. Bush
16 Senior Judge Robert W. Pratt inactive 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

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 James M. Love IA 1820–1891 1882–1891[Note 1] Pierce/Operation of law death
2 John Simson Woolson IA 1840–1899 1891–1899[Note 2] B. Harrison death
3 Smith McPherson IA 1848–1915 1900–1915 McKinley death
4 Martin Joseph Wade IA 1861–1931 1915–1931 Wilson death
5 Charles Almon Dewey IA 1877–1958 1928–1949 1949–1958 Coolidge death
6 Carroll O. Switzer IA 1908–1960 1949–1950[Note 3] Truman not confirmed
7 William F. Riley IA 1884–1956 1950–1956 Truman death
8 Edwin Richley Hicklin IA 1895–1963 1957–1960 1960–1963 Eisenhower death
9 Roy Laverne Stephenson IA 1917–1982 1960–1971 1961–1971 Eisenhower elevation to 8th Cir.
10 William Cook Hanson IA 1909–1995 1962–1977[Note 4] 1971–1977 1977–1995 Kennedy death
11 William Corwin Stuart IA 1920–2010 1971–1986 1977–1985 1986–2010 Nixon death
12 Donald E. O'Brien IA 1923–2015 1978–1990[Note 4] Carter seat abolished
13 Harold Duane Vietor IA 1931–2016 1979–1996 1985–1992 1996–2016 Carter death
14 Charles R. Wolle IA 1935–2022 1987–2001 1992–2001 2001–2021 Reagan retirement
18 John Alfred Jarvey IA 1956–present 2007–2022 2015–2022 G.W. Bush retirement
  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 the same day
  3. ^ Recess appointment; the Senate later rejected the appointment.
  4. ^ a b Jointly appointed to the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa.

Chief judges

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge.

A vacancy is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years, or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position.

When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire, on what has since 1958 been known as senior status, or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.

Succession of seats

U.S. Attorneys

See also


  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.
  9. ^ "First on the Bench | University of Iowa". magazine.foriowa.org.
  10. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney". January 10, 2022. Archived from the original on October 20, 2021.
  11. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney | USAO-SDIA | Department of Justice". web.archive.org. 2021-10-20. Retrieved 2024-04-13.
  12. ^ "The Political Graveyard: U.S. District Attorneys in Iowa". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved 2024-04-13.
  13. ^ "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Valentine". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved 2024-04-13.

41°35′15.1″N 93°36′55.0″W / 41.587528°N 93.615278°W / 41.587528; -93.615278