District court judge appointed to Iowa Court of Appeals

The judicial landscape in Iowa’s sixth district where Tama County resides will soon be changing.

On Dec. 7 Gov. Reynolds announced the appointment of Mary Chicchelly as a judge of the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Chicchelly, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, currently serves as a district judge in Judicial Election District  6, which includes Tama County.

She has served in that role since March 2013 and is a past president of the Iowa Judges Association.

In Tama County one of the higher profile criminal cases Chicchelly presided over was the Dustin Jefferson murder trial in 2015-16.

Before her appointment to the district court, Chicchelly practiced law in the Cedar Rapids area. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and her law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law.

Chicchelly was among three finalists considered by the 17-member State Judicial Nominating Commission to fill the vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Michael R. Mullins of Washington.

The other finalists for the seat were Judge Gina Badding of Carroll and Judge Joel Barrows of Bettendorf.

The Iowa Court of Appeals is Iowa’s intermediate appellate court. It is composed of nine judges and decides appeals from district courts across Iowa.

Chicchelly’s last day with the 6th Judicial District will be January 13.

Until her replacement is appointed, there will remain 12 district court judges in the 6th Judicial District. The district includes the counties of Tama, Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Linn and Jones, two of which are among the State’s top five most populated.

Tama County and Iowa County were also among two counties to lose a magistrate judge earlier this year during the magistrate reapportionment process.

The procedure to fill the 6th Judicial District vacancy left by Judge Chicchelly will formally occur once a letter of resignation has been filed.

Within 10 days of receiving the resignation notice, the governor will call a meeting of the District 6 Judicial Nominating Commission.

At the meeting, the commission will establish the procedure for filling the vacancy. The commission will then send notices of the vacancy to lawyers with instructions on how to apply and issue a news release.

Commission members include five members elected by lawyers, and five non-lawyer members appointed by the governor.

Tama County is represented on the commission by Toledo CPA Charlotte Upah who was appointed by Gov. Reynolds to the post in 2020.

The commission then has 60 days after receiving notice of the vacancy from the governor to submit two names to the governor to recommend to fill the vacancy. From that point Gov. Reynolds has 30 days to fill the vacancy from the list of nominees, which means the 6th Judicial District could be without one of their district court judges for multiple months.