Grassley recommends two Iowans for federal judgeships

Justice 1From Press Release


Following a review process that welcomed all interested Iowa lawyers for consideration, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is recommending to President Barack Obama two outstanding Iowans for open judgeships on the federal bench.

Grassley is recommending Leonard Strand of Sioux City to be a judge for the Northern District of Iowa and Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger of Des Moines to be a judge for the Southern District of Iowa.  The vacancies arise this year because Chief Judge James Gritzner of the Southern District and former Chief Judge Mark Bennett of the Northern District are taking senior status.

The recommendations come after an extensive effort by a Judicial Selection Commission that Grassley formed after Gritzner and Bennett announced their intention to take senior status.  The Commission was comprised of highly qualified members of the Iowa legal community, and led by Cynthia Moser, a former Iowa State Bar Association president. The Commission also included Richard Sapp, Jeffrey Goodman, Harlan D. Hockenberg, and Adam Freed.

These lawyers spent hundreds of hours carefully reviewing applications and interviewing each of the 39 Iowans who submitted applications and sought consideration.  Eleven applicants were then selected to participate in a lengthy second interview.  The Commission’s review included not only these interviews, but also a thorough study and examination of the applicants’ professional history, credentials, and qualifications.  The Commission then made recommendations to Grassley, who reviewed the candidates and their qualifications before submitting his recommendations to the White House.

“Both Judge Strand and Judge Ebinger are two individuals with exceptional legal credentials,” Grassley said.  “I appreciate the Commission’s work in narrowing down all of the outstanding candidates from across the state.  The long hours the commissioners put into such a thorough review and careful consideration are a testament to their commitment to ensuring we have the most qualified judges in our federal courts.”

Grassley has consulted with Senator Joni Ernst, whose support any potential nominee will need in order to proceed after the President’s nomination.  For nearly a century, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary

Committee has brought nominees up for committee consideration only after both home-state senators have signed and returned what’s known as a “blue slip.”  This tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus between the White House and home-state senators.  Over the years, Judiciary Committee chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process including Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Grassley’s immediate predecessor in chairing the committee.

Strand currently serves as a U.S. magistrate judge in Sioux City for the Northern District of Iowa.  He graduated first in his class from the University of Iowa College of Law and brings extensive experience in civil litigation from private practice in Cedar Rapids.

Ebinger is a state district judge in Polk County.  She graduated from Yale Law School, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for both the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa, and clerked for Judge Michael J. Melloy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.