Following unanimous support from a Judicial Selection Commission, Sens. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Joni Ernst have recommended Judge Stephen H. Locher of Des Moines to President Joe Biden for an upcoming vacancy on the federal bench. The seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa is being vacated by retiring Chief District Judge John A. Jarvey.
Locher is a U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Iowa. Previously, he practiced law at Belin McCormick, P.C. in Des Moines, where he worked on both civil and criminal cases, and represented defendants, plaintiffs and crime victims alike. He also served as the firm’s ethics counsel.
The recommendations come after an extensive review by a Judicial Selection Commission 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.
Last year, Grassley and Ernst welcomed applications from any interested candidate in Iowa’s legal community. The commission spent hundreds of hours reviewing and interviewing all applicants. These reviews included a thorough study and examination of the applicants’ professional history, credentials and qualifications. Following the commission’s unanimous support for Locher, Grassley and Ernst forwarded their recommendation to the White House for the upcoming vacancy.
“Judge Locher has diverse legal experience and glowing credentials,” Grassley said. “I appreciate the commission’s work in interviewing all of the outstanding candidates from across the state. The long hours the commissioners put into such a thorough review and careful consideration of each applicant are a testament to their commitment to ensuring we have the most qualified judges in our federal courts in Iowa.”
“I’m very pleased to join Senator Grassley in recommending someone for this judgeship with an outstanding record and impeccable credentials. Judge Locher will be an excellent choice for this important position,” Ernst said. “I’d like to thank all of the outstanding candidates from across our state who applied for this position as well as the members of the Commission for their hard work in carefully considering these individuals.”
For more than a century, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has brought district court nominees up for committee consideration only after both home-state senators indicate their approval by signing a “blue slip.” This tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus between the White House and home-state senators. It’s also consistent with the constitutional requirement that the President seek the advice and consent of the Senate for judicial nominees. Over the years, Judiciary Committee chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process for district court vacancies.
More details on Locher’s background and qualifications follow:
- Harvard Law School, J.D., 2003
- University of Notre Dame, B.A. in Government and Economics, Magna Cum Laude, 2000
- United States Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, June 2021 – present
- Partner, Belin McCormick, P.C., January 2013 – May 2021
- Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, November 2008 – January 2013
- Litigation Associate, Goldberg, Kohn, Bell, Black, Rosenbloom & Moritz, LLP, September 2004 – October 2008
- Judicial Law Clerk for Judge John Gibson on Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, August 2003 – August 2004
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Bar Association
- Iowa State Bar Association
- Federal Magistrate Judges Association
- Frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars and events.
- Hundreds of hours of community service in Central Iowa, primarily in programs.