DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) —The Iowa Supreme Court has selected Justice Susan Christensen as chief justice of the seven-member court, replacing the late Chief Justice Mark Cady, who died of a heart attack last November.
Christensen, 57, of Harlan, Iowa, has been a member of the state’s highest appellate court since August 2018, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the court due to a retirement. Prior to her appointment, Christensen had served as a trial judge and before that had been an assistant county attorney and worked in private practice. Christensen’s father, the late Jerry Larson, was the longest-serving justice on the Iowa Supreme Court at 30 years.
Christensen is only the third woman to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court, and the second woman to be selected as the state’s chief justice.
“I am honored to be selected by my colleagues as chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court,” Christensen said in a statement released by the court Monday. “As chief justice, I will maintain my passion for child welfare and juvenile justice and do my best to lead Iowa’s judiciary in a manner which provides all 99 counties with fair and impartial justice.”
Under legislation passed in 2019, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court serves a two-year term but can be reelected to another two years.
Justice David Wiggins, who has been serving as acting chief justice, has announced his retirement next month.
Christensen praised Wiggins for stepping into a difficult transition.
“Three months ago, our court faced a sudden crisis with the unexpected death of Chief Justice Cady,” she said in the statement. “I am deeply appreciative of the immediate leadership by acting Chief Justice David Wiggins. He provided the stability to push forward with the court’s work while the judicial branch and entire state grieved for the Cady family.”