Local News

December 10, 2012

Osky law student looks at Iowa Supreme Court

OSKALOOSA — Iowa is only one of two states that has an all-male Supreme Court and law student Gina Messamer, of Oskaloosa, suggests some changes to balance that out.

Messamer is a third-year law student at the University of Iowa and wrote a study on the issue for the Iowa Law Review.

“I wrote this last year as a student writer,” she said.

Messamer said she got the idea to write about the Iowa Supreme Court while she was doing an externship for Judge Mary Tabor. She also read a history of the Iowa Court of Appeals done by Judge Richard Doyle for Drake University and was interested by the issue.

Messamer began writing her study in the fall of 2011 and finished it this past spring. She did some revisions during the summer and it was published in the first volume of the Law Review this school year.

The University of Iowa News Service did a profile of Messamer and her work. In her study, Messamer discovered that Iowa has had only two female justices in its history — Linda Neuman, from 1986 to 2003, and Marcia Ternus, from 1993 to 2010.

Idaho is the only other state in the nation with an all-male supreme court. Indiana recently had a female justice join its supreme court, Messamer said.

Iowa has the Judicial Nominating Commission that reviews and nominates supreme court candidates to the governor to fill judicial vacancies. The governor selects half of the members of the Judicial Nominating Commission while the Iowa Bar Association fills the other half. The governor appoints lay people to the commission while the bar association appoints legal professionals, Messamer said.

During her study, Messamer found that from 1978 to 2011, only 21 percent of applicants for supreme court justice vacancies were women and only 10 percent of the nominating commission members during that time were women, the University of Iowa News Service reported.

Messamer makes some recommendations to redress the imbalance. She said awareness of the situation could be raised by state officials if they compared the number of female judges and justices and the number of women available for those positions and compare that to other states. Also, members of the Judicial Nominating Commission should be trained to be aware of their own potential biases. Finally, candidates should be evaluated based on their successes at each judicial level and how that could be applied for the position they are applying for, according to the University of Iowa News Service.

Messamer said she has had some positive feedback about her study.

“People have been nice about it,” she said. “People are happy that someone has done this research.”

There are women who are trying to get more female candidates for supreme court and federal court, she said.

Messamer said that about half of her law school class is composed of women. She said law school classes typically include between 40 and 45 percent women.

After she completes law school, Messamer said that she wants to work for Justice Thomas Waterman.

Messamer is a 2004 graduate of Oskaloosa High School. She earned her bachelors degree in marketing and political science from Texas Christian University in 2008.


Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com

Text Only
Local News
  • Georgiana engages community OSKALOOSA — It’s been 30 years since the musical “Georgiana” was last produced in Oskaloosa, and nine years since Randall Wright last directed a play. Both of those change next week when the musical performs July 17, 18, and 19 at 7 p.m. at the Geor

    July 11, 2014

  • Georgiana photo 2 'Georgiana' Iola Cadwallader's family story brought to life OSKALOOSA — At precisely 7 p.m. July 17, “Georgiana” will once again come to life on an Oskaloosa stage. The musical was first performed in 1980 by The Oskaloosa Community Theatre.Written by Iola Cadwallader, “Georgiana” is a musical titled after the

    July 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Horticulture photo People learn to show plants at the Fair OSKALOOSA — Local residents learned how to show plants at The Southern Iowa Fair at a Tuesday evening class at the Iowa State University Extension Office.Suzette Striegel, horticulturist at the Mahaska County Extension Office, said that the purpose o

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kraig Van Hulzen fills vacant seat OSKALOOSA — There will be a new member of the Oskaloosa School Board when the group convenes for its August meeting. The board met Tuesday night with the evening ending with the appointment of Kraig Van Hulzen as a new board member.Board member Charl

    July 10, 2014

  • Georgiana photo 1 'Georgiana' crew has wish list OSKALOOSA — The cast and crew of “Georgiana” have a wish list of props they need for their production and they hope the public can help find them.“Georgiana” is written by Iola Powell Cadwallader and details her family's life from 1918 to 1957. The p

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Osky Storm Photo 7-10 Oskaloosa Storm win Wisconsin Ho Down Tournament; 2014 state runner-up OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa Storm 12U baseball team went 5-0 in the Wisconsin Dells.The Storm played their first pool game against the Chicago Diamond Dawgs and won with a score of 10-8. The second pool game was against the Wisconsin Greenfield Jr. H

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Phyllis Eson Elderly woman accused of killing 89-year-old husband

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Artifact 7-9 Do you know what this is?

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oskaloosa has plan to deal with Ash Borer OSKALOOSA — The Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Eddyville, and the city of Oskaloosa has a plan to deal with the situation.The Emerald Ash Borer is a small, metallic-green beetle from Asia that arrived in Detroit in about 2002. The insect has bee

    July 8, 2014

  • YMCA photo YMCA Summer Day Camp teaches core values, fun activities OSKALOOSA — The YMCA Summer Day Camp, which teaches children the core values of honor, respect, and responsibility, offers fun and exciting activities for children to learn, play and enjoy nature.The activities are held at the new and improved Bruce

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

Oskaloosa Shopper
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Photo reprints