Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley Recommends Two Outstanding Iowans for Federal Judgeships

Apr 15, 2015

            WASHINGTON – Following a review process that welcomed all interested Iowa lawyers for consideration, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is recommending to President Barak 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.

            Immediately below is background information for Strand and Ebinger.  An op-ed from Grassley that appeared today in the Des Moines Register is at the bottom of the release and can also be found here.


Leonard Strand
Education
•    University of Iowa College of Law, J.D. with highest distinction, 1990
o    Recipient, John F. Murray Prize for the highest grade point average in graduating class
o    Presidential Scholar
o    Order of the Coif
o    Member, Journal of Corporation Law
•    University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts, B.A. in Political Science, 1987
o    Phi Beta Kappa
o    Recipient, Laurence Fairall Scholarship

Professional Experience
•    United States Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, 2012 – present
o    Eighth Circuit Jury Instructions Committee
o    Currently leading a review and update of the court’s local rules
•    Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman PLC
o    Partner, 1996 – 2012
o    Associate Attorney, 1990 – 1995

Professional Associations & Memberships
•    American Bar Association, 1990 – present
•    Iowa State Bar Association, 1990 – 2012
•    Woodbury County Bar Association, 2012 – present
•    Linn County Bar Association, 1990 – 2012
•    Iowa Defense Counsel Association, 1992 – 2011
•    International Association of Defense Counsel, 2004 – 2011
•    Dean Mason Ladd American Inn of Court, 1994 – 1996, 2005 – 2010
•    The Northern District of Iowa Branch of the Historical Society of the United States Courts in the Eighth Circuit
o    Director, 2008 – present
o    President, 2008 – 2012

 

Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger
Education
•    Yale Law School, J.D., 2004
o    Editor, Yale Law Journal, 2002 – 2003
o    Potter Stewart Award Recipient (winning team), The Morris Tyler Moore Moot Court, 2003
•    William and Mary Law School, 2001 – 2002
o    Designated Recipient, William A.R. Goodwin Memorial Scholarship (presented to the first-year student who finishes first in the class)
•    Georgetown University, B.S. in Foreign Service, 1997

Professional Experience
•    District Judge, Judicial Election District 5C, 2012 – present
o    Polk County Courthouse Security Committee, 2012 – present
o    Committee for the revision of the Iowa Judicial Bench Book, 2014 – present
o    Iowa Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, 2014 – present
•    Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, 2011 – 2012
•    Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, 2008 – 2011
•    Law Clerk to the Honorable Michael J. Melloy, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2006 – 2008
•    Special Assistant U.S. Attorney/Assistant County Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa & Black Hawk County Attorney’s Office, 2004 – 2006

Professional Associations & Memberships
•    American Judges Association, 2013 – 2014
•    C. Edwin Moore American Inn of Court, Barrister & Master, 2012 – present
•    Iowa Judges Association, 2012 – present
•    Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys, 2004 – present
o    Board Member, 2007 – 2012
•    Iowa State Bar Association, 2004 – present
•    Linn County Bar Association, 2004 – present
•    Linn Law Club, 2004 – 2011
o    Vice President, 2009 – 2010
•    National Association of Women Judges, 2012 – present
•    Polk County Bar Association, 2012 – present
•    Polk County Women Attorneys, 2012 – present


Working to Secure Iowa’s Judicial Legacy
by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 
This year, Chief Judge James E. Gritzner of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa and former Chief Judge Mark W. Bennett of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa take senior status and cap off a combined 37 years of extraordinary public service to our state.

Their vacancies provide a rare opportunity to select new federal judges in Iowa.  With broad jurisdiction spanning civil and criminal court cases, the dockets wield extensive influence.  In the checks and balances of our system of government, these judges are guardians of the Constitution and the individual rights and liberties it secures.

In Iowa, a rich legal heritage took root even before Iowa became the 29th state in 1846.  In 1845, the 28th Congress created the District Court of Iowa.  In 1869, the first woman in the country admitted to practice law was an Iowan named Arabella “Belle Babb” Mansfield.  Congress later split Iowa into Northern and Southern Districts and, since 1882, these two federal district courts and the judges who have served on them have been charged with the impartial administration of justice for Iowans.  

In Washington, by tradition, U.S. senators make recommendations to the President for federal judicial vacancies in their home states.  In anticipation of the Gritzner and Bennett vacancies, last December, I announced a search for candidates to recommend to the President.  The goal was to make it possible for any Iowa lawyer to apply and to identify outstanding nominees.

To receive and review candidates, I established a Judicial Selection Commission comprised of first-rate members of the Iowa legal community.  Led by Cynthia Moser, of Sioux City, who previously served as President of the Iowa State Bar Association, other members of the Commission included Richard Sapp, Jeffrey Goodman, Harlan D. Hockenberg, and Adam Freed.  

These highly respected lawyers devoted hundreds of hours and countless days to the careful review of applications.  The Commission interviewed every single one of the 39 Iowans who submitted an application and sought consideration.  Eleven applicants participated in lengthy second interviews.  The Commission’s review included not only these interviews but also careful study and examination of applicants’ professional history, credentials, and qualifications.  From this pool, the Commission had the unenviable task of narrowing the field to the recommendations it gave me.  Without a doubt, the Commissioners’ own experience, expertise, and commitment to an exhaustive process made possible a review and analysis that was extraordinary by any measure.

I also have consulted with U.S. 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, my immediate predecessor in chairing the committee, who steadfastly honored the tradition even as some in his own party called for its demise.  I appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it.  

Now, based on all of the work that went into an effort that welcomed candidates and resulted in judicious consideration by a five-member panel of Iowa lawyers, I’m pleased to recommend to the President Leonard Strand for the Northern District of Iowa and Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger for the Southern District of Iowa.

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 College of Law at the University of Iowa 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, was an assistant U.S. attorney in 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.

These two Iowans are well suited to honor Iowa’s judicial legacy and serve our state, nation, and Constitution with distinction in lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary.  


U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of New Hartford serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for approving the President’s Article III judicial nominations, including nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, 13 judicial circuits and 94 U.S. district courts, including Iowa’s Northern and Southern Districts.

 

 

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