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Lawyer formally challenges Iowa governor’s judge appointment

October 9, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa attorney is filing a formal complaint claiming a state district court judge is unlawfully holding the office because he was not properly appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Lawyer Gary Dickey says Reynolds failed to appoint Judge Jason Besler within 30 days as required by the Iowa Constitution.

Dickey sent a letter Tuesday to Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness asking her to file with the court a motion seeking to clarify Besler’s legal authority.

If Lyness declines, Dickey says Iowa court rules allow him to file such a motion.

Dickey, who served as former Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack’s chief attorney, says a judge must declare whether Reynolds’ verbal appointment is sufficient to satisfy constitutional appointment requirements. If not, Dickey says Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady could ratify the appointment or Besler could be removed from the bench.

Reynolds filed the paperwork to appoint Besler in June, five days after a 30-day constitutional deadline had passed. She says she made the appointment verbally to a staff member.

Dickey says litigants appearing before Besler could challenge his decisions if his legal status as a sitting judge isn’t clarified.

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