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Chief judge successor named for 2nd Judicial District

James Drew

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen named District Court Judge James M. Drew, of Hampton, as the next chief judge for Fort Dodge’s 2nd Judicial District on Thursday.

Drew will succeed Chief Judge Kurt Wilke as he retires on Dec. 31 and will start in his new role on Jan. 1. He currently serves as an assistant chief judge and has been on the bench since February 1999.

“Judge Drew has the qualities and experience required of a good chief judge,” Christensen said in a news release. “His experience on the bench is especially important as the judicial branch is now working in new and unique ways to serve Iowans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Supreme Court is confident that Judge Drew will capably guide the administration of justice to meet the complex needs of Iowans in the Second Judicial District.”

As chief judge, Drew will supervise all judicial officers and court employees in the district, supervise the performance of administrative and judicial business in the district, set the times and places of holding court, designate presiding judges and serve on the judicial council, which advises the Supreme Court on administrative matters affecting the trial courts. He will also continue to preside over cases.

“I am honored to be chosen for the position and look forward to serving the people in the Second Judicial District in my new role,” Drew said.

Drew earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, in 1982 and his law degree with distinction from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in 1985. He was in private practice from 1986 to 1999, and additionally served as Franklin County attorney from 1988 to 1994. He has served on the board of directors for the Iowa Judges Association since 2010.

The 2nd Judicial District is the geographically largest district in the state, with 17 district court judges, 11 district associate court judges, five senior judges, 29 part-time magistrate court judges and 161 employees. The district encompasses 22 counties: Boone, Bremer, Butler, Calhoun, Carroll, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Marshall, Mitchell, Pocahontas, Sac, Story, Webster, Winnebago, Worth and Wright.

Wilke, who started in private practice in Fort Dodge in 1974, served as a Webster County Magistrate Court Judge from 1977 to 1992. The University of Minnesota undergraduate received his law degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1974. He has served as the judicial district’s chief judge for the last 13 years.

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