Christopher McDonald Sworn in, First Person of Color on Iowa Supreme Court

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- History was made Friday when the first man of color joined the Iowa Supreme Court.

One-hundred and ten justices have sat on the Iowa Supreme Court in the last 178 years. Friday afternoon Christopher McDonald, a Vietnamese American, became the 111th.

McDonald’s road to the high court has not been an easy one. He was born in Bangkok, Thailand, on a military base and traveled around the world as a child. When his parents divorced, he wound up in Des Moines with his mother and his siblings. He started working at the age of 14 to help the family pay its bills. He worked his way through undergraduate studies and law school at the University of Iowa. He began his judicial career in Polk County before joining the appellate bench.

Before he was sworn in, former colleague David Hansen told the court that McDonald is one of the greatest legal minds he has ever met, and every step of his journey was worthwhile.

“Where you treated every litigant and defendant with respect, recognizing each one's individual dignity, and as a hard-working judge on a very busy Iowa Court of Appeals, you sir, have demonstrated over and over again that you and the law are an amazingly good fit,” said Hansen.

McDonald replaces Daryl Hecht on the high court. Hecht retired from the bench last year as he battled melanoma. He passed away earlier this week.


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