Outdoor swearing-in slated for Sandy's district judgeship

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Photo submitted

The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors gave its approval for newly-selected district court judge John M. Sandy of Spirit Lake to be sworn in on the lawn of the county courthouse. Sandy was one of two finalists — both from Spirit Lake — chosen to potentially fill the open seat left by the retirement of Iowa's District 3A Court Judge David A. Lester. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on March 25 that Sandy would be appointed to the bench. The investiture ceremony is tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of June 18 with a reception to follow.

Sandy sought the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors' permission for the June ceremony during Tuesday's regular meeting. He explained the swearing-in is usually done at the judge's home courtroom or courthouse, wherever it happens to be. Sandy felt, with the Dickinson County Courthouse still subject to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, specifically social distancing, an outdoor ceremony would be best.

"I can think of no better backdrop for that type of ceremony than the facade of the courthouse," Sandy said, later adding the event will showcase the building for visiting judges. "I think it's pretty impressive and beautiful."

Sandy practiced law with the Sandy Law Firm, P.C., in Spirit Lake and also served as a Minnesota assistant public defender, according to the governor's office. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He practiced in both Iowa and Minnesota, said 15-20 judges might attend between the two states, as well as numerous legal professionals and visitors. Iowa's District 3A judgeship includes Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Palo Alto Counties.

Sandy said the last Dickinson County native to maintain a private law practice and be appointed to the district's court bench was Judge Harry E. Narey, whom Sandy noted was born 20 years after the end of the Civil War. Narey was appointed to the district bench in 1944, according to Sandy, and retired in 1959. Sandy said he feels the public should be able to witness the upcoming ceremony, given how infrequently it occurs locally.

"Take me out of it — it's not about me — but I think it's important that the community see it in as public a way as possible, because there's 10 (counties) in (district) 3A, and to have one of the five judges presiding over all of northwest Iowa come from this county — I think it's a pretty special deal, and I think the community should be part of it as much as possible, and I think having it outside achieves that," Sandy said.

The board was supportive of Sandy's proposal. Supervisor Jeff Thee expressed his pride in moving for the ceremony to be held outside the courthouse, and the other board members followed suit in passing the motion unanimously.

"I think that would be an excellent place for that event," Supervisor Tim Fairchild said, thanking Sandy for considering the courthouse's COVID mitigation plans. "It would be a beautiful site."

Sandy estimated the ceremony itself will last approximately 20 minutes, and he is open to holding the event at another location, such as the Dickinson County Nature Center or Dickinson County Expo Building, if weather is an issue that day.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: