When Judge Daryl Hecht heard Gov. Tom Vilsack's greeting on the phone Tuesday morning, he figured it was good news.
Hecht, a member of the Iowa Court of Appeals, was one of three final nominees to be appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court, and had been interviewed Friday by the State Judicial Nominating Commission.
Knowing that tradition holds that a governor staffer calls to advise those who don't get the final nod, Hecht dryly said, "I was pleased to hear the governor's voice."
Vilsack appointed Hecht of rural Sloan to serve as an Iowa Supreme Court justice, filling the vacancy coming when Chief Justice Louis Lavorato retires on Sept. 29. A new chief justice will be selected by the remaining Supreme Court justices.
Hecht has served on the Iowa Court of Appeals since 1999, and previous to that position he worked in private practice of law in Sioux City for 22 years.
"Judge Hecht possesses a keen legal mind and I was thoroughly impressed by his deep respect for the laws upon which our country was founded," Vilsack said. "He will make a fine justice who will continue to serve the people of this state fairly and honorably."
Raised on a Lytton, Iowa, family farm, Hecht possesses degrees from Morningside College, University of South Dakota and University of Virginia. By midafternoon Tuesday he was getting calls from well-wishers from all over the state.
He said becoming a Supreme Court justice "became an aspiration at least 10 years ago. It was about that time I was starting to contemplate a move from the practice of law to the bench, when I sort of conceived the idea or dream that I'd like to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court."
Woodbury County Bar Association president Rebecca Nelson praised the appointment of Hecht, whom she knew in the mid-1980s, before she became an attorney, while working as a secretary in the same firm that Hecht did.
"I think it is a great thing for Sioux City and Woodbury County," Nelson said.
"Daryl was a very well respected attorney here in Sioux City and very well respected judge on the appeals court. I think he will do a wonderful job on the Iowa Supreme Court. I think everybody considers him very fair and open-minded, intellectual and certainly up to the task of being a Supreme Court justice."
In the last calendar year, the court decided 136 cases.
Hecht had sought a 2003 vacancy on the Supreme Court and was one of three nominees that year.
This year, a total of 17 judges and lawyers from Iowa applied for the Supreme Court position. The other finalists included District Judge Arthur Gamble of Des Moines, who has served as the 5th Judicial District's Chief Judge since 1995, and District Judge Dale Ruigh of Ames, who was appointed to the bench in 1981.
Hecht will serve as an Iowa Supreme Court justice from Sept. 30, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2008. He will be on the November 2008 ballot for retention.
Said Hecht, "It has been a great honor to serve on the Iowa Court of Appeals since September 1999. My eight colleagues on that court have been wonderful to work with, and I have great respect for each and every one of them. I now look forward to serving the citizens of Iowa in a new capacity."