Date: November 12, 2013, 7:30pm
Location: Old Capitol Senate Chamber

Marsha Ternus is the former chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.  She was appointed to the court in 1993 by Governor Terry Branstad and was selected by her peers to serve as chief justice in 2006.  As chief justice, she made the improvement of court oversight of child welfare cases and the expansion of access to the courts priorities for the Iowa Judicial Branch.  After serving more than seventeen years on the court, her term expired on December 31, 2010.

In May 2012, Ms. Ternus and two of her colleagues on the court were honored with the 2012 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award. In announcing the award, the Kennedy Presidential Library stated the three justices “were chosen in recognition of the political courage and judicial independence each demonstrated in setting aside popular opinion to uphold the basic freedoms and security guaranteed to all citizens under the Iowa constitution.”  In 2011, she and her two colleagues also received the Louise Noun Civil Liberties Award.

Ms. Ternus has now returned to the private practice of law in Des Moines, focusing on appellate and litigation consulting and arbitration.  She was recently appointed to serve as the first director of The Harkin Institute of Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University.  Ms. Ternus is a frequent lecturer on judicial independence, judicial selection and retention, the politicization of the judiciary, and restorative justice, and taught a short course on restorative justice at Grinnell College in the spring of 2013.

Ms. Ternus received her bachelor's degree with honors and high distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Iowa in 1972.  She earned her law degree with honors, Order of the Coif, from Drake University Law School in 1977.  While at Drake, Ms. Ternus served as editor-in-chief of the Drake Law Review.  She holds honorary degrees from Coe College, Simpson College and Iowa Wesleyan College.  Before joining the Supreme Court, Ms. Ternus worked in private law practice for sixteen years with a Des Moines, Iowa law firm with a primary emphasis on civil litigation and insurance law.  

Supported by Student Legal Services.