Northern District of Iowa: A Longstanding Federal Court


The Northern District of Iowa is one of two federal judicial districts in the state of Iowa. It encompasses the northern and central regions of the state and plays an important role in the federal court system. With roots going back to 1882, the Northern District has a long history of serving Iowa through its fair administration of justice.

Key Details

The U.S. Marshal position for the Northern District is currently vacant after the previous marshal retired in 2022. The main courthouse is the Cedar Rapids United States Courthouse located at 111 7th Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids. This district was established in 1882 by the Judiciary Act of Congress. It covers a total of 45 counties across northern and central Iowa. Regular court sessions are held in both Cedar Rapids and Sioux City.

Federal Court System

The Northern District is part of the federal court system, which consists of district courts, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court. There are 94 federal judicial districts in the U.S. District courts are the federal trial courts where both civil and criminal cases are filed and heard. The Northern District has jurisdiction over cases arising under federal law within its geographical boundaries. Appeals from the district court go to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

See also  Philadelphia Municipal Court

Northern District Judges and Staff

The Northern District currently has four active district judges who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Chief Judge is Linda R. Reade, who maintains primary responsibility for managing the court’s operations. There are also three magistrate judges who handle preliminary criminal matters, prisoner cases, and some civil trials. Every district has a Clerk of Court who oversees administrative functions and maintains court records. The U.S. Attorney leads federal prosecutors in the district.

Notable Cases

The Northern District has presided over many influential cases through the years. These include a major milk price-fixing conspiracy case in the 1990s, a free speech case involving a student’s “Pants on Fire” t-shirt, and one of the largest immigration raid cases in the U.S. in 2008 involving Agriprocessors Inc.

Court Operations and Proceedings

The Northern District handles a full range of civil, criminal, and bankruptcy cases. On the civil side, the court oversees cases involving federal regulatory laws, government agencies, civil rights, and more. Criminal cases range from white collar crime to drug trafficking and firearms offenses. The court also handles bankruptcy filings and proceedings under federal bankruptcy law. Trials typically involve a jury, while other court proceedings do not. The court follows the annual schedule issued at the start of each year.

Courthouses and Facilities

The Northern District is headquartered at the Cedar Rapids U.S. Courthouse, which houses two district courtrooms, judges’ chambers, the clerk’s office, and other court offices. A secondary courthouse is located in Sioux City with one courtroom and office space. Each courthouse has modern equipment for videoconferencing and electronic case filing and records access. Security is handled by the U.S. Marshals Service.


Serving in the Northern District

U.S. citizens in the Northern District may be called for jury duty by receiving a jury summons in the mail. Jury duty allows citizens to actively participate in the judicial process. The Northern District also offers employment opportunities for legal professionals like attorneys, law clerks, administrators, technical specialists, and more.


For over 140 years, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa has served a vital role in the federal judicial system. Its dedicated judges and staff have worked to provide fair and efficient justice through adherence to the rule of law. The Northern District continues to evolve to meet the needs of Iowans in its jurisdiction.


  • How many district judges serve on the Northern District of Iowa? There are currently four active federal district court judges serving on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.
  • What types of cases does the Northern District handle? The court handles a full range of federal civil and criminal cases, including regulatory, fraud, drug, civil rights, intellectual property, and bankruptcy cases arising within its district.
  • Where are the courthouses located? The main courthouse is in Cedar Rapids. A secondary courthouse for the district is located in Sioux City.
  • Who oversees the daily operations of the court? The Clerk of Court manages the administrative and operational aspects of the court under the governance of the Chief Judge.
  • How can I obtain records from a case in the Northern District? Many court records can be accessed through PACER, the online system for electronic court records. Some records require a trip to the clerk’s office.
See also  Brown County Circuit Clerk

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