When Judge Gregory Hulse announced his retirement as a district judge, it meant there would be a vacant judicial seat to fill. On Friday, Jan. 26, Thomas Murphy of West Des Moines, was officially sworn in as a district court judge for Judicial District 5A, which includes Jasper, Marion, Warren, Madison, Guthrie and Dallas Counties.
Until the appointment, Murphy was an attorney at Hopkins & Huebner, P.C. in Adel. After the swearing in ceremony, he said he was happy and overwhelmed, and that there was a tremendous amount of support from great lawyers and judges in the State of Iowa.
“To me, the intimidating thing is joining the ranks of the men and women who I think are just tremendous judges,” Murphy said.
Murphy said that the process was “25 years in the making.” He submitted his application to the judicial commission in September, interviewed with Gov. Kim Reynolds in early November and his appointment was officially announced in a news release from Reynolds’ office on Nov. 27, 2017.
Being a district judge is Murphy’s end-of-career goal.
“I want to be a judge in rural Iowa, helping rural people, meeting with rural lawyers and helping people solve their problems out in those communities that I think need this representation,” Murphy said.
After taking the oath, administered by Hulse, Murphy gave remarks to the crowd, big enough to fill most of the courtroom at the Courthouse. He said that the robe felt “very heavy,” and that it comes with “tremendous responsibility.”
He said that Iowa judges don’t make decisions based on their own will or based on obligations to campaign contributors.
“I will do my best to impartially administer justice according to the law equally to the rich and the poor,” Murphy said. “Fortunately, in doing so, I can follow the examples of Iowa judges, Iowa Supreme Court Justices, Iowa Court of Appeals judges who have come before me, and so I’m in good shape, I think.”
Hulse spoke about Murphy before administering the oath, taking a chance to remember his experiences observing Murphy work as an attorney. He remarked about how when one becomes a judge, their role changes overnight from advocating on behalf of a client to being the “ultimate decision maker” in cases.
“I have had the opportunity to observe Judge Murphy both in and out of the courtroom and I can say without reservation that his knowledge, his skills, military experience, temperament and work ethic make him ready meet these challenges,” Hulse said. “And I believe he is particularly well suited to be a district court judge.”