In rapid succession, two attorneys from the office of Dallas County Attorney Chuck Sinnard have been raised to judgeships in the Fifth Judicial District, a testament to the prosecutorial prowess of the county’s legal team but one that also puts a strain on Sinnard’s staff resources.
Stacy L. Ritchie of Adel was appointed Sept. 2 as a district court judge in Judicial Election District 5A. Ritchie earned her law degree from the Drake University Law School and served as an assistant Dallas County attorney since 2001.
Iowa City native Erica W. Crisp was this week appointed a district associate judge in Judicial Election District 5A. Clark was a 2008 graduate of the University of Iowa Law School. She worked in the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s office from 2009 until moving to the Dallas County Attorney’s office in 2012.
“The appointment of both Judge Crisp and Judge Ritchie will be a tremendous loss to our office, but it will be a benefit to the people of Dallas County and the Fifth Judicial District,” Sinnard said. “Both Erica and Stacy have been tremendous advocates for justice. It was never about wins or losses for either of them. It has always been about striving to do the right thing for all of the parties involved in the justice system.”
Ritchie fills the vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of District Court Judge Richard B. Clogg, who was appointed as a district associate judge in 2000 and served on the district bench since 2012.
Crisp’s appointment as district associate judge follows the creation of the associate judgeship as a consequence of the population growth of Dallas County. The new position mirrors the current juvenile justice position that District Associate Judge Virginia Cobb fills and will cover cases in Dallas, Guthrie and Madison counties.
In the last two years, the numbers in Sinnard’s office were reduced by the sudden death of Assistant Dallas County Attorney Sean Wieser and the retirement of former Dallas County Attorney Wayne Reisetter, and the prospect of a further loss is in view with the impending retirement of First Assistant County Attorney Jeannine R. Gilmore. The elevation of Ritchie and Crisp will mean overtime for the remaining six county attorneys.
“While we will fill their positions with new attorneys, we will never replace what each of them brought to the job,” Sinnard said. “I will not only being losing some of the best attorneys I have had the privilege to work with, but I will be losing some of my best friends.”
Iowa’s Fifth Judicial District includes Dallas, Guthrie, Jasper, Madison, Marion and Warren counties. The district is served by 27 district court judges, 21 district associate judges, eight senior judges and 22 magistrates.