Judicial Evaluations

Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger

  • Ebinger has scored above average, bordering on exceptional in every category
  • Knowledge and application of the law – 4.28
  • Perception of factual issues – 4.32
  • Punctuality of court proceedings – 4.56
  • Attentiveness to arguments and testimony – 4.50
  • Management and control of courtroom – 4.43
  • Temperament and demeanor – 4.30
  • Clarity and quality of written opinions – 4.37
  • Promptness of rulings and decisions – 4.30
    • Pleasantly surprised that both her scores for control of the courtroom and her temperament were high as I would expect that gender stereotypes would lead people to rank a woman who is in control as having a “worse” temperament.
  • Despite her high scores in all categories, she has the second-lowest retention percentage at 87%. The only one lower is 84%
  • Was nominated by President Obama to be a federal district court judge and was confirmed in February of 2016


Bar Association Media Guide

Civil Cases

Five types of civil cases are lawsuits for money damages, divorce, “probate, including guardianships and conservatorships, and estates following death”, “involuntary commitment proceedings, both for mental impairment and substance abuse”, and adoptions.

Lawsuits for claims under $5,000 do not require the parties to hire a lawyer. Under Iowa law, plaintiffs cannot seek a specific dollar amount in damages in anything other than small claims court. Non small claims cases may request a trial by jury. Only 8 jurors in civil trial, rather than 12 for a criminal trial, and only 7 of the 8 must agree on a verdict, rather than in criminal cases where verdict must be unanimous.

Different standard of proof in civil cases. Must prove by a preponderance of evidence, or convince a jury or judge to be mostly sure of the guilt of the other party. Criminal cases must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Two types of damages:

  • Compensatory – “specifically calculated to compensate the plaintiff for loss caused by the defendant”
    • reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress
  • Punitive – “designed to punish the defendant in the hopes that this type of behavior will not occur again in the future”

Probate – “general category for administering the person and/or property of an individual who cannot take care of those matters him/herself, either through death or disability”

Guardianship is when someone becomes the guardian of a person, conservatorships is when someone becomes guardian of their finances and assets.