The Honorable Judge Mark W. Bennett Biography

Mark W. Bennett was appointed a United States District Court Judge in the Northern District of Iowa on August 26, 1994. On January 1, 2000, he became Chief Judge of the Northern District and served in this capacity for seven years. Judge Bennett had previously served, from December 2, 1991, as a United States Magistrate Judge in the sister district, the Southern District of Iowa. Judge Bennett graduated from the Drake University Law School in 1975. Upon graduation, he started his own law firm in Des Moines, in the basement of a long since demolished building, with his two legal mentors, Gordy Allen and Les Babich. The firm was originally known as Allen, Babich & Bennett and eventually became Babich, Bennett & Nickerson. During more than sixteen years, his extensive practice in employment discrimination, constitutional law and other civil rights litigation took him to numerous state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout the United States resulting in more than seventy reported decisions, including arguing Evans v. Oscar Mayer Co., 441 U.S. 750 (1979), in the United States Supreme Court.

When he was in private practice, Judge Bennett was admitted to and practiced in the United States Supreme Court; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Circuits; the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa; and the Iowa Supreme Court and state courts of Iowa. He was also admitted, pro hac vice, in numerous jurisdictions, including the United States District Courts for the District of Arizona, District of Colorado, Southern District of California, Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana, District of Minnesota, Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri, District of New Mexico, Northern District of New York, and District of Wyoming; and state courts of Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Judge Bennett was actively involved in professional organizations and community service. This included serving as the first Chair of the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 Advisory Group for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, as a member of the Board of Governors of the Association of Trial Lawyers of Iowa, as a Fellow in the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers and as a Master of the Bench and founding member of the Blackstone Inn of Court.

He has been active in the Iowa State Bar Association, where he has served as a member of and co-chaired several committees, including the Federal Practice Committee, the Professional Development Committee, the Committee on Professionalism, the Labor and Employment Law Section Council, the Litigation Section, the Committee on Legal Aid, the Study Committee on Women and Minorities Involvement in Bar Association and Judicial System of Iowa, the Executive Council of the Young Lawyers Section, the Silent Partner Program Committee of the Young Lawyers Section, the Committee on Federal Practice Manual and the Committee on the State Adoption of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Prior to becoming a federal judge, Judge Bennett was selected for inclusion in Naifeh & Smith, The Best Lawyers in America. He was the youngest lawyer in the state to receive an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell and to be inducted as a Fellow in the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Judge Bennett is often invited to speak at seminars throughout the United States for the bench and the bar on topics such as federal litigation, civil rights, employment law, professionalism, and courtroom technology. He has spoken at more than 280 seminars and CLE programs across North America. He has also enjoyed teaching law students at the Drake University Law School (trial advocacy, employment law and employment discrimination), the University of Iowa College of Law (trial advocacy), and the University of Nebraska College of Law (employment discrimination).

Judge Bennett has a keen interest in technology which led him to complete a project for the United States Courts where he was instrumental in the design, development, testing and implementation of new case management software based on state of the art WEB browser technology. He has applied technology to judging, which has led to the remodeling of the main historic courtroom in Sioux City, to add state of the art technology. Judge Bennett has tried hundreds of cases in his high-tech courtroom over nearly a decade. Judge Bennett has also consulted with other federal courts and two law schools on courtroom technology.

Judge Bennett is a prolific writer and his numerous published opinions reflect his keen interest in legal scholarship. He has co-authored a book entitled, Employment Relationships Law & Practice (Aspen Law & Business 1998) and he has also published recent articles on “high tech courtrooms” and “the vanishing civil jury trial.”