Judge David May, who describes himself as a “regular person” who received “extraordinary blessings,” has risen to the pinnacle of the Iowa judicial system with his appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court July 27 by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Judge May’s self description can be found in his application to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, who advanced his nomination to the governor after interviews with all five applicants for the opening created by the retirement of Justice Brent Appel.

A native of what he describes as a medium-size town in northeast Missouri, Judge May came to Iowa where he graduated with high honors from Drake Law School and worked in private practice for the Hawkins & Norris law firm and later for Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave before becoming a trial judge in Polk County in 2016. Judge May was appointed by Governor Reynolds to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2019.

In his 15 years at the Bradshaw firm, Judge May focused largely on civil litigation and insurance coverage work, including claims involving suspected arson and fraud.

In response to a question on the judicial application about significant legal matters he worked on, Judge May listed two cases involving insurance issues. A third case he cited was tried in federal court, initially brought by an inmate at the Fort Madison State Penitentiary representing himself before May was appointed pro bono counsel for the plaintiff. The inmate alleged his constitutional rights were violated by prison staff.

Although U.S. District Judge James Gritzner ultimately ruled against his client, Judge May said the experience changed his perspective on the corrections system.

“It opened my eyes to challenges faced by both by corrections staff and by prisoners,” he wrote. “It also reinforced the importance of our judicial system as a safeguard against violation of constitutional rights.”

Judge May, who lives in Polk City, is married with two young-adult children.