The state court administrator says it may be time to more actively encourage people to apply to be a justice on the Iowa Supreme Court. Applications soon will be accepted from those seeking to fill the jobs of the three justices ousted in this month’s election.

Administrator David Boyd says the Judicial Nominating Commission normally receives up to 20 applications for a vacancy, but the state is in uncharted waters with three openings to fill on the court. “It may be something that lots of people that are in the judicial branch, you know — even the commission itself — do things to try to encourage people to apply,” Boyd says.

The Judicial Nominating Commission must forward the names of three nominees to the governor, and the governor then chooses one of the three to serve on the court. Boyd says even if commission members were to actively recruit potential candidates, the decision ultimately is up to the governor.

“But these are people who know the legal community in Iowa,” Boyd says of the Judicial Nominating Commission. “They’re lay people as well as lawyers and they can suggest to someone along the way that they should at least think about applying.” Boyd wonders if fewer people will apply to serve on the Supreme Court since it’s clear now that justices can be voted off the bench.

The new justices appointed to fill the three vacancies would face their first retention vote in 2012. The Iowa State Bar Association organized a conference call Thursday as a tutorial for lawyers who may be interested in applying to be a judge in Iowa.