Mark W. Bennett
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa
Mark W. Bennett is in his 24th year as a U.S. district judge in the N.D. of Iowa. He was in private practice in Des Moines, Iowa, from 1975 to 1991, having started his own law firm upon graduation from the Drake University Law School in 1975. For sixteen and a half years, he practiced primarily as a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer appearing in more than 30 federal district courts, several of the courts of appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He argued his first case in the Supreme Court less than four years out of law school. He had three more cert. petitions granted before he was 32. He has taught at both law schools in Iowa, the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, and the University of Nebraska College of Law. In the past eight years, he has authored 24 law review articles, including four on implicit bias in the legal profession and five on federal sentencing issues. He has been involved in educating more than 2500 state and federal trial and appellate judges on implicit bias from Alaska to Florida, and Maine to California. He was the first trial judge in the nation to both instruct and discuss implicit bias with jurors. He has authored numerous other articles, most often about judging and trial lawyers, is the co-author of a treatise on employment law, and has spoken at more than 500 CLE programs in 39 states and several foreign countries. He has sentenced more than 4000 defendants in four districts, and tried jury trials in six districts as a judge. He has consistently in judicial opinions and other writings and speeches opposed mandatory minimums and the harshness of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. He is featured in the BBC documentary, “The House I Live In” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He was also featured for his opposition to mandatory minimums in a profile on the front page of the Washington Post in 2015.