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Newscast 01.22.24: Third District Judge Robert Tiefenthaler tells crowd at MLK Day event about growing up biracial in small town Iowa

Iowa Third Judicial District Judge Robert Tiefenthaler speaking at the MLK Day event, Sunday, January 21st, 2024

The first black justice in Iowa’s Third Judicial District addressed a large crowd at Sunday night’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday celebration. Judge Robert Tiefenthaler headlined the event at Sioux City’s First Congregational United Church of Christ.
He was appointed to the bench last year. Tiefenthaler spoke about growing up as a biracial child raised by white adoptive parents in the small community of Breda, Iowa. Tiefenthaler said his classmates taunted him with racial epithets.

“The problem was some of the names they were calling me were unfortunately variations of the N-word. And I didn’t know what those meant. It wasn’t the straight-out N-word, it was variations on it. And when they would call that to me after a while, I started answering to it, because you know what, I didn’t know any better.”

Tiefenthaler said he considered suicide, but decided he needed to protect the friends that depended on him.

“And I made a vow to myself at that time, that I was never going to let anybody get treated the way that I got treated.”

Sunday night’s MLK Jr. Day celebration featured several vocal and instrumental performances and speakers such as Monique Scarlett of Unity in the Community, Sioux City Community School Board member Treyla Lee, and the president of the Sioux City chapter of the NAACP Ike Rayford.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted her proposals for helping pregnant women at an anti-abortion prayer rally today Monday.

Last summer, Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat law that bans most abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. It’s held up in the courts and hasn’t been enforced. Reynolds says she she’ll never back down from banning abortion.

In the meantime, she’s asking lawmakers to extend Medicaid health insurance for mothers to a year after giving birth instead of the current 60 days. But Reynolds would also tighten income requirements for pregnant women to qualify for Medicaid.

Reynolds says that’s why she’s also proposing a state-run network to connect people in need, including pregnant women, to nonprofits that can help.

Governor Reynolds and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem have signed on to a letter from Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen to President Joe Biden.

The letter addresses what Pillen calls an “unrealistic, costly and expensive” EV mandate requiring that two-thirds of all new vehicles be battery electric by 2032.

Gov. Pillen was joined by 16 other Republican governors in urging the President Biden to allow consumers and the marketplace to guide growth for electric vehicles.

The letter cites as problems the cost, the infrastructure required for using the vehicles, and that the battery content requirements are untenable for today’s car buyers.


A federal judge has denied a motion by Kim Taylor to throw out her election fraud conviction. Taylor is the wife of Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor. Taylor was convicted on more than 50 counts of election fraud. The government alleged she urged Vietnamese parents into voting on behalf of family members or otherwise voting illegally. Jeremy Taylor was not charged in the case.

In his ruling, chief judge Leonard Strand for the Northern District of the Iowa Western Division said he would not overrule the jury’s verdict in November.

Strand said Taylor must have known that “false information in registering or voting,” “fraudulent registration” and/or “fraudulent voting” offenses (as defined in the Court’s jury instructions) were being committed or going to be committed.”

No sentencing date has been set.

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