Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner hired attorney Joseph L. Walsh to fill an open position as ALJ (Administrative Law Judge)/Deputy David Rasey recently retired. On January 17, 2014, Deputy Walsh begins his new position. Prior to becoming an ALJ, Mr. Walsh had worked as a private workers' compensation attorney in Des Moines, worked as the Deputy Director for Iowa Workforce from 2007 to 2010 and was the Chief Administrative Law Judge for the Division of Unemployment Insurance Appeals since 2010. Mr. Walsh graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa in 1993 and graduated from the law school there with Cum Laude Honors in 1996.
Because of another recent retirement announced by Deputy Helenjean Walleser, the hiring process will continue looking for another deputy commissioner position. It is expected that the second new judge will be announced in February. There are usually 11 Deputies who are the ones who listen to the witnesses, read the evidence and make the decisions in the cases. However, the numbers of Deputies changes depending upon the budget provided to the Iowa Workers' Compensation Agency. The fewer the deputies, the longer it takes to get a hearing and a decision which is called an arbitration decision. Statistically, about 50% of the cases decided by Deputies end up being appealed to the Commissioner who does a de novo review which means the Commissioner reads the hearing transcript, looks at the exhibits and makes an independent decision in the case. The Commissioner's decision can then be further appealed through what is called judicial review. Judicial review consists of a district court judge reviewing the case and if either party does not like the district court's decision, another appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.