Robert W. Pratt is a United States District Judge of the Southern District of Iowa. Judge Pratt was nominated on August 2, 1996, and again on January 7, 1997, by President Clinton. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 23, 1997 and entered on duty on July 1, 1997. He became the Chief Judge of the Southern District of Iowa on May 1, 2006. He became a Senior Judge on July 1st 2012. He received a B.A. degree in Political Science from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa and received a Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
Judge Pratt worked for the Polk County (Des Moines) Iowa Legal Aid Society from 1972 to 1975. He then practiced law privately with two law firms from January 1, 1975 until September 1, 1985, when he began his own practice which terminated upon his confirmation.
While in practice as a legal aid lawyer, he represented low income clients in consumer, housing and civil rights areas. While he continued to represent low income clients in his private practice he also represented labor unions, plaintiffs in personal injury claims, workers compensation claims, and Social Security disability claims. It is often said that he is the only lawyer to have left legal aid and gotten poorer clients. While in private practice, for a four year period he also tried cases as a criminal justice attorney (CJA) for persons accused of crimes. He has argued 25 cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and 10 cases before the Iowa appellate courts as well as trying approximately 40 cases to jury verdict. As a trial judge he has tried over 145 cases to verdict in the United States District Courts. He has also served by designation as an Appellate Judge on panels of the United States Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Ninth Circuits.
His interests as a judge include information technology, access to justice problems as well as reintegrating ex-offenders into mainstream society.