Representative Dan Johnston View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 10/21/2016
Birth Place: Montezuma
Birth County: Poweshiek
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Assemblies Served:
House: 62 (1967)
Home County: Polk
Dan Johnston
Polk County


Dan Johnston was born April 6, 1938 in Montezuma, Iowa. He received his bachelor’s degree from Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa and his Law Degree from Drake University in Des Moines.

Even before becoming a lawyer, he began working to set up the pretrial release project in Polk County. After receiving his degree he immediately began practicing law and working with the ACLU. At the age of 30, he had successfully argued the landmark U.S. Supreme Court free speech case, “Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District” which established free speech rights for students in public schools. He also argued and then it was established that Iowa’s Congressional districts may not be gerrymandered.

He served as the Polk County Attorney from 1977 to 1985. He moved to New York in 1985 where he lived until 2012. Serving on the board of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the New York Police Compliant review board. He spent time in Washington D.C. working on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

He came back to Iowa in 2012 and continued to practice law where he succeeded in bringing important reforms to Iowa’s outdated HIV laws.

Dan was a Democrat from Polk County. He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in the fall of 1966 serving one term. During his time he served on the following committees: Board of Control, Cities and Towns, Judiciary and Law Enforcement.

Representative Johnston passed away on October 21, 2016 at the age of 78.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE EIGHTY-SEVENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF IOWA, That in the passing of the Honorable Dan Johnston, the State has lost an honored citizen and a faithful and useful public servant, and the House by this Resolution would express its appreciation of his service.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be spread upon the Journal of the House, and that the Chief Clerk be directed to forward an enrolled copy to the family of the deceased.