Below is the text of a press release issued by the Iowa Supreme Court today:
Today, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a Supervisory Order requiring all court offices, including clerk of district court offices and the office of the clerk of the supreme court, to be closed for seven days before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. The move is in anticipation of a $3.8 million reduction in the FY 09 Iowa Judicial Branch operating budget. The closures are in addition to the February 16, 2009, closure required in an earlier supervisory order.
With the order, all court staff will take unpaid leave March 20, April 10, April 24, May 8, May 22, June 5 and June 19, 2009. One day of unpaid leave for all judicial employees except judges and magistrates (1,600 people) reduces expenditures by $335,009. Judges and magistrates are not subject to the unpaid leave order because the legislature sets their salaries and the supreme court lacks the statutory authority to change these salaries. On days the court offices are closed, judges and magistrates will work in their chambers to maintain a minimal level of access to the courts.
The order also reduces the public hours of all offices of the clerk of district court. Clerks’ offices will be closed to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to closing
“While this change in our customary public business hours is an unwelcome reduction in public access to the courts, it is necessary to help minimize other problems that will result from court closure days,” State Court Administrator David Boyd said. “By providing the clerk of district court offices with some uninterrupted work time each week, we hope to maintain productivity and thereby minimize delays in case processing.”
Additionally, the supreme court canceled its April 28-30 oral arguments to save travel expenses. The supreme court justices will remain in their home counties and consider only cases submitted without oral arguments. The court of appeals will also modify its April oral argument schedule. A panel of judges residing in the Des Moines area will hear oral arguments in the Judicial Branch Building and a second panel of judges living in Northwest Iowa will hear cases in the Dickenson County Courthouse in Spirit Lake. A third panel of judges will remain in their home counties and consider only cases submitted without oral argument.
Today’s order clarifies the earlier supervisory order reducing judge and court reporter travel expenses and gives chief judges the flexibility to assign a judge to preside over a trial outside the official domicile when the compelling interest of justice requires it or when the trial is held in a county where the judge resides.
In addition, to further reduce expenses, the judicial branch will no longer post videos on its website, including supreme court oral arguments. For more information, go to, www.iowacourts.gov.