Court system hurting after budget cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Court system hurting after budget cuts

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Wednesday morning Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus echoed the frustration of many regarding the current financial state of Iowa's justice system.

"Right now we can't maintain any more workload than what we're doing," Johnson County Clerk Lodema Berkley said.

Budget cuts have been taking their toll on state workers at the Johnson County Courthouse for quite some time, even before Governor Chet Culver's across-the-board ten percent slash.

"We're having to take and reschedule things because we don't' have the time or the justice to be able to hear the cases," Berkley said.

Berkley says she and her 25 employees are expecting to be significantly backlogged in work in the coming months.

Her department, like many across the state, is required to take a monthly furlough.

The County Clerk's office hours have also been shortened by four hours each week for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The result...

"It is really denying access to the court to a certain number of people who come in when they can to seek justice for whatever it is," said Janet Lyness, Johnson County attorney.

In her address Wednesday, Chief Justice Ternus says courts across the state have been forced more so than ever to prioritize.

Because of limited resources a divorce settlement may take significantly longer to go to court than say a domestic abuse issue.

Lyness says she believes lawmakers will take Ternus' suggestion to heart.

I think they do recognize the importance of a court system that is open and available to the public as really being a fundamental issue in our country and certainly in the state of Iowa," said Lyness.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner

 

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