The Ottumwa Courier

July 27, 2013

Good news

By Chief Judge Mary Ann Brown
Ottumwa Courier

---- — By Chief Judge Mary Ann Brown

The Iowa Judicial Branch dedicates itself to providing independent and accessible forums for the fair and prompt resolution of disputes, administering justice under law equally to all people. — Iowa Judicial Branch Mission Statement

The Iowa courts play a vital role in protecting children and adults, ensuring peaceful resolution of legal disputes and maintaining the quality of our lives as Iowans. The courts’ work is full time with a full plate of cases — be they juvenile, criminal, civil, mental or any of the others implicated by the complex lives people lead. Communities rely on a ready access to justice, and those of us in the judiciary consider it a priority to make sure that people get it.

Over the past several years, the courts’ mission has been impaired because of budget cuts due to revenue shortfalls. Today’s healthier economy enabled the Iowa Legislature and governor this year to provide the judicial branch with better funding, which in turn empowers us to better serve the public and fulfill our constitutional role.

With the fiscal year 2014 appropriation to the judicial branch, the 8th Judicial District will see staffing restored to levels before the 2009 cuts. This summer, we can resume having the clerks of court in each county open for public business all day long, all week long. We will have people back to allow the phones to be answered and customers tended all day. We are also able to re-staff jury attendants and others helping us prevent court delay in cases. We will be much better equipped to put the “justice delayed is justice denied” days behind us. This is good news for the many who have business with the courts.

I am proud of our judicial branch employees and commend them for their resilience and commitment to excellence even as our resources to produce it withered. With our new means, we strive to be the good stewards people have a right to expect. We plan to deliver on our promise of accessible forums for fair and prompt resolution of disputes. It’s a day of good news.

Chief Judge Brown lives in Burlington and has been a district-court judge for 12 years. In her capacity as chief judge, she supervises the operations of the 14-county 8th Judicial District. She may be reached at maryann.brown@iowacourts.gov.