The Ottumwa Courier

April 25, 2013

Spring brings magistrate commissions

By JUDGE MARY ANN BROWN
Ottumwa Courier

---- — Hopefully, spring color will soon be here. It seems like it’s been a long time coming. This spring also brings with it the process associated with selecting judicial magistrates.

Local commissions have begun the process of taking applications, interviewing candidates and appointing judicial magistrates. Iowa has a unified court system with various categories of judicial officers. Magistrates are the judicial officers that the majority of people having court cases in Iowa see. This is because they handle the types of cases that most people may find themselves involved in, such as traffic tickets, simple misdemeanor crimes, small claims, initial appearances for all criminal cases and mental-health and substance-related involuntary commitments.

Magistrates serve four-year terms, and all of our current magistrates’ terms expire July 31. Commissions will be meeting in May to consider those applying to be appointed or re-appointed. A district court judge chairs each commission, which is made up of members of the public appointed by the local county board of supervisors and attorneys elected by the local bar association. All newly appointed magistrates must be attorneys and less than 72 years of age at the time of appointment. In addition, an applicant must be a resident of the county of application or a resident of a contiguous county. Since nine counties in Judicial District 8-A have a magistrate office, appointment proceedings are underway in Appanoose, Davis, Jefferson, Mahaska, Monroe, Poweshiek, Van Buren, Wapello and Washington counties.

The local clerk of court coordinates the application process as well as the meeting of the commission. To learn who has applied to be a magistrate, you may contact the local clerk’s office. If you have information or observations that you would like to offer about any of the applicants, please forward that information to the clerk of court. Input from the public in this merit-selection process is welcomed.

Chief Judge Brown serves Iowa Judicial District 8-B as a traveling trial judge in addition to her duties as the chief judge of the entire 8th Judicial District. During her 11 years on the bench, she has been called upon to preside in District 8-A trials working on special assignment in Jefferson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Van Buren and Washington counties. She may be reached at maryann.brown@iowacourts.gov.