The Ottumwa Courier


May 11, 2013

We never really graduate

It’s May, and the graduation announcements are rolling in. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate the educational achievements of those who are graduating from various schools. It did not take me long, however, to realize that learning does not end with graduation. We never really graduate out of education mode because the learning process is lifelong.

Judges, as all lawyers, must receive at least 15 hours of continuing legal education each year. In Iowa that generally consists of formal classroom training with written materials, lectures, and interactive discussions. Course work differs based upon particularized professional demands. For example, most Iowa judges attend an intensive two-week “General Jurisdiction” course at the National Judicial College within their first two years on the bench (To my surprise, bells ring and attendance is taken for each class). Evolving needs also drive legal training. For instance, as we move toward a paperless court system, judges and lawyers alike are being schooled on such topics as E-Discovery.

Judges and lawyers must be daily learners, too, making their group classes just one part of ongoing legal education. The Legislature annually passes new laws and amends existing ones. The Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals issue rulings regularly. In April alone, 136 appellate opinions were released, with most ranging from five to 25 pages in length; one was 117 pages long! It is important to keep up on all these developments in the law — the Legislature’s crafting of the law, as well as the appellate courts’ interpretation and application of that law. Obviously, we all do a lot of reading.

By the way, learning about how society’s disputes are resolved through interpretation and application of the law is something that interests everybody. Anyone may easily access Iowa’s appellate court rulings in these times of electronic empowerment. So, if you are curious and want to learn about the rulings of Iowa’s appellate courts, visit and click on “Supreme Court” or “Court of Appeals.” The “Most Recent Opinions” link takes you to the last batch of opinions issued. Much goes on in the Iowa court system, and there is a lot of reading there to orient you to some of the latest. I guarantee that you will learn something.

Judge Gookin is a trial judge serving the 10 counties of Iowa District 8-A. He graduated from Fairfield High School in 1976, Iowa State University in 1980 and the Drake Law School in 1983. He may be reached at

Text Only
  • Make Ottumwa Shine offers opportunity We hear a lot of complaints about the condition of our town. Some are justified, others are the kind of carping that happens in any community. But this month shows the difference between those who just want to complain and people who are genuinely in

    May 2, 2014

  • Investing more money in tornado research would be a disaster

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding to focus on improving forecasts of "high impact weather events" like tornadoes and hurricanes "for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

    April 4, 2014

  • 1120 OTT Opinion Reiter bw photo -L A running Start The Great American Smokeout is tomorrow. The American Cancer Society has chosen the third Thursday in November for this annual event to encourage smokers to quit. There are still an estimated 43.8 million cigarette smokers in the U.S. and several mil

    November 19, 2013 1 Photo

  • No Headline Provided

    October 25, 2013

  • Be aware of prostate cancer I am very pleased to see the coverage and interest in breast cancer with October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are about 220,000 new cases of breast cancer reported every year, and it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths

    October 4, 2013

  • Our View Election a chance to move Ottumwa forward Over the past several days, the Courier sat down with each of the candidates for City Council. Among the candidates are some of the best people we've seen step forward in a very long time. We'll endorse candidates for the general election. What we wa

    October 4, 2013

  • Broadband Internet just the beginning I had the opportunity to meet the broadband delegation from Ottumwa who recently toured Steuben County, Ind. As one of the iMAN Fiber Network team members, I can assure you this was an incredible experience for both of our groups. First, as I've lear

    September 14, 2013

  • Request free utility locates using Iowa One Call technology Iowa homeowners who need to dig on their property have free access to an updated technology tool, iTic Lite, available from Iowa One Call, the organization tasked with promoting the message "Call before you dig in Iowa." For their own safety and that

    September 10, 2013

  • Tell us your survivor story The world is filled with stories. Some make front-page news while others get hidden and are never told. Stories of people who overcome obstacles should have a place to make their voices heard. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Courier

    September 6, 2013

  • School board voting will be a little easier Tuesday The League of Women Voters would like to encourage a greater participation by voters in the upcoming election of school board members. It is encouraging to see a larger number of citizens campaigning to serve their community on the school board. I

    September 6, 2013

AP National