There are staffing shortages in the Seventh Judicial District, according to District Chief Judge Marlita Greve.
Greve said the judicial system in Iowa is looking to get 31 additional judicial specialists across the state. She said the Seventh Judicial District, composed of Cedar, Clinton, Jackson, Muscatine and Scott counties, would most likely get three of the additional employees, who would serve as clerks, court attendants or court administration employees. She expects Clinton County would get one of the employees.
“They’ve been running short staffed for a long time,” Greve said. “We’ve just been basically putting out fires where we’ve needed to when we’ve gotten additional staff.”
Greve said the judicial specialists can work anywhere, although they are designated to work in court administration or the clerk’s office. She said the change to judicial specialist helped with the union contract due to certain levels of the position. Greve said everyone starts out as a judicial specialist two. They can work up to judicial specialist four. The next steps are to be promoted to trial court supervisor. The trial court supervisors are considered next in line for a clerk of court position.
Greve also cited an issue with a lack of judges across the state. Greve requested the supervisors discuss funding for the judicial branch with legislators.
“It does impact us,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Srp said. “It impacts our ability to process things in a timely manner, move people out of our jail, and if we have to keep people around longer than necessary, then that expense is borne by the county and the county’s budget.
“There’s other ripple effects,” Srp continued. “It certainly affects families and other people that are seeking to get issues resolved. And maybe the timeline on which they can do so. It might take longer than they’d care to have it take, or maybe what it should take, arguably, so I understand your point there.”
Greve said the Seventh Judicial District is also short on court reporters, adding there is a nationwide shortage of court reporters. She said they will be installing a digital audio recording system in juvenile courtrooms in Clinton, Muscatine and Scott counties.
“Right now, the statute only provides that juvenile things done in the juvenile court can be digitally recorded instead of using a live court reporter,” Greve said. “That’s the only place that we can put them, so we are getting one for each of those three counties associate court courtrooms. And we’ll use them when we need to.”
John Rohlf is a Clinton Herald staff writer.