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Iowa Judicial Branch announces workforce reductions


The Iowa Supreme Court on Thursday announced another round of cost cutting for the state’s court system, the second since January. The latest spending reductions, which total $5.4 million, are necessary to balance the Iowa Judicial Branch budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1, Chief Justice Marsha Ternus said in a press release.

“We must operate within the limits of our appropriation from the legislature,” Ternus said.” As stewards of public funds, the Supreme Court is resolved to do everything in its power to reduce our operating expenses. However, as the leaders of Iowa’s justice system we are deeply concerned about the impact continuing cuts will have on our ability to deliver quality court services to the public. Because of the effects of the nation’s economic downturn, people need court services now more than ever.”

The bulk of the cuts, nearly $4.8 million, come in the form of a statewide work force reduction. The court also cut approximately $635,000 in non-personnel expenses. Unlike the round of cuts earlier this year, the latest cuts do not include unpaid leave, judicial travel restrictions and court closures.

The Judicial Branch will reduce its workforce primarily through the use of vacancies. It will eliminate or hold open nearly 50 vacant staff positions at all levels of the court system, to include holding open judicial vacancies. The Supreme Court will make exceptions for judicial positions assigned to juvenile court and judicial positions that a judicial district can show a compelling need to fill. In addition, the Judicial Branch will lay off about 15 members of its staff, including 13 court reporters.

The court reporter work force will be cut by 10 percent this year and court reporters will be pooled, State Court Administrator David Boyd said.

“This will be a big change for our judges,” he said. “Even so, I am confident that we can effectively cover all of the trial courts’ reporting needs by pooling court reporters. Pooling is much more cost effective than our traditional practice of assigning one court reporter to one judge. It will reduce court reporter downtime and save taxpayers nearly $1.5 million.”

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