A plan to consolidate clerk-of-court offices in Iowa counties may be shelved for now, but officials of 41 counties are so certain it will come up again, they attended a recent meeting in Clarion to discuss it. Lawyer Phil Garland is president of the Hancock County bar association.There are eight judicial districts now, and pressure to cut those to five, as well as have a clerk of court in, say, Hancock County also serve Winnebago and Worth counties. Garland says consolidating districts is touted as a money-saving measure.His area’s district would include everything from Cerro Gordo to Woodbury County, a lot of courthouses, judges and people to manage. Clarion attorney Dave Johnson says saving money was the stated goal of the original plan, now withdrawn, to close or curtail hours at some clerk of court offices. It would have meant a loss of court services, but also the clerks would move away and then the courthouse would close, a big loss for economic development in county-seat towns. And Attorney Johnson questions whether firing county clerks would save — or cost — money:He thinks county clerks generate more money than they cost, and for example says the clerk in Wright County collects fines, court costs and other money totaling 300-thousand dollars, and operating the office only cost 160-thousand. Johnson says one answer might be putting clerks back under the jurisdiction of local counties instead of the state judiciary. This (Wednesday) morning at ten, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Louis Lavorato delivers the annual State-of-the-Judiciary message before the legislative assembly.
You are here: / / Plan to cut Clerks of Court still getting discussion