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Local News

July 18, 2012

Supreme court justice visits Appanoose County

CENTERVILLE — The meet and greet for Iowa Supreme Court Justice Thomas Waterman Tuesday morning in the third floor courtroom in the Appanoose County Courthouse was attended by county employees, lawyers and others in the legal profession, judges, members of the general public and the mayor of Centerville.

Waterman is visiting all the courthouses in District 8 on what he called a "listening tour."

"And I've really enjoyed visiting these such beautiful courthouses," Waterman said.

District 8 includes Appanoose, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Mahaska, Monroe, Poweshiek, Van Buren, Wapello and Washington counties.

Waterman talked about the effect underfunding and understaffing has had on the state's judicial system.

In Appanoose County, the Clerk of Court's office used to have six employees, but now it's down to three, he said.

"We need full court funding," he said.

Waterman said he opposes the concept of regionalization. He said you should be able to try a case in your own county and not have to travel to a regionalized courthouse.

"I think regionalization is dead," he said.

What isn't dead is the use of the Iowa Communication Network in judicial proceedings.

Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson said they used ICN for a sentencing and it saved his office thousands of dollars.

Waterman said using ICN saves money and its use will probably increase.

Waterman talked about the recent Supreme Court Justice retention vote held in November of 2010 where three justices were not retained.

"I respect the voters right to vote," he said. "It's part of our checks and balances."

Waterman was appointed in 2011 to fill one of the vacancies and is up for retention vote this November.

He said the Supreme Court cannot decide cases on what's popular or because justices want to keep their jobs. He said he has confidence in what the court does, calling it a "good process" as their rulings are going into the law books.

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