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FY 2019 Budget

"Iowa’s court system is at its best when your support allows us to provide the level of services needed to best serve Iowans."
Chief Justice Mark Cady
2018 State of the Judiciary

The Iowa Judicial Branch performs an unduplicated and vital constitutional mission: to administer justice according to law equally to all people. Funding for the services provided by the judicial branch is appropriated by the legislature and approved by the governor. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, the legislature appropriated and the governor approved $177, 574, 797.  This amount is $3.5 million more than the FY 18 judicial branch appropriation after the $1.6 million de-appropriation.  Put another way, the FY 19 judicial branch operating budget is $1.9 million more than the original FY 18 appropriation. 

In making its budget decisions the supreme court reaffirmed its commitment to the six priorities of the judicial branch.  The court prioritized keeping court services available to Iowans in all 99 counties as well as protecting children and public safety through the efforts of juvenile court services.  In FY 19, the judicial branch will be able to fill approximately 75 of the 135 vacancies that are currently being held open.  District court judge positions will be held open for 60 days instead of the current 12 month average.  The moratorium on the establishment of new specialty courts will continue. 

In order to minimize disruption of services with the large number of vacant positions, it is very important to retain experienced employees and judges.  The remaining judicial branch employees are taking up the extra work created by vacant positions at all levels of the judicial branch.  The judicial branch will increase employee salaries by 1% across the board and provide a 2% step increase for all non-contract and AFSCME contract covered employees not at the top of their pay grade.  Steps for PPME contract covered employees not at the top of their pay grade are 1.75%.  Unfortunately, judges and magistrates will not receive any salary increase this year because the legislature did not authorize a salary increase or allow the judicial branch to increase judicial officer salaries. Last year 21 of the 116 district court and 75 district associate court judges left  the bench. 

The Iowa Judicial Branch will continue to maximize efficiencies and technology to provide critical and unduplicated services to Iowans.  We are grateful to the legislature for their separate appropriation of $3 million that will allow us to begin improving our redundancy and recoverability infrastructure and increase our cyber security capabilities. 

Iowa Judicial Branch Budget Questions and Answers

How Much Money did the Iowa Judicial Branch Collect in 2017?

Each year, with the aid of several state and local government entities, Iowa courts collect millions of dollars in fines and fees that directly benefit state and local government. In fiscal year 2017, the $146.3 million Iowa's courts collected was distributed as follows:

What was the Iowa Judicial Branch's Return on Investment?

In FY 18, $175,7 million was appropriated to the judicial branch for its operating budget.  The estimated annual return on investment is approximately $181.5 million. The chart below details some of the estimates on specific programs involving the work of the judicial branch.

What Percentage of the Iowa Judicial Branch Budget is Personnel?

How Many Counties Share Clerks of Court?

The Iowa Judicial Branch employs 55 Clerks of District Court who oversee the operations of the clerk’s offices in each of Iowa’s county courthouses. Twenty-four clerks of court oversee a single county and 31 oversee multiple counties.

How Many Counties Have Three or Fewer Clerk of Court Staff?

Fifty-eight Iowa counties have three or fewer clerks staff and 34 counties have two or fewer.

Where are the Current Vacancies in the Iowa Judicial Branch?

Iowa Judicial Branch Vacancies (April 20, 2018)

How Many Cases Were Filed in Iowa District Courts Last Year?

Most cases filed with the Iowa courts do not make headlines, but each one is critically important to the Iowans involved.  In addition to the familiar criminal cases and civil legal disputes, there are families in crisis, victims seeking protection, abused and neglected children, and troubled youths, all turning to the courts for help during desperate times of need.

How Many Documents were Filed and Stored Electronically as the Official Court Record?    

More than 20 million documents are filed and stored electronically as the official court record, requiring more than 4.4 terabytes of storage space.

EDMS gives more and more court users, including law enforcement officers, the Department of  Human Services, and hospitals—to name a few—secure, prompt, and easy access to judges, court  records, and the court system. Iowa is a national leader and a model of efficiency with the first mandatory electronic filing system, which can also accept paper filings when necessary, in the nation. To date, more than 130,000 people are registered to file electronically.

 What Are the Six Priorities of the Iowa Judicial Branch?

The six priorities for the judicial branch shaped from what Iowans have said they expect and need from their courts.   

  1. Protect Iowa's Children.  If the judicial branch is going to accomplish any lasting good in Iowans' lives, the branch must begin by bringing lasting good to the lives of our children in need. 
  2. Provide Full-Time Access to Justice.  Whether it is children in need, an Iowan, an Iowa Business, or friends and neighbors who must at some time count on access to court services, it is clear that Iowans expect their government to operate a full-time, full-service, and efficient court system. 
  3. Operate an Efficient, Full-Service Court System.  The Iowa Judicial Branch must continuously work to improve access to the courts and make operations more efficient by taking advantage of all innovative and effective processes available. 
  4. Provide Faster and Less Costly Resolution of Legal Disputes.  Iowans expect and deserve timely resolution of their legal disputes. The old axiom "justice delayed is justice denied" is more and more true in this increasingly fast-paced world.  
  5. Be Open and Transparent.  The strength of democracy requires well-informed citizens. The strength and effectiveness of our court system depends on public confidence in the courts.  
  6. Provide Fair and Impartial Justice for All.  Iowa judges make decisions based on the facts of a case and the rule of law, not on their personal beliefs or popular opinion. Allegiance to the law is the very core of the judicial system, embodied in the oath as judges and the rules of ethics, and it is a pledge to all Iowans.

State Court Administration Memos to Court Employees

State Court Administrator FY 19 Budget Message (April 18, 2018)

State Court Administrator FY 19 Budget Message (May 1, 2018)

State Court Administrator FY 19 Budget Message (June 1, 2018)

Iowa Judicial Branch Appropriation 


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