Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 19, 2017

Supervisors discuss courtroom upgrade

By Linda Wenger | May 21, 2014

Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Mike Mullins told the Washington County Board of Supervisors that he and clerk of court Julie Johnson wanted to begin a conversation about making improvements on the second floor of the county courthouse.
The supervisors traveled up to the second floor during a work session Tuesday morning, where they met with Mullins and Johnson.
Mullins said that security concerns are a major reason for making improvements to the main courtroom and offices on the second floor.
In the main courtroom, Mullins suggested the judge’s bench be moved from the southeast corner to the north end of the courtroom. Should an emergency arise, the judge would have a second way to leave the courtroom through a doorway at the northeast corner of the room.
Mullins also briefly explained Iowa’s justice system because the second floor is used by the magistrate, district court, and the Iowa Court of Appeals. Smaller rooms on the second floor are often used to hold court at least once a week.
Technological changes are coming as well. The Iowa Courts are moving away from paper documents to electronic documents. By the end of 2015, all the records will be electronic. The same holds true for the law library. The bookshelves are no longer needed since that information is fully electronic.
The Clerk of Court office will not need walls of file cabinets once the changeover is complete. Persons wishing to see court documents will use a computer station. Johnson wants to reconfigure her office to reflect the changes.
When it comes to who pays for what, the county provides the physical space for the courts. The state pays for furniture, and items that are easily moved around.
Mullins asked the supervisors to tour other county offices that have recently renovated their court offices.
The supervisors said they would like to have some idea about how the space would need to change, along with cost estimates, because the county will need to budget for the changes.

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