Civic News & Info
Proposed Amendments to Iowa Court Rules PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Iowa Judicial Branch   
Monday, 13 February 2012 14:23

This section of the site contains orders of statewide interest recently issued by the Iowa Supreme Court. Orders will be posted in this section for one year from the date they are first posted.

 

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Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rule of Appellate Procedure (February 10, 2012)

Order (244 kb)


Proposed New Rule (186 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure (December 2, 2011)

Order (575 kb)


Proposed New Rule (479 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rules of Juvenile Procedures (November 23, 2011)

Order (103 kb)


Juvenile amendments (11 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to rules regulating the practice of law (November 17, 2011)

Order (429 kb)


Summary (96 kb)


Proposed amendments (200 kb)



In the Matter of Request for Public Comment Regarding Proposed Small Claims Pleadings Forms (October 7, 2011)

Order (550 kb)


Small Claims Forms (944 kb)



In the Matter of Formation of the Small Claims Forms Advisory Committee (May 18, 2011)

Order (619 kb)



In the Matter of the Supreme Court Committee to Study Lawyer Advertising Rules (April 15, 2011)

Order (466 kb)



In the Matter of Rescission of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (April 6, 2011)

Supervisory Order (206 kb)



In the Matter of Temporary Rules Governing the Electronic Document Management System and Use of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (April 4, 2011)

Temporary rules governing EDMS to exempt electronic filers in Small Claims actions until further notice of this court

Supervisory Order (364 kb)



In the Matter of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (April 1, 2011)

The March 28, 2011, order contained typographical errors in the numbering sequence of the new and amended Small Claims forms compared to the prior forms being replaced. The forms themselves were correctly numbered.

Amended Order (427 kb)



In the Matter of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (March 28, 2011)

The Court rescinds Chapter 3 of the Iowa Court Rules, Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions, in its entirety. The court approves and adopts the revised Chapter 3 of the Iowa Court Rules attached to this Order.
Effective April 4, 2011


Order (6666 kb)


Standard Forms (pdf) (774 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Jefferson and Louisa County Clerk of Court Offices (March 9, 2011)

Effective immediately

Nunc Pro Tunc (170 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Jefferson and Louisa County Clerk of Court Offices (March 9, 2011)

Effective immediately.

Supervisory Order (181 kb)



In the Matter of Amendments to Iowa Court Rules Chapter 4; Form 4.11 (February 2, 2011)

Effective immediately.

Order and Form 4.11 (895 kb)



In the Matter of Amendments to Iowa Court Rules Chapter 4: Forms 4.1, 4.2, 4.11, and 4.15 (December 27, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (3402 kb)



In the Matter of the Appointment of the EMC Media Coordinator for Region 3

Effective December 17, 2010.

Order (192 kb)



Proposed Adoption of 2005 Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (December 7, 2010)

Deadline for comments is March 7, 2011

Order (2271 kb)


Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (166 kb)


Chapter 11 Study Group (2195 kb)



In the Matter of the Retention of a Private Court Reporter in a Civil Case: Amendment to January 6, 2010 Order (November 24, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (835 kb)



In the Matter of Temporary Rules to Govern the Use of the Electronic Document Management System Plymouth County and Story County (November 4, 2010)

Supervisory Order (538 kb)


Chapter 16 - Rules Pertaining to the Use of the Electronic Document Management System (12070 kb)


Protected Information Disclosure (424 kb)


Small Claims Original Notice and Petition (3124 kb)


Notice of Transcript Redaction (445 kb)


General Commentary on Electronic Filing Rules (118 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Chickasaw and Howard County Clerk of Court Offices (October 19, 2010)

Effective October 25, 2010

Supervisory Order (207 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Greene County Clerk of Court Office (September 29, 2010)

Effective October 12, 2010

Supervisory Order (185 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Boone County Clerk of Court Office (September 29, 2010)

Effective October 5, 2010

Supervisory Order (177 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Adams, Ringgold and Taylor County Clerk of Court offices (September 29, 2010)

Effective October 4, 2010

Supervisory Order (189 kb)



In the Matter of the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Fine Collection Procedures, Practices and Rules (September 24, 2010)

Effective immediately

Order (928 kb)



In the Matter of the Public Hours of the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts (September 15, 2010)

Effective September 20, 2010

Supervisory Order (465 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Jones County Clerk of Court Office (August 18, 2010)

Effective August 30, 2010

Supervisory Order (167 kb)



In the Matter of the Appointment of Members to Serve on the Civil Justice Reform Task Force (August 6, 2010)

Supervisory Order (106 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Worth County Clerk of Court Office (August 4, 2010)

Effective September 10, 2010

Supervisory Order (181 kb)



In the Matter of Expanded Media Coverage of the Courts (July 21, 2010)

The supreme court has reorganized the jurisdiction of media coordinators for Jackson County.
Effective August 1, 2010

Order (171 kb)



In the Matter of Interim Procedures Governing the Collection of Court Fines and Fees (July 2, 2010)

Upon recommendation of the Judicial Council, the supreme court adopts interim provisions that will govern installment payment plans and other fine collection activities of the judicial branch until the adoption of permanent rules.
Effective July 12, 2010

Supervisory Order (1250 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Floyd County Clerk of Court Office (May 13, 2010)

Effective May 20, 2010

Supervisory Order (174 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Davis County Clerk of Court Office (May 4, 2010)

Effective May 10, 2010

Supervisory Order (176 kb)



In the Matter of Adoption of EDMS Rules for Pilot Project in Plymouth County (April 21, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (581 kb)


Chapter 16 - Rules Pertaining to the Use of the Electronic Document Management System (12017 kb)


Protected Information Disclosure (520 kb)


Small Claims Original Notice and Petition (2292 kb)


General Commentary on Electronic Filing Rules (2274 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Guthrie County Clerk of Court Office (April 13, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (173 kb)



In the Matter of the Business Hours of the Fremont County Clerk of Court Office (April 6, 2010)

Effective April 5, 2010

Supervisory Order (167 kb)



In the Matter of Appointment to the Task Force for Civil Justice Reform (March 23, 2010)

Effective immediately

Order (123 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (March 19, 2010)

Fremont county
Effective April 5, 2010

Supervisory Order (186 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (February 11, 2010)

Jefferson county
effective February 12, 2010

Supervisory Order (180 kb)



In the Matter of Prioritization of Cases and Duties (February 4, 2010)

Amendment to Order of December 1, 2009
Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (323 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (January 28, 2010)

Fifth District
effective February 1, 2010

Supervisory Order (252 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (January 26, 2010)

First, Second and Sixth districts
effective February 1, 2010

Supervisory Order (286 kb)



Proposed Revised Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct (January 19, 2010)

Chapter 51
Deadline for comments is March 19, 2010.

Order and Proposed Code (581 kb)



In the Matter of Private Retention of Court Reporters in Civil Cases (January 6, 2010)

Supervisory order (500 kb)



In the Matter of Appointments to the Task Force for Civil Justice Reform (December 18, 2009)

Order (655 kb)



In the Matter of Court Closure Days and Public Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (December 2, 2009)

Supervisory Order (63 kb)



In the Matter of Prioritization of Cases and Duties (December 1, 2009)

Supervisory Order (1318 kb)



In the Matter of the Public Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (November 17, 2009)

Supervisory Order (2646 kb)



In the Matter of Actions Taken to Reduce Judicial Branch Operating Expenses (November 12, 2009)

Supervisory Order (1443 kb)



In The Matter of Court Closure and Unpaid Leave Days (November 10, 2009)

Supervisory Order (497 kb)



In the Matter of Actions Taken to Reduce Judicial Branch Operating Expenses for Fiscal Year 2010 (June 25, 2009)

Supervisory Order (162 kb)



In the Matter of Court Closure Days and Reduced Public Hours (May 29, 2009)

Supervisory Order (288 kb)



In the Matter of Appointments to the Digital Audio Recording Technology Committee of the Judicial Council (May 7, 2009)

Order (380 kb)



In the Matter of Court Closure and Unpaid Leave Days: May 8 (May 5, 2009)

Supervisory Order (452 kb)



In the Matter of Mileage Reimbursement (March 31, 2009)

Supervisory Order (315 kb)



Actions Concerning Judicial Operations (March 13, 2009)

Supervisory Order (228 kb)



Action Taken to Reduce Operating Expenses (February 27, 2009)

Supervisory Order (186 kb)



Hearing on Proposed Rules (February 24, 2009)

A hearing is scheduled on Thursday, March 5, 2009, regarding minutes of evidence.

Order Setting Hearing Schedule (Feb. 24, 2009) (480 kb)


Order Setting Amended Hearing Schedule (March 2, 2009) (477 kb)


Order (Feb. 13, 2009) (749 kb)



Actions Taken to Reduce Judicial Branch Operating Expenses (February 2, 2009)

Supervisory Order (783 kb)



Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure (December 2, 2008)

Information about witnesses
Deadline for comments is January 2, 2009

Chapter 2, Rule 2.4 and 2.5 (589 kb)



Proposed Amendments to Iowa Court Rules (November 12, 2008)

Licensing and Practice of Foreign Legal Consultants
Deadline for comments is December 12, 2008

Chapter 31, Rule 31.14 and 31.18 (5008 kb)



In the Matter of Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.422 (September 23, 2008)

Rule 1.422

Supervisory Order (150 kb)



Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure (June 23, 2008)

Information about witnesses
Deadline for comments is July 23, 2008

Chapter 2, Rule 2.4 and 2.5 (96 kb)


Order (355 kb)


Final Report of the Child Support Guidelines Review Committee (378 kb)


Proposed Amendments to Chapter 9 (348 kb)


Rule 9.27, Forms 1 and 2 (418 kb)



Revisions to Electronic Document Management System Proposed Rules (June 10, 2008)

Public Notice (47 kb)


General commentary (71 kb)


Chapter 16--Pertaining to the use of EDMS (258 kb)



Proposed Amendments to Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rules of Civil Procedure Concerning Certiorari (June 6, 2008)

Deadline for comments is August 6, 2008

Order (81 kb)


Proposed Amendments to Rules of Appellate Procedure (851 kb)


Summary of Key Changes (238 kb)


Proposed Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure (113 kb)



Appointments to the Supreme Court Limited Jurisdiction Task Force (January 14, 2008)

Appointment Order (205 kb)


Resolution in Support of the Pew Commission (September 10, 2007) (86 kb)



Filing by facsimile transmission (August 6, 2007)

Order granting filing by facsimile transmission of certain documents in chapters 125 and 229 commitment proceedings
Effective immediately

Order (66 kb)



Uniform Bond Schedule (August 2, 2007)

Order amending uniform bond schedule

Order and bond schedule (97 kb)



Instructions to Compensation Commissioners from the Chief Justice (January 12, 2007)

Instructions (208 kb)

 
Tell Congress Public Transit Needs Dedicated Funding PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by American Public Transportation Association   
Monday, 13 February 2012 14:18
The House Ways and Means Committee proposed to divert the portion of the motor fuels tax revenues that has been dedicated to public transportation since 1983 and deposit those funds into the Highway Account to support highway investment. The current Mass Transit Account would be eliminated and replaced with the “Alternative Transportation Account” that would be funded with a one-time cash infusion of $40 billion from the general fund. Funding from the new Alternative Transportation Account would only  fund the federal transit program in fiscal years 2013 through 2016. This proposal does not provide for public transit investment beyond 2016.

These funding provisions will negatively impact the millions of Americans who rely on public transit  to get to work, to school or to the doctor by inhibiting the industry's ability to maintain and grow safe, reliable and equitable mobility options. Hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs will also be lost without a long-term dedicated funding source. Please contact your representatives today! http://capwiz.com/napta/home/

 
HUD AWARDS OVER $428,000 TO FIGHT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION IN IOWA PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Shantae Goodloe   
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:57

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has awarded $428,6222 to Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission (CRCRC), Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC), Des Moines Human Rights Department  (DMHRD), Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), Mason City Human Rights Commission (MCHRC), Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC), and Waterloo Commission on Human Rights (WCHR) to enforce fair housing laws and help communities and housing providers to better understand their fair housing rights and responsibilities. (Read project description for Iowa funding.) The funds, part of more than $7.5 million distributed nationwide today, will also be used to promote the Department’s new Equal Access to Housing regulation, which ensures that HUD housing and programs are open to all families, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

 

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to ending housing discrimination, no matter what form it takes,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  “With these funds, state and local government agencies on the front line of the fight will be able to continue their efforts to take on today’s many fair housing challenges.”

 

 

In awarding the funds, which are provided through HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP), HUD is responding to requests and suggestions from state and local government agencies that are seeking to partner with organizations that will assist in fair housing enforcement and outreach. The funds will help local communities learn more about their fair housing rights and housing providers meet their fair housing obligations, including those related to HUD’s new Equal Access to Housing regulation.

 

###

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and  transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and  http://espanol.hud.gov.  You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv.

Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) Funding

The following Iowa agencies have received funding:

 

 

State

Name of Agency

City

Amount


Iowa

Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission (CRCRC)

Cedar Rapids

$35,000.00


 

Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission (CRCRC)

Cedar Rapids

$55,000.00

 

 

Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission (CRCRC)

Cedar Rapids

$10,000.00

 

 

Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC)

Davenport

$55,000.00

 

 

Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC)

Davenport

$4,285.00

 

 

Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC)

Davenport

$2,500.00

 

 

Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC)

Davenport

$2,000.00

 

 

Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC)

Davenport

$500.00

 

 

Des Moines Human Rights Department  (DMHRD)

Des Moines

$44,680.00

 

 

Iowa Civil Rights Commission  (ICRC)

Des Moines

$10,000.00

 

 

Iowa Civil Rights Commission  (ICRC)

Des Moines

$2,000.00

 

 

Iowa Civil Rights Commission  (ICRC)

Des Moines

$11,200.00

 

 

Iowa Civil Rights Commission  (ICRC)

Des Moines

$6,500.00

 

 

Iowa Civil Rights Commission  (ICRC)

Des Moines

$7,500.00

 

 

Mason City Human Rights Commission (MCHRC)

Mason City

$86,802.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$5,000.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$1,400.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$1,000.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$1,350.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$1,000.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$5,000.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$2,600.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$650.00

 

 

Sioux City Human Rights Commission  (SCHRC)

Sioux City

$11,655.00

 

 

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights (WCHR)

Waterloo

$66,000.00

 

 

 

Total

$428,622.00

 

 

------------------------------

-----------------------------------------

 
Scott County Board of Supervisors Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Chris Berge   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 15:26
SCOTT COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

TENTATIVE AGENDA

February 13 - 17, 2012

Committee of the Whole - 8:00 am
Board Room, 1st Floor, Administrative Center

1. Roll Call: Cusack, Earnhardt, Hancock, Minard, Sunderbruch

2. Discussion of Public Hearing on the Construction Permit Application of Thomas
Dittmer, dba Grandview Farms, Inc in the SW¼SW¼ Section 7, T79N, R3E
(Sheridan Township) for the expansion of a confined animal feeding operation
located at 12090 240th Street. (Item 2)

3. Discussion of Public Hearing and presentation of Planning Commission’s
recommendation on application to rezone 15 acres (more or less) from A-G to R-1
located west of Great River Rd, south of Olethea Golf Course in the SW¼ of the SW
¼ of Section 14, LeClaire Township. (Item 3)

4. Presentation by Councilman Eddie Spengler of New Liberty.

5. Update on MH/DD FY12 Fund by Lori Elam.

6. Approval of Final Plat of Charles Brozovich Subdivision, a two lot residential and
agricultural subdivision located east of 100th Avenue, south of 12705 and 12581
100th Avenue in the part of the south 35 acres of the west 70 acres in the NW ¼ of
Section 11, Buffalo Township. (Item 6)

7. Approval of property tax abatement on County Tax Deed properties (Item 7).

8. Discussion of strategy of upcoming labor negotiations with the County's organized
employees pursuant to Iowa Code Section 20.17(3). - CLOSED SESSION

9. Approval of appointment of Assistant County Attorney at 94% of midpoint of salary in
the Attorney's Office. (Item 9)

10. Approval of appointment of Shop Supervisor at 91% of midpoint of salary in the
Secondary Roads' Office. (Item 10)

11. Approval of personnel actions. (Item 11)

12. Discussion of quarterly financial summary report. (Item 12)

13. Approval of quarterly financial reports from various county offices. (Item 13)

14. Discussion of Board Members annual visits with County Departments. (Item 14)

Regular Board Meeting - 5:30 pm
Board Room, 1st Floor, Administrative Center

 
Cameras in the SCOTUS, Distrust of Justice Department PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 15:18

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Executive Business Meeting

Thursday, February 9, 2012

 

With regard to the nominations, there are four nominations on the agenda for the first time.  There is a request on our side for these nominations to be held over for a week.

 

Today, the only bill on the agenda is S. 1945- The Cameras in the Courtroom Act.  It would allow all Americans to have the opportunity to watch Supreme Court proceedings.  This bill is not new.  It has been before the committee on several occasions.  Each time, it was reported out favorably with bi-partisan support.

I am a cosponsor of this legislation and strongly believe it will help educate millions of Americans who do not know or understand how the Supreme Court works.

Before we move to S.1945, I want to take a minute and talk about an important issue that relates to the transparency of court proceedings that members of the committee should be aware of.

Yesterday, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion ordering the public release of a 500 page report outlining serious misconduct by Justice Department attorneys from the Public Integrity Section during the prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens.

 

In the opinion, Judge Sullivan discussed the tortured history of the Stevens prosecution.  Specifically, he noted that after a public indictment, a public trial, a public conviction, and a press conference celebrating the guilty verdict, evidence of prosecutorial misconduct arose.

He also noted that only as the evidence of misconduct became clearer, and harder to refute, did the Justice Department dismiss the indictment and vacate the verdict.  However, the Justice Department also stepped in to protect the prosecutors.

The Justice Department initially sought to prevent any misconduct review by the court arguing instead for an internal review the prosecutors conduct via the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).  To his credit, Judge Sullivan did not allow this and instead appointed a special investigator to investigate and prosecute the Justice Department attorneys responsible for the prosecution of Senator Stevens.

Following the completion of this investigation, the special investigator produced a 500 page report that found, “the investigation and prosecution of Senator Stevens were permeated by the systemic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated [his] defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”  This is an incredible finding and one that as Judge Sullivan puts it, has “led to a continuing national public discourse on prosecutorial misconduct and whether and what steps should be taken to prevent it.”

I agree with Judge Sullivan, the public has a right to know what the special investigator found and how pervasive the misconduct was inside the Public Integrity Unit at the Justice Department.  The American people need to hear the truth about what happened, not simply trust the Justice Department’s internal Office of Professional Responsibility review process.

In addition to Judge Sullivan’s decision to release the independent report, the Justice Department should follow and publicly release the final report issued by Office of Professional Responsibility.

At our oversight hearing in November, Attorney General Holder stated in response to a request from Senator Hatch calling for the release of the final Office of Professional Responsibility report, “That is up to the people at OPR…what I have indicated was that I want to share as much of that as we possibly can, given the very public nature of that matter, and the very public decision that I made to dismiss the case.”

Despite the Attorney General’s purported desire to make this information public, his initial comment that it is “up to the people at OPR” to make that decision, leads me to believe we aren’t likely to ever see that report.

The Justice Department has routinely blocked the release of Office of Professional Responsibility investigations citing privacy laws and employee rights of the attorneys and agents guilty of misconduct.  The Attorney General ultimately oversees the Office of Professional Responsibility and if he truly wants that information made public, he should order it released upon the conclusion of the investigation.

Between the misconduct in the Stevens case and the notorious Operation Fast & Furious, where the Justice Department knowingly walked guns to Mexican drug cartels which may have led to the death of a federal agent, it’s easy to see why so many elected officials and the American people have lost faith in the leadership at the Justice Department under the Obama Administration.

These public failures paint a picture of a department where bad decision-making rules the day -- A department where attorneys prosecuting a sitting U.S. Senator systemically conceal “significant exculpatory evidence” that would have damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.

A department where whistleblowers, who don’t go along, are sure to face retaliation from supervisors and then are forced into bureaucratic limbo to adjudicate their cases.

A department where one Assistant Attorney General prepares a letter to a Senator saying that ATF doesn’t allow guns to cross the border, while another Assistant Attorney General is in Mexico the same day advocating a plan to let guns cross the border as an investigative strategy—which was explicitly forbidden by the Deputy Attorney General a month later.

Something is wrong here and it’s easy to see why the public is outraged.

Further, the overreaching by the Obama Administration’s Justice Department impacts us here in Congress, Republican and Democrat.  For example, legislation addressing online infringement hit a massive roadblock on the floor in part because the public doesn’t trust the current Justice Department to do the right thing. Instead, and I heard from many constituents about this point, the American people are worried the Attorney General will use his power for political censorship.  That’s the kind of impact the distrust has had and it affects us all.

The Stevens prosecution and these other examples are all serious problems that need to be addressed.  Not to mention the fact that the failed prosecution cost the taxpayers three-fold. First, the cost to investigate and prosecute; second, the cost of the special investigator; and third, the defense attorneys paid to defend the prosecutors from the contempt charge.  The defense attorneys alone cost taxpayers $1.8 million.

The cost alone is reason enough for us to discuss these cases in this committee and hold a hearing to get to the bottom of what is going on at the Justice Department.  The public’s confidence in the department is shaken and rightfully so.

The best thing the department can do is be transparent and accountable, something that was promised, not only by the President, but also at many confirmation hearings.  The transparency promised has yet to be realized.

S. 1945–Cameras in the Courtroom Act

My interest in expanding the people’s access to the Supreme Court increased eleven years ago when the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments on the Florida recount during the 2000 Presidential Election.  Senator Schumer and I urged the Supreme Court to open the arguments to live broadcast.  In response, the Supreme Court took the then unprecedented step of releasing an audio recording of their arguments shortly after they occurred.  It was a sign of progress that gave the entire country the opportunity to experience what so few get to: the Supreme Court at work.

In 2010, the Supreme Court began releasing audio recordings of its proceedings at the end of each week.  This was another step in the right direction and I applaud the court for increasing its transparency and access.  But it’s not enough.  I believe that the nature of our government and the fundamental principles upon which it was built require more.

As President Lincoln said, ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Our Constitution divides power.  It creates a system of checks and balances.  But most importantly, it makes the government accountable to the people.  The best way we can ensure that the federal government is accountable is to create transparency, openness, and access.

 

That’s why this bill is necessary: it offers Americans access to the highest court in the land.  According to a poll released last year, 62 percent of Americans believe that they hear too little about the workings of the Supreme Court.  Two-thirds of Americans want to know more.  What could be a better source of the workings of the Supreme Court than the Supreme Court itself?

In 1947, the Supreme Court stated, “what transpires in the courtroom is public property.”  Well, if its public property, then it belongs to the whole public, not just the 200 people who can fit inside the public gallery.  With today’s technology, there’s no reason why arguments could not be broadcast in an easy, unobtrusive, and respectful manner that would preserve the dignity of the Supreme Court’s work and grant access to the millions of Americans wishing to know more.

My state knows something about this.  For over 30 years, Iowa has permitted the broadcast of its trial and appellate courts.  In fact a few weeks ago, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady testified before this committee about his unique experience sitting on a bench that regularly broadcast its proceedings.  It’s important to note that he was the only witness with this experience.

Because of his unique perspective, I urge my colleagues to give special weight to his testimony, especially to three things he emphasized.

First, Chief Justice Cady explained that broadcasting the court’s proceedings had NO negative effect.  He was asked about the effects cameras had on case preparation, on the attorneys before the court, and on the judges themselves and their deliberations.  In each instance, he reported that there was NO effect.

Second, he and his fellow justices did not anticipate the great interest their proceedings drew.  In 2006, the court began webcasting its arguments.  That year, the 40 arguments the court webcast were viewed a modest 5,000 times.  The following year, however, court arguments were viewed over 75,000 times.  I believe that when the Supreme Court begins broadcasting their proceedings, they too will be pleasantly surprised by the large numbers of Americans interested in the work they do.

Third and last, Chief Justice Cady told us that he and his fellow justices have noted how creating an open, transparent, and accessible Supreme Court has increased Iowans’ understanding and trust of the court’s role.  I believe that once the American people are able to see and observe their Supreme Court in action, they too will gain a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the court.

For those reasons, I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill.

Thank you.

 
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