MOLINE, ILLINOIS - Inspired by his attorney father and following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, Justice Charles M. Waterman, who served on the Iowa Supreme Court from 1898 to 1902, newly elected Justice Tom Waterman sits down to talk with Jim Mertens on "The Cities." The program will air on Thursday, July 7th at 6:30 pm and Sunday, July 10 at 5:30 pm.
Speaking about his appointment, Justice Waterman said "I was thrilled to land the position for the Quad Cities. We haven't had a resident justice here since Linda Neumann retired in 2003..." he went on to say "...It's important both for the court and for the Quad Cities to have a resident justice here again. It improves communications, and a lot of what our Supreme Court does is to administer the rules and the personnel in the judicial branch..." Justice Waterman said he was honored to have been appointed to the court and "After 9-11, like many American's, I felt an impulse to give back to the community." He feels strongly that this job fulfills that goal.
Host Jim Mertens asked if it bothered him how the court was politicized the way it was prior to the 2010 elections. Waterman responded "Well, it was a shock to the judicial system, and one thing I've seen now that I'm serving on the court is the backlog the new justices have inherited because the court was at barely over half strength for a number of months and very distracted before it. It had never happened before, and normally the Supreme Court changes one justice at a time, normally through retirement. It never lost three and never had three new members join all at once. At the same time, that made the need all the greater and the opportunity to serve all the more important..." he went on to say "I think it's very important to our system of checks and balances that our court not get politicized, and two of the downsides to what happened are the risks that justices and judges will get intimidated and base a decision on what they think is popular rather than what the law requires."
Among his plans on the court, he wants more of Iowa's citizens to see how the court works." I hope to bring the court to Davenport within the next year or so. It provides the public with an opportunity to come to a local auditorium, see the court in action and one of my favorite parts of the job is the oral arguments," Waterman said.
Other innovations on the court, is the videotaping of arguments before the court. By archiving the cases, people can go to the Iowa Supreme Court website and be better informed about the cases before the court and their outcomes. Justice Waterman feels that it is the job of the justices to "protect the integrity of the system" and said that upcoming cases include civil, criminal and constitutional issues. To find out more about Justice Tom Waterman, tune in to WQPT Thursday at 6:30 pm.
WQPT is a media service of Western Illinois University located in Moline, Illinois.