Iowa chief justice: Funding cuts hurting access to justice

The head of Iowa’s court system says “Iowans are losing access to justice” because more than 100 court jobs remain empty following budget cuts.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady offered the assessment Wednesday during his annual judiciary address to lawmakers.

Cady says the court system is operating with 115 “essential” positions unfilled. He adds rural Iowans are receiving fewer court services than urban residents.

Cady also says specialty courts dealing with substance abuse cannot be expanded until the Legislature increases funding. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds highlighted the need to better address opioids in her Condition of the State speech Tuesday.

Cady’s office has a roughly $175 million budget that’s been reduced in recent years. Reynolds announced mid-year budget cuts Tuesday that include $1.6 million for the judicial branch.