Iowa chief justice orders one-day furlough; More court holidays could loom

Chris Rizo Feb. 3, 2009, 11:54am

Marsha Ternus

DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline)- The Iowa Supreme Court, amid a cut to its budget, has issued an order closing all state court offices Feb. 16.

The day of unpaid leave for about 1,600 employees is expected to save the state courts' operating budget more than $335,000, court officials said.

The only court employees to work on the one-day furlough will be state judges and magistrates because their salaries are set by state lawmakers.

The furlough will occur on President's Day, which is a federal holiday. Because other government agencies are closed that day, officials say there will be less of an effect on the public.

"In order to address the expected current budget shortfall and in recognition of the fact that upcoming budgets may require further austerity, the court finds it must with great reluctance reduce the level of service it provides to the public," Chief Justice Marsha Ternus wrote in the order.

"These necessary hardships unfortunately will be borne by the public at large and also by the employees of the judicial branch," she added.

Speaking Tuesday to state lawmakers, the chief justice noted that if the state Legislature follows Gov. Chet Culver's proposed 1.5 percent spending cut in the current fiscal year, the state court system will have to close for four additional days.

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