SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- Cost cutting continues in the courts. Thursday, the Iowa Judicial Branch announced it will shed $11.4 million from its budget.
Statewide, 105 people will lose their jobs, 100 open positions will stay unfilled and 58 employees will have their hours reduced. In northwest Iowa's third judicial district, fourteen workers were let go Thursday.
"A dark day for the judicial branch," said third district Chief Judge Duane Hoffmeyer.
Thursday's staffing changes reduce the judicial branch's workforce more than nine percent. The cuts come from all areas including court reporters, administrative positions, and most significantly, clerks of court.
"We will not have the staff that we need to keep up with the workload," said third district Court Administrator Leesa McNeil.
That means clerks' offices will shut down early so employees can keep up with the workload.
McNeil says, "Any closure to the public during normal business hours will have a negative effect on the public."
For people who have more pressing legal matters, a clogged clerks office means a slower court process. Because of that, officials say some cases will take priority over others.
High priority cases include criminal cases where a suspect is in custody, divorces involving custody matters, and substance abuse cases. Among lower priority cases, a criminal case where the suspect is free on bond, and those in small claims court.
Although cases will take longer to process, Judge Hoffmeyer says Iowans shouldn't fear for their safety
"If there's an individual that should be arrested and should be placed in jail, I think that's where they would be," Hoffmeyer said.
There is one positive point in this latest announcement. Judge Hoffmeyer says, because the court waited to finalize cuts, instead of the ordered 10-percent reduction, the judicial branch moved money around to cut only 7.1 percent.
Workers laid off Thursday will get paid through December 10th.