When we returned to the courthouse, our auditor, Rhonda Deters, led us through the Clerk's Office and up a small back staircase into the judge's office. A judge is there every Monday to hear short cases (30 minutes or less). Longer cases have to be scheduled for other days.
In the hall after leaving the judge's office, we encountered a bookshelf full of court cases.
The volumes of Iowa Reports went back to the early 1900s.
We left the hall and entered the library full of more Iowa Reports and the North Western Reporter.
The room is mainly used by lawyers and their clients when they need to discuss anything in private. When Mrs. Deters worked for a law firm, she often had to search through the volumes to find evidence from previous court cases to support the firm's clients' cases. However, the volumes are not used as frequently now since so much information is readily available on the internet.
The first Iowa Reporter is dated 1847.
Also in the library were copies of the Iowa Code throughout the years. In 1977, the code only filled 2 volumes. In 2011, it filled 6 volumes. Still, it's a far cry from the immense tomes of federal law under which nearly everyone is condemned!
Next, we were brought through a door without handles into the courtroom. The courtroom reminded me of where lawyer Jarrod Barkley argued his cases in Big Valley. Originally the courtroom had a higher ceiling, but a false ceiling was installed to conserve energy. Still, the room has an aura of majesty.
The jury box
The view from the front of the room.
The front staircases and windows leading up to the courtroom.
Mrs. Deters and I in front of the Great Seal of Iowa which bears our state motto:
"Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."
Learning about how the judicial branch works in our own county was enlightening. We study government in books and classes, but the best way to learn about it is to see it and talk with people who know its workings first hand. I'd like to thank our Auditor Rhonda Deters again for sharing her thorough knowledge of the county government with us and taking us on the fascinatingly instructive tour!