The Iowa Supreme Court has issued an order delaying deadlines for the days that a half-dozen district court offices were closed due to flooding.
That means the courts, lawyers and other people involved in cases in those jurisdictions essentially get an extension on speedy trial and other deadlines.
The offices of the clerk of district courts that were closed for between one and four days as floodwaters spilled across their communities were in Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Floyd, Linn and Polk counties.
Linn County’s courthouse in Cedar Rapids suffered extensive damage as waters from the nearby Cedar River reached to the building’s second floor. Its operations had to be moved to Kirkwood Community College and some courtrooms were located in a local high school.
Chief Justice Marsha Ternus signed the order this week that said all speedy trial time limits in criminal and juvenile cases, as well as the time limits for civil, criminal, probate, traffic and small claims cases, will be tolled, or delayed, for the days the clerk’s offices were closed due to flooding.
“This court recognizes that there may be instances where, because of this flood, these and other nonjurisdictional time limits could not be met even after taking into consideration the tolling periods …” the order said.
When the deadlines are missed, Ternus said they will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Robert Rigg, director of the Criminal Defense Program at Drake University Law School, said many cases may pass deadlines despite the extension afforded by the court’s order. But, he said it won’t take much for a district court or associate court judge to look at applications in those cases to further extend the time limits.
“The idea is that nobody lose time with regard to the statutes of limitations or other statutory rule considerations _ that nobody is essentially punished for something they have no control over, which is flooding,” he said.