By Jack Mayne
Judge Lisa Leone – in her second state of the city court address on May 11 – said the mission of the court is to provide fair, impartial and timely administration of justice while being “respectful to all.”
In her report to the Des Moines City Council, Judge Leone said the mission statement for the court says it “will respect the dignity of every person, regardless of race, class, gender or other characteristic, apply the law appropriately to the circumstances of individual cases, and include judges and court staff who reflect the community’s diversity.”
It was acclaimed as accomplishing that standard when it was under the leadership of now King County Superior Court Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan until the end of 2015.
Now City Manager Michael Matthias says Judge Lisa Leone has maintained and improved on the high standards that Judge Galvan set.
In her annual report to the Council (download .ppt here), Judge Leone said she and her 10-person staff are maintaining the high standards while the court workload has increased 300 percent in case filings due to implementation of traffic safety cameras – often called “red light cameras.”
The impact of the cameras was “much greater than we anticipated,” she told Council.
The judge said she was “so impressed with every single” member of her staff.
“Just today (May 11) there was a line out the door … every clerk was on the phone taking the time for every one who has questions about the cameras or anything else.”
Judge Leone said the court has added anger management therapy for people with chronic substance abuse or anger management problems. The eight-week course is provided at cost to those who need it.
Leone said the program was needed and this was “the most cost effective way of doing it.”
The court also has a Department of Corrections work crew alternative to jail time.
Case management and security of the court has also been increased. The court is working to upgrade security standards to meet State Supreme Court requirements.
“We probably will need some funding” to meet the requirements, she said.
The judge told the City Council that automated receipting for online payments is in the process of being implemented.
She said she is going to ask the city to increase the probation officer to full time because of the added manpower in the Des Moines Police Department that, in turn, has added cases to the court.