Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit was a guest speaker for a Hy-Noon Kiwanis group Monday, as well as visiting Circle K at Buena Vista University during alternative happy hour, and talking with local students at St. Mary's.
Streit stressed the importance of the judiciary system in Iowa and how the judges are promoted by merit.
"We are blessed that we vote to retain judges," Streit said. "There a problems in other states with people who use the state supreme court as a stepping stone. Former Attorney General Gonzales is the perfect example. He was on the Supreme Court in Texas then left to become attorney general."
Streit pointed out that judges are placed on the ballot every eight years.
"Things would be a lot different if there was suddenly an opposite on the ballot," Streit said.
According to the justice, there are problems with special interest groups that will use one case against a judge to try and get them removed from the bench.
During his talk with the Circle K group, he pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court is different than the state high court.
"I had the privilege to talk with Thomas Clancy and he said that justices don't talk together and even rarely see each other," Streit said. "Most of the communication is done with memos or the clerks."
He is not impressed with the way the Supreme Court is portrayed in TV dramas.
"I think with lawyer shows and medical shows many of those people have given up on accuracy," Strait said. "I have a friend whose sister works in CSI in Las Vegas who curses out the show - but doesn't change the channel."
Streit also talked about changes in the court system, including electronic filling of causes.
Such a system is expected to be completely installed by this time next year in Iowa.
"We have two trial counties in Plymouth and Story County were lawyers will be able to file at 2 a.m. if they wish," Streit said. "We joke that we are always open, but it will be true. There will no longer a be a need to drive all over the place to file cases. It really doesn't happen now, but it be completely eliminated."
Streit added that it could be possible in the further that the supreme court can use electronics to hear testimony.
The justice also spoke about teaching today's students about the law.
"People thinks that in school you aren't in the real world, but they are," Streit said. "People sometimes don't think about it, but if they do choose to study to be a lawyer, what they do will affect someone's life. I hope we can drive that home to students."
The justice closed his remarks with a note of humor.
"What do you call a doctor who graduated last in his class? 'Doctor.' But what do you call a lawyer who is last in their class? - 'Your honor,'" Streit said with laugh.