Lady Justice outside Iowa Supreme Court

Iowa’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court recently brought up the idea of developing a specific court system to handle agricultural issues.  As a licensed Iowa attorney with a specific interest in agriculture, I love the idea.  Plus, such a court would be a great asset for Iowa’s number one industry.  

Chief Justice, Mark Cady, brought up the idea during an appearance in Tipton, Iowa while drumming up support for an increase in funding for Iowa’s court system.  Chief Justice Cady emphasized that national agricultural companies would more likely do business in Iowa if Iowa had a specific agricultural court with judges who were experts in the fields of agricultural law. 

I think the Chief Justice is right in promoting the need for additional funding for the court system.  Although Iowa’s court system is currently rated fifth nationally, the Chief Justice pointed out that the courts are taking too long to reach decisions and are failing to help those most in need.  I can personally attest to Justice Cady’s concerns regarding the court’s need for more resources.  

I also like the Judge’s outside-the-box thinking in dealing with legal issues at the forefront of agriculture.  Logistically, however, I question whether you could divvy up jurisdiction between agricultural and non-agricultural courts.  Which issues would be considered agricultural and which would not, especially in the Midwest where agriculture touches almost everything?  Would a trespass claim, or injury claim be handled differently just because the event occurred on a farm or ranch rather than somebody’s backyard?  

I would be interested to hear examples of other states that have created separate courts for specific industries or ideas on how the judge’s proposal could work in Iowa.    

For more information on Chief Justice Cady’s speech check out Mike Ferguson’s article in the Muscatine Journal.