President’s Message – February/March 2022

PCBA President Debra Hockett-Clark

As promised, here is your opening family law joke:

A divorce court judge said to the husband, “I have reviewed this case very carefully, and I’ve decided to give your wife $800 a week.”

“That’s very fair, your honor,” he replied. “And every now and then, I’ll try to send her a few bucks myself.”

During the past PCBA Board meeting, I was informed that the restoration of the Historic Polk County Courthouse is just about finished with the exception of one elevator. The Courthouse has come a long way over the past 116 years.

The Historic Polk County Courthouse was built in 1906 for $750,000. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places on April 30, 1979. When originally built, there were four courtrooms on the third floor of the courthouse and space for two additional courtrooms. In 2019, there were 29 courtrooms in the Polk County Courthouse in the same space in the original courthouse.

Now that the renovations are done, I invite all of you to plan some time to go to the Historic Courthouse and spend some time admiring all of the years of planning and hard work. Here are just a few of the highlights you will see:

  1. Large jury assembly rooms that can accommodate hundreds of jurors on the south end of the first floor.
  2. The family courts are located on the north end of the first floor with designated waiting area for domestic abuse victims away from alleged abusers.
  3. Second floor has several courtrooms and the third-floor courtrooms have been returned to their original grandeur by removing the false ceilings to reveal beautiful arched ceilings.
  4. The murals have been restored and modern technology has been integrated into each of the courtrooms to enable lawyers to effectively present evidence.
  5. The stained-glass ceilings have been revealed in the fourth-floor courtrooms.
  6. There are private meeting rooms so lawyers can talk confidentially with their clients rather than standing in public hallways.
  7. Probate court will have an actual courtroom rather than trying to hold hearings in a small office.

Having a beautiful courthouse is something that we can appreciate as attorneys but there are many people who are not able to access justice in our beautiful courthouse. The Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project continues to receive many requests from clients who need our expertise to help them with their cases. They do not have the financial ability to hire an attorney. I ask that you contact Sonja Diener and request a list of the cases that need placements. I know many of you took the 2022 Pro Bono Pledge to provide 22 hours of pro bono time to clients. Get started on your pledge now by taking a VLP case.

Lastly, make sure you mark your calendar for the free Spring CLE which has been set for April 21, 2022. The topics and speakers are being selected so feel free to send Henry Hamilton any ideas you might have for the program. The program will be online again.