Judge Staudt

January 24, 2017

District Court Judge David F. Staudt for the State of Iowa

Background and Education: Judge Staudt received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1990 and his law degree from Drake University in 1993.

Career: Judge Staudt was in private practice until joining the Waterloo’s Public Defender’s Office in 1997, where he was appointed Chief Public Defender in 2006.

“In order to be convicted of a crime, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Two Types of Judicial Systems

As explained by Judge Staudt

1- (United States) Federal Courts

2- (Iowa) State Courts:

Supreme Court of Iowa & Court of Appeals:

  • Both Supreme Court and Court of Appeals never hear original cases, they simply review them

District Court: 

  • Hears felony/serious criminal cases, divorces, civil cases and money judgements of $10,000 and more
  • Class A felonies
    • 25 to life in prison with no chance of parole
    • 1st degree murder, which is defined as malice, forethought and attempt to kill
    • 2nd degree murder, which is defined as no malice and forethought to kill
    • Sexual assault
    • Kidnapping
  • Class B felonies
    • Up to 25 years
    • Attempted murder
    • Robbery in the first degree
    • Burglary in the first degree
    • Kidnapping in the second degree
    • Giving marijuana to a minor
  • Class C felonies
    • Up to 10 years
    • Delivery/possession with intent to deliver
  • Class D felonies
    • Up to 5 years
    • Certain drug charges (growing marijuana)
    • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Can also hear everything that the Assistant District Court and Magistrate hears

Assistant District Court:

  • Hears OWIs/DUIs, Possession of drugs, assaults, and money judgements between $1,000-$10,000
  • Can also hear everything that the Magistrate hears


  • Hears simple misdemeanors; such as speeding tickets, public intoxication tickets, small claims/money judgements only up to $1,000
  • Cannot hear anything that both the Assistant District Court and District Court hear

Q & A

Q: Can we go watch court trials and take notes/videos?

A: We have open courts; you can come in at any time and watch any trial in court. If you want to watch a divorce trial and see how much money is being divided then come on down and watch it. Murder trials, speeding tickets, everything. You can take notes, yes, you can take a piece of paper and write down notes but you can’t take use your cellphone. You virtually can’t use your phone at all in court because you’re there to watch the trial; if you’re on your phone then what’re you there for?

Q: Have you been following the Michelle Kehoe Trial?

A: I was there, I sat through the trial, I helped with the trial, we talked about the case. I was involved in the case so I can’t really talk about that case. 

Q: How do we know what trials are happening?

A: When you get to the court house, there are schedules up. I don’t know about online. But if you go in and say you’re a student at UNI, they should provide what some interesting trials might be and where they would be taking place within the courthouse. The problem with a murder trial, however, is they take multiple days sometimes even multiple weeks.

Q: What is the difference between regular students and journalists coming to the courthouse in terms of access?

A: If students want to be there, they have a right to be there. With journalists, there are a little bit of different rules. If you’re with the press you might have to file an Expanded Media Coverage request which, if granted (and this was a greater deal back in the day), would provide you with access to important dates sooner than the public. Another thing about coming to the courthouse is that you, students or the press, have to behave yourself and follow the courthouse rules. And the thing is, the rules have expanded over the years. If you’re the press you can have your laptop, phone, tablet, whatever during the trial. But the average person, you students, cannot. 


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