Local man makes magistrate

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, June 7, 2017
The Honorable Judge Trey Sucher is presiding. The West Branch man with a West Liberty practice will now serve as magistrate for Cedar County.

“I am a judge, I’ll be a member of the bench,” says Sucher. “I’ll have a robe, I don’t know if I’ll have a gavel actually. There is some formal training I have to go through, it’s not as easy as throwing on a robe.”

The magistrate court handles non-indictable criminal cases, claim cases under $5,000, landlord/tenant disputes, mental health commitments and other minor court issues.

Basically, he’s the guy most Iowans will face when arguing the validity of a speeding ticket and other small cases that have nothing to do with jail time or major consequences.

It’s a lower level court, but it allows Sucher to keep operating his private practice in West Liberty, which he describes as an immigration focus general practice.

“We offer a service that fills a niche and a need,” he says of the Trey Sucher Law Firm. “I would say probably 90 plus percent of my clients are non-english speaking.”

Trey Sucher lives in West Branch with his wife and two children. As a judge he’ll work part time with Magistrate Tamra Roberts.

The two will swap weeks for the judicial branch in Cedar County. The county seat is in Tipton. Actually, Sucher shadowed Roberts for quite-a-while before accepting the position.

“I think I’m very prepared for this, I wouldn’t have applied for it if I didn’t think I’d be able to zealously continue my private practice clients,” he says confidently.

“I shadowed Tamra for more than a year, just making sure I was comfortable with the process and it was something I thought I could do in addition to maintaining my practice,” he added.

Sucher is serious about his firm, a labor of love he stablished in West Liberty in 2012. He did so to fill a need for what he describes as an underserved market, especially in small towns in Iowa.

West Liberty has one of the largest hispanic/latino populations in correlation to its size in Iowa, a population which sits above 3,500. They make up a majority of his clients.

He started the firm with little to nothing, opening his doors along Highway 6 in the north part of West Liberty. Five years later he has expanded his list of clients and opened two new offices.

Those offices include Tim Farmer of Perry, Iowa and Emily Swartz of Marshalltown, Iowa. So, on top of being a magistrate Sucher will continue to be an entrepreneur.

“We’re busy,” he says. “All of our staff members speak Spanish. I think over the course of several years we’ll establish ourselves as a trusted resource in our communities.”

In West Liberty word-of-mouth has been particularly helpful to his practice. Either way, rest assured that his practice will be equally as important as his duties as a magistrate.

However, Sucher has had an ongoing interest to become a part of the bigger picture.

“I’ve been interested in being a member of the judiciary for a long time,” he says. It helps that Tipton is only half an hour away from where he lives.

A year ago he had a state public defender contract that brought him to Cedar County quite-a-bit. During that time he developed a relationship with the court staff there.

When it’s his turn in the magistrate rotation Sucher will go to Tipton twice-a-week on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and preside over a small court room, one like you’d imagine.

There are elevated benches and two tables for the opposing parties. He describes it as very TV like, just on a smaller scale. Accordingly, he’s the gate keeper of the “Small Stuff.”

However, technology also affords him the opportunity to judge over Skype if needed, an online video network.

Another part of Magistrate Sucher’s duties will include approving warrants for the police, no matter what time of the day it may be.

“If something comes up and they need a warrant at 3 a.m. in the morning they’ll call me,” he says. “I get to get up and look at it, choose yay or nay, sign it and send it back to them.”

“The district court judges, the higher level judges, take the big stuff,” he adds. So, as magistrate he’ll be busy tackling many minor cases in addition to running his own firm.

Sucher hails from Urban Dale, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. He’s been a part of law his whole life. He believes a part of his success has to do with his positive personality.

But that does beg the question, how does one handle a job in which half of the time they’ll be disappointing, or just generally ticking off, another person or party?

“I know that I’m doing the absolute best that I can, I think I’d only be bothered by it if I thought I could’ve done something differently,” he says. “But I know that I am, and you can’t please everybody.”

That sounds pretty fair for a guy who’s about to make part of his living through being fair.

“Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. You just try to stay right there in the center,” he concludes.

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