New judge on the bench
Tofilon becomes District Associate judge
Exactly one month after he was appointed to serve as a judge in Webster County District Associate Court, Joseph Tofilon has adjusted to his new role.
Tofilon, who was sworn in as a judge on Jan. 11, has served in a variety of roles in the Webster County judicial system over the years.
He was hired as an assistant Webster County attorney in 2012, where he served until 2015, when he became a partner in the Thatcher, Tofilon and Livingston law office.
“I’ve been a prosecutor, an indigent defense attorney, a law clerk,” Tofilon said. “And I thought that becoming a judge would be the next step in the progression of public service.”
Tofilon said he has always been interested in public service, which is why he decided to enter the legal field.
“Being a judge is just a way of serving my community,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of good I can do for the community by serving as a judge.”
In his role as a District Associate Court judge, Tofilon is responsible for juvenile matters in both Webster and Humboldt counties, as well as indictable misdemeanor cases in Webster County.
“So serious and aggravated misdemeanors,” Tofilon said. “That’s your assaults and OWIs (operating while under the influence) and drug possession, driving offenses, thefts, things like that.”
All his past legal experience has prepared him for serving as a judge.
“I’ve been in the shoes of all the attorneys that appear in front of me,” he said. “I’ve prosecuted a case, I’ve defended a case. I know the tricks of the trade of being in both professions.”
“I’ve dealt with victims as a prosecutor and I’ve been there to help defendants and parents in private practice,” Tofilon added. “I’ve got insight into both sides of the aisle and everybody who is in my courtroom.”
The biggest learning curve, he said, is having to adapt to the technology that’s available to him.
“As far as learning the areas of law, I haven’t really had to learn the areas of law, because I’ve worked in both juvenile and criminal law for my entire career, pretty much,” he said. “It’s just working on the logistics. That hasn’t been too difficult, and I’m starting to get the hang of it.”
As a judge, Tofilon said he’s most looking forward to helping the people who are in his courtroom.
“There’s a lot of people who come into the court system that need help,” he said. “There are parents who need help beating addiction. There are kids that need help to have a safe home. There are victims who need protection and justice. And there are defendants who need punishment and rehabilitation.”
Tofilon graduated from the University of Iowa School of Law in 2005. After graduation, he served as a law clerk for three different jurisdictions; the 5th Judicial District of Iowa, the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois, and a justice on the Illinois Appellate Court in Chicago.
He was a private practice attorney in the Iowa City area for about two years before moving to Fort Dodge to become a prosecutor with the Webster County attorney’s office.