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Private Judges Bill Passes Alabama House, Awaits Governor Bentley’s Signature

Staff Report

MONTGOMERY–Representative Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) and The Alabama House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 138, the so-called “Private Judges Bill” Sponsored by Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and Co-Sponsors Senators Whatley (R-Auburn) and Fielding (D-Sylacauga) which allow parties in a dispute to pay the costs of a judge to hear their dispute in a more timely fashion, provided the damages sought are less than or equal to $100,000.

“I want to thank my house colleagues for passing this bill, and the Governor for his signature when that happens,” Senator Ward said. “This bill will allow Alabama’s overcrowded court dockets relief, while speeding up the resolution process for parties with relatively minor damages. This is an example of fiscally conservative legislation and outside the box thinking that will help all branches of government get through our current budget crises.”

The House passed Senate Bill 138 by a vote of 78-7 it now awaits Governor Bentley’s signature. The Governor is expected to sign it, and other legislation at the end of the week.

“I am happy to help my colleague Senator Ward pass this important, and fiscally conservative legislation,” Rep. Jones said. “I second his sentiments about this being the type of legislation we will need more of in the future, and I thank my house colleagues for their research and attention to detail when dealing with this matter.”

In cases that elect to use private judges, the presiding judge will appoint a retired or supernumerary judge to hear the claim immediately. The private judges will have a minimum qualification of six years, and be current on their bar membership and continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. An administrative fee is also applied.

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