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Cash Starved Courts Get $2 Million

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Montgomery, AL November, 4, 2013 – Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) received word from the Governor, via a phone call on Saturday, and a letter Monday, regarding a conditional appropriation to fund the state courts. The Governor advised that he is “able to release $2 million of the conditional appropriation for FY2014.”

Upon news of the release of funds, Chief Justice Moore sent a memorandum to the officials and employees of the Unified Judicial System, advising that, “We will maintain our current staffing levels and continue our current policy of Wednesday closings in Circuit Clerks’ offices to help ensure that court records are properly and promptly maintained . . .”

Chief Justice Moore thanked the officials and employees of the Unified Judicial System and added, “Better days are on the horizon and we will certainly be looking to increase staffing and obtain merit raises which are long overdue.”

State revenues declined tremendously early in the onset of the Great Recession. Governor Bob Riley (R) and the then Democratic legislative majority were able to delay cutting state expenditures to match revenues by spending reserves funds and taking federal stimulus funds.

That money had all run out by the time Governor Robert Bentley (R) and the Republican Super majority came too power in 2011. Governor Bentley was forced to pro-rate both the General Trust Fund and the Education Trust Funds substantially. The court system was particularly hard hit. The 2012 fiscal year saw more deep cuts to the state court system. Circuit clerks throughout the state were forced to lay off staff.

Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) was elected to head the Alabama Supreme Court and be the head of the court system in November 2012, replacing Bentley appointee Chief Justice Chuck Malone (R). To keep all of the courts staffed, Chief Justice Moore ordered that all of the Circuit Clerks close on Wednesdays so that they would be properly staffed on the other four days a week.

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Chief Justice Moore complained bitterly to the state legislature during preparation of the 2014 fiscal year that the courts are an equal branch of state government and that staffing and funding the court system is necessary both constitutionally and practically since citizens and businesses depend on the state resolving their disputes in a timely manner.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.



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