Judge: Open clerk’s offices

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2014

More than a year after Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered circuit clerks offices in Alabama to close their offices to the public on Wednesdays, Moore ordered Monday that they are to reopen beginning July 1.

After ordering the changes in March of 2013, Moore cited funding shortfalls as his main reason for closing the office to the public once a week. Moore said then that the extra time would also allow personnel to catch up on office backlogs.

According to Moore, most state offices have reported significant process in the backlogging effort and presiding judges are saying there are ready to resume normal open-office hours.

In July 2011, then-Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb also allowed circuit clerk office closings in response to significant under-funding during her administration.

Last year, Judge Ashley McKathan said under-funded, under-staffed offices are likely what led Moore to pursue the closings.

“While courts generate a large portion of the state budget, in as far as income is concerned, it is none the less true that the courts are chronically under funded,” McKathan said last March. “The order from the chief justice seems to be an attempt to allow the clerks to get their work done despite the fact that they’re typically under-staffed.”

Moore said Monday that clerks’ offices are still short-handed after more than 200 court specialists were laid off in 2011.