Presiding judges deciding whether to request exemption to closin - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Presiding judges deciding whether to request exemption to closing order

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Jefferson County Court Clerk's offices are operating at approximately 50 percent staffing. (abc3340.com) Jefferson County Court Clerk's offices are operating at approximately 50 percent staffing. (abc3340.com)

Financial woes are forcing the state to reduce public access to circuit clerk offices in Alabama. Citing funding shortfalls to the state's court system, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered that circuit and district clerks' offices to be closed to the public on Wednesdays.

In his order, Justice Moore wrote "the chronic and substantial lack of adequate funding of the Judicial Branch has resulted in myriad problems such as a net loss of 498 employees since 2001."

Clerk's offices are operating at approximately 50 percent staffing or below, according to the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts.

"I think the staff has handled it beautifully," said Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Ann-Marie Adams. "We really have not skipped a beat. How long we can keep this up, I don't know."

The order requires the closings starting March 20 "absent objection and request to this office for exemption by the Presiding Judge of Circuit."

Shelby, Tuscaloosa and St. Clair County plan to close every Wednesday.

In an email, St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Annette Manning wrote: "Without adequate staff, my office cannot keep up with the many and various filings we have to process. The mandatory closing of Circuit and District Clerks' offices throughout the state to the public will give my staff and I, as well as other Circuit Clerks' offices, a full day to focus and work without interruptions on these filings. Interruptions come from individuals at the counter and numerous phone calls."

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