Leaders of Alabama’s appellate courts told a legislative panel last month that the state’s judicial system needs more funding. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Mary Becker Windom and Court of Civil Appeals Presiding Judge William Thompson spoke to the Joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee getting ready for the legislative session which begins on February 5th. Chief Justice Moore told the panel:
I can make it simple. We need money. We are not an agency. We’re a branch of government. We depend on your allocation for money. As I’ve traveled around the state we’ve gone to different courts and seen the different clerk’s offices. We’re below 50 percent staffing. We’ve got more empty seats than filled seats. I’ve seen judges actually answering the phones.
Chief Justice Moore quoted from an article in The Alabama Lawyer that said funding of the judicial branch has declined more steeply than funding for the legislative and executive branches since 2008. That is absolutely correct. Also, the Chief Justice is correct in his assessment of the need for funds. Every judicial circuit in the state is grossly underfunded and short on personnel. The needs of Alabama citizens are not being met, through no fault of the judges and circuit clerks. Gov. Robert Bentley and the legislature must address this problem.
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