Circuit clerks’ offices in Alabama will be closed to the public on Wednesdays beginning March 20. Chief Justice Roy Moore sent out an email on March 7th to the clerks spelling out the policy. Scott Hoyem, spokesman for the Administrative Office of Courts, has confirmed the move. Staff in the offices will report to work and won’t see any pay decreases, according to Hoyem. He added:
Closing for one day a week gives the clerks’ offices in the various counties the time to handle the necessary paperwork to keep the court system operating. The offices will be operating. They will just be closed to the public. By making the closing mandatory for one day it gives us a unified court system. Some clerks’ offices are closed now at various times. With this order, a lawyer knows that on Wednesday all clerks’ offices in the state will be closed.
Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb granted clerks the option of closing during the week to help offset layoffs in the court system. It’s quite apparent that the budget problems have been increasing in the court system. Now they have become “chronic,” according to Hoyem. He added:
The chief justice’s order does allow for vital and emergency court filings to take place on Wednesdays. Warrants for arrests and protection from abuse orders are specifically mentioned in the order as things that will be taken care of.
The court system simply can’t operate on a four-day work week. Funding the system adequately, which includes the circuit clerks’ offices, is a constitutional requirement, as we wrote last month. In my opinion, the Legislature can’t refuse to do its mandated job, which means the court system must receive additional funds.
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