State/Local Funding

  • The Alabama Judiciary is a state funded system. 
  • The state pays for the Appellate Courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts and for the salaries of trial court judges, support staff and clerical staff.  The state pays for technology equipment and operating expenses for the courts.   Local courthouses and equipment are paid by local funding bodies.
  • The state court system continues to receive various funding from local sources, i.e., county commissions and local legislation.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Alabama’s state general fund appropriation was reduced from $174.5 million in FY12 to $161.4 million in FY13; the percent of the state general fund appropriation allocated to the Judiciary remained declined from 2.05% to 2%.
  • There has been no increase to the level of court fees since 2009.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay relatively the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch does not present the Judiciary’s budget request directly to the Legislative body without prior approval by the Executive Branch.
  • The Judicial Branch has budget authority to manage and administer appropriated funds without restrictions of detailed budget line items.
  • The FY13 budget enables the courts to provide and enhance necessary technology to meet the demands of the public. 
  • An increase in civil filing fees earmarked for the trial courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts was propose for needed enhancements, but the Legislature instead used it to fund the court system.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased while the number of clerical staff persons has decreased. 

Compensation:  Salaries of court staff have been frozen at times over the past four years.

Service Reductions:  

  1. Over the past four years, the Alabama courts have reduced hours of operation, had staff layoffs, delayed filling judicial vacancies and vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.  The courts have delayed or reduced jury trials.
  2. Service reductions have had an impact on court services.  They have resulted in reduced service to the public, limited access to court services and increased delays and backlogs.

Efficiency Measures:  The Alabama courts have implemented and plan in the coming year to continue to implement e-filing, an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system, electronic workflow, e-payment of fees and fines, and a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to records.  All civil cases were mandated to be electronically filed as of October 1, 2012.

Business Processes:  The Alabama courts use videoconferencing of arraignments for incarcerated defendants.

Centralization:  Prior to 2009, the Alabama courts created a centralized call center and a centralized payable center and centralized traffic citation processing.

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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