The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 20, 2013

UPDATE: Limestone court hopes to remain open to public Wednesdays

By Jean Cole
For The News Courier

ATHENS — Users of the courts in Limestone County should be able to pay their fines and conduct business as usual on Wednesdays.

Last month, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order allowing all Circuit Court clerks in the state to close their offices to the public on Wednesdays beginning March 20 to give workers more uninterrupted time to handle the workload. State budget cuts over the past few years have left court offices short statewide, but that shortage created even more strain on North Alabama offices where the caseload is higher. At the time, Moore said his order applied to all Circuit Courts unless the presiding judge from a county requested an exception.  Presiding Limestone Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof Jr. sought the exception for several reasons. Circuit Clerk Brad Curnutt was already closing his office to the public five hours a week at lunchtime because he does not have enough staff to cover office duties. Curnutt also believed closing to the public on Wednesdays might inconvenience the public, reduce court revenue and shorten the 14-day appeal window to 13 days, he said.

“Judge Anderson and Judge Batts have misdemeanor dockets on Wednesdays, and most of those people will come right downstairs and pay their fines,” Curnutt said. “So, if we are closed, that will deprive them of an opportunity to pay right then and they will have to come back a different day. That could also cost us a lot of revenue.”

Although court officials had not yet received official word from the chief justice Wednesday, Curnutt believes Moore will grant the court’s request to remain open to the public Wednesdays.

Circuit Court clerks in Morgan and Lawrence counties opted to close their offices to the public on Wednesdays to handle the workload.