150 Ala. court employee layoffs said to be "imminent"

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - 150 state court system employees are in imminent danger of being laid off. The Administrative Director of Courts, Callie T. Dietz, announced Monday "the imminent need to layoff" those employees because of anticipated proration of the General Fund's appropriation for the Unified Judicial System (UJS), and the projected decrease in funding for the court system in the fiscal year 2012 budget.

The court system has 1,560 employees and an additional 580 elected officials and supernumerary judges, clerks and court reporter.

Dietz said the initial layoffs would be effective on May 1 of this year unless additional funding is found to support the UJS for this fiscal year, and above the Governor's recommendation for fiscal year 2012.  If not, Dietz said, additional employees would have to be laid off before the next fiscal year begins on October 1, 2011.

The layoffs effect May 1st would primarily affect employees at the Administrative Office of Courts (AOC), juvenile probation officers, and the staffs of the district and circuit judges, which include law clerks, bailiffs, court attendants, court referees, roving court reporters, administrative assistants, and employees in the court administrator's offices.

Because the employees in the circuit clerk's offices absorbed the majority of the mandated staff reductions over the last several years, and would be required to absorb most of the 2012 fiscal year layoffs should they be required, Dietz said they would not be included in the May 1st layoffs.

Efforts are currently being taken, in consultation with the presiding judges of the state's 41 judicial circuits, to determine exactly which employees will be laid off. Some employees are protected by the state's merit system and are afforded certain procedural protections.

According to Dietz, approximately 85% of the court's budgeted funds are required for personnel-associated costs. "We have already reduced every operating cost that is possible to be cut. Since the court system is a personnel-intensive branch of government, there is nothing else left to be cut, other than jobs," stated Dietz. "We fear that there will be a significant reduction in service to the citizens of the state, and thus a delay in justice."

INFORMATION SOURCE: Administrative Office of Courts

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