Circuit courts prepare for cutbacks

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Circuit Courts have been officially notified about layoffs that take effect at the end of next month.  More than 250 county courts employees across the state will be losing their jobs.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Florence Cauthen told WSFA 12 News, the office's 35 employees were barely enough to keep up with the work load, now she's losing 12 more positions due to state budget cuts.

The volume of work isn't going to go away, but the people who are here to handle it will be going away," Cauthen said.

Court clerks from across the state say once the layoffs take effect, it could take a lot longer for things like traffic tickets and even divorces to process.

Divorce attorney Melissa Issak said she's already seeing a backlog before the deeper cuts take effect.  She said the cutbacks could place an added strain on families going through divorces and custody issues.

"It's even hard to get emergency hearings scheduled, so when you're dealing cases that aren't resolved for a year down the road, you're dealing with school issues, custody issues and all that and it's a year before it's resolved," Issak said.

Cauthen is preaching patience.

"We're reshuffling, we're trying to look at how we do our jobs everyday and try to find a more efficient way to do this," Cauthen said.

Cauthen said Montgomery County hopes to establish a website for the court soon, so some items could be processed online, instead of in-person.

Cauthen said she hopes her office doesn't have to close one or two days a week.  That's an option being considered by other court clerks across the state.

"We'll try to distribute duties as well as we can," said Jamie Scarbrough, the Pike County Circuit Court Clerk.   "If it gets unbearable, we don't have an option."

Pike County will only have four employees to process a caseload of more than 10,000.  The layoffs take effect August 31st.

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