Alabama’s court system plans to lay off up to 500 of its 1,600 judicial employees by Nov. 28, the Birmingham News reports. “I am concerned with the plight of the court system. I am concerned with the uncertainty that our employees are going through,” said Jefferson County District Judge Pete Johnson.
David Williams, the court system’s public information officer, said all bailiffs statewide most entire staffs in court administrator offices would be cut. One court administrator in each office will stay on the job; those offices help manage jury trials and send out summonses.
Presiding Circuit Criminal Judge Mike McCormick said courts will not be able to function if bailiffs are eliminated. “We won’t have sufficient administrative staff in order to carry on court,” McCormick said. “They are not just sitting around the courtroom providing security. They are multi-task people. If we lose them we won’t have the majority of our staff left.”
Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford said the county could consider providing $1 million to provide money for bailiffs. “We aren’t going to sit and let the courts and jury trials shut down,” he said.
The news sent some courthouse employees into a panic, with some looking elsewhere for employment.
Williams said the only way to comply with reductions in the state budget–the courts are $12 million short–was to cut people from a system that is 95 percent personnel.