House to address legislation hiring more judges on Tuesday | #elections | #alabama

On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives will consider legislation adding new judges to reduce the dockets in Alabama’s fastest-growing judicial circuits.

Senate Bill 39 (SB39)is sponsored by State Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville).

SB39 is the first item on the House’s proposed special order calendar for Tuesday.

The version of the legislation that passed the Senate would add four additional circuit judgeships in the 23rd Circuit (Madison County), the 28th (Baldwin County), the 19th (Autauga, Chilton, and Elmore counties), and the 37th (Lee) as well as three additional district judgeships in Baldwin, Mobile, and DeKalb counties.

SB39 would also put a moratorium on the reallocation of judges until 2027. The reallocation of judgeships from stagnant parts of the state like Birmingham, Montgomery, and the Black Belt to growing, prosperous areas of the state like Baldwin, Madison, Shelby, Lee, and Elmore counties is very controversial for the areas that would lose those judgeships. The legislature established a reallocation commission in 2015, but the courts have not reallocated judgeships as the legislature had intended.

The new judgeships would be filled by elections in 2024, with the new judges going into office in the second week of January 2025.

According to the fiscal note, passage of SB39 will cost the state $2.1 million in 2025 and at least $2.9 million a year beyond that. The effect on the SGF will be $1.9 million in FY2025 and $2.5 million in FY2026 and beyond.

The new circuit judge in the 19th circuit may reside in any county within the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (Chilton, Autauga, or Elmore counties) and shall be assigned to the domestic relations division of the circuit.

SB39 also orders the Administrative Office of Courts to provide an annual report on the caseload statistics for each fiscal year by circuit. The legislation passed the Alabama Senate in a vote of 33 to 0.

Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) previously told Alabama Today that he and the House favored legislation addressing the state’s judge shortage.

Overcrowded dockets mean that jury trials are often delayed for months denying victims justice, leaving business disputes unsettled for years, tying up estates, delaying final determinations in child custody cases, and making it difficult to live and do business in the state of Alabama.

Tuesday will be day 24 of the 2023 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. The House convenes at 1:00 p.m., and the Senate convenes at noon.

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