JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Big changes could be coming to Alabama's court system. Some counties need help meeting their case load needs. "The problem occurs in counties where there is a rapid growth in litigation," says Scott Vowell, Presiding Jefferson County Court Judge.
Vowell says the case load is under control in Jefferson County but not elsewhere in Alabama. Vowell and two Jefferson County judges have been appointed to a study committee by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb. The committee will look to consolidate district and circuit courts. They will also look to move judges around the state. "Removing them from circuits where it's not needed and putting them judges in more populous circuits where more help is needed," Vowell said, discussing his new responsibilities.
State Representative John Rogers says the court has to act because the legislature cannot find additional funds for hiring new judge. "None. Slim and none. Slim went to the hospital and is on life support. Therefore none. We don't have the money in this state," Rogers said.
The committee will study the problem and make recommendations to the state legislature in 2011. Then voters may have to vote on the issue. Some expect opposition to this major change. "I think most people feel more comfortable in rural areas where they know the judge, remember him as a lawyer and they would prefer to litigate before him than a judge brought in from another county," Vowell said.
"You are whistling Dixie and I can't whistle. That won't happen," Rogers said.