Alabama courts cut employees, more cuts possible

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Courts around Alabama announced plans Monday to cut 100 temporary employees with worries of more cuts if proration becomes a reality.

The courts announced Monday they would lay off 100 temporary employees.  However, judges and court officials worried more cuts could affect security. Right now, most courtrooms have one baliff, but if proration forces the court system to layoff hundreds more employees, judges say they are concerned security might suffer.

"The first time somebody gets killed outside this courtroom or in this courthouse then people will realize that they shouldn't be cutting these baliffs," Judge Shelly Watkins said.

Watkins says he handled about 30,000 cases last year, including those involving hundreds of accused murderers, rapists, robbers and other serious criminals.  With that number of cases, Watkins said he knows he cannoot afford to lose any of his three employees.  

"It's not going to work," Watkins said. "I don't mind working extra, I may have to be putting files together in my courtroom... but it just won't work."

Presiding Jefferson County Judge Scott Vowell said if proration becomes a reality in the court system, layoffs will happen.

"Were down to the bare bones now," Vowell said.

Vowell adds financial help from Jefferson County is no longer an option.

"We were able to turn to the county," Vowell said. "Obviously, that's not a viable source of aid anymore."

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