Alabama Legislative Year in Review: Court funding, protection of judges and other court officials from false liens

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the Alabama legislature in 2012 include the following:

Alabama HB 14 ORIGINAL: Authorizes the presiding judge of a circuit court to authorize motion hearings in civil matters to be conducted by telephone or other audio-video telecommunications means. AMENDED: Expands use to district courts and criminal matters as well.

Alabama HB 17 Allows a judge or other public servant to request to remove a false instrument that has been filed against the public servant to be removed to circuit court and be expedited.

Alabama HB 99 Makes it a crime to act, without authority, as a judge, magistrate, hearing officer, juror, clerk of court, or any other official with the authority to adjudicate the rights or interests of another, or to sign a document in this capacity as if authorized by state law.

Alabama HB 688 Increases docket fees in all civil cases in the circuit and district courts excluding child support cases and in all criminal cases in the circuit, district, and municipal courts. Provides for distribution of the funds into State Judicial Administration Fund, Circuit Clerk’s Judicial Administration Fund, and Presiding Circuit Judge’s Judicial Administration Fund.

Alabama SB 47 ORIGINAL: Requires Supreme Court create rules for expedition of civil cases where damages are less than $100,000. CONFERENCE COMMITTEE: Same, but for cases less than $50,000. Expressly exempts domestic relations, family law, property law, and tax law from program.

Alabama SB 138 Allows a former or retired judge with certain qualifications to preside over cases in a circuit or district court.