Ward introduces bill to ease court dockets

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has introduced a bill in the Alabama Legislature that he hopes would ease overcrowded court dockets.

The Private Judges Bill could come up for a vote of the full Senate next week, Ward said.

The bill would allow parties in a civil litigations case—if they both agree—to allow a presiding judge to appoint a retired judge to hear the case.

Such a case could currently take 7-8 months to be heard, Ward said. The hope is that new legislation would allow people who are interested to have their cases heard more quickly, while also relieving court dockets so that all cases are moved up on the list.

Ward said the arrangement would also provide financial relief for the court system, since it would be hearing fewer cases.

If parties agreed to a private judge, they would be responsible for paying fees associated with the hearing, including a $100 administrative fee, half of which would go to the appropriate circuit clerk’s office.

“The fact of the matter is we’re short on revenue and we’re not going to have any increases in revenue anytime soon, and we’ve got to come up with creative solutions to our problems,” Ward said.

Court costs for an arrangement with a private judge would be set by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts.