Circuit court clerk’s office to close on Wednesdays

The Chilton County Circuit Court Clerk’s office will be closed to the public on Wednesdays effective March 20, the latest step in the state’s effort to deal with dwindling funds and increased case loads.

Local Circuit Court Clerk Glenn McGriff, like others in his position across the state, received an administrative order signed by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore spelling out the reasons behind the decision.

The order blames the “chronic and substantial lack of adequate funding of the Judicial Branch” for resulting in a net loss of 498 employees since 2001. Most of those losses have been in court clerk’s offices.

McGriff said staff losses have made it more difficult for his six employees–five “merit paid” employees who receive benefits and one employee paid for out of McGriff’s discretionary funds who does not receive benefits–to perform their job duties, which relate to custody matters, child support, divorce, evictions and small claims, among others.

Circuit court clerk employees will work regular hours on Wednesdays, but they will not answer phones or help residents who visit their office at the Chilton County Courthouse.

McGriff said the measure is an effort to give court clerks time to focus on their workload without distraction.

“When we’re open to the public, we can’t even answer all the phones,” McGriff said. “My people are doing all they can do. I hate it for the public. I know it’s going to be a little bit of an inconvenience.”

The office will be open to the public from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week, with the exception of being closed for lunch from noon until 1 p.m. each day.

Then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb issued an order last year to reduce hours, and McGriff’s office cut back by opening one hour later and closing one hour earlier three days a week, and also closing at noon on Wednesdays.

McGriff said his office’s services are important to residents, especially with the case load increasing in recent years.

“Law enforcement officers do their jobs arresting people, but you can’t get [criminals] to court, before the judge, if we can’t get our paperwork in, then they’re going to be walking the streets.

“This office affects a lot of people. If you have a mother who can’t get her child support check…you’re affecting people’s income, their way of life.”

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