Legislators Are Taking From Those Who Can Least Afford ItRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jun 21 2012 11:48 PM
ALABAMA: Today marked the first day new court cost fees went into affect. An action of the Alabama Legislature ( Paul Lee, Donnie Chesteen, Dexter Grimsley, Harri Anne Smith, Billy Beasley and Jimmy Holley are some of the one’s responsible ) which has caused a legal challenge.
This legislation is aimed and designed at those which can least afford it. It is caused because the leadership of this state have mismanaged the finances of this state and gotten the court system into a financial whirlwind.
I have great insight into this legislation because I had the rare opportunity to be involved in some of the negotiated changes. Negotiated changes I thought. They turned out to be flat out bald faced conning lies.
I remember what Randy Hillman, the Director of the Office of Prosecution Services ( District Attorney’s Association ) said is that he will deal straight and can be believed. Then what passed was a con and a lie.
The Court System Issue
We keep hearing from the fat cats in Montgomery about having to lay off Circuit Court Clerks around this state. All the while these fat cats are running their mouths, they have guarded protection, fat salaries and perks, and are not managing the finances of the court system.
Why do we need guards all around the courthouses and Supreme Court building. They are not more important than anyone else in the public, especially the school children? Begin by cutting all of the security persons you have sitting around and driving you around making you look important.
When you have a ticket against you, regardless of your going to court, you are required to pay court costs. In fact, often times the fine for speeding is $ 20.00. The court costs is $ 168.00. You pay court costs regardless if you have a trial or not.
Some judges, NOT BENJAMN LEWIS or DEREK PETERSON, will charge you more money if you have a trial because you made them work. Not any current Judges in this Circuit. However, we have had some that punished you for taking a case to trial.
The court costs are enough to adequately fund the court system. Well, they would be if the legislators did not divide the money for everything but the operation of the court system. They send some of the money to operations that we do not even know what they are.
If the legislators would put the court costs in the court system they could operate. If the fat cats in the State Court System would realize they are not so important and most people could care less about them and do away with all of the protection they think they deserve and put that money into the court system, there would be adequate money to operate the court system.
But they don’t. They have to feel important.
The New Legislation
To get this legislation passed the authors ( some District Attorneys ) performed legalized “quid pro go”, in other words bribery.
This legislation increased court cost fees in civil cases by $ 45.00 and in small claims by $ 15.00.
The legislation increased court cost fees in criminal cases, except juvenile and as further provided in traffic cases, and additional docket fee of $ 40.00, and in traffic cases, but excluding parking violations, an additional docket fee of $ 26.00.
Two dollars ( $ 2.00 ) of the increased docket fee will be distributed to the Police Officer’s Annuity Fund.
Here comes the first quid pro quo ( legalized bribery )
Ten dollars ( $ 10.00 ) of each fee in municipal court shall be retained by the presiding municipal judge or the municipal court clerk for operation of the municipal court.
The Municipal Clerks of this state were opposed to this legislation and fought it. That was until the District Attorney Association and bill author decided to cut them in on the money. Once they gave them a slice of the pie, they supported the legislation.
But this type of bribery is legal when the prosecutors and government does it through legislation.
Then the legislation creates a “State Judicial Administrative Fund” where 2/3 of the docket fee collected is distributed to the fund and used by the Administrative Director of Courts “as determined” by the Administrative Director of Courts for the operation of courts in this state.
Here comes that deal to get the Judges on board
There is established in each Judicial Circuit of this state the “Presiding Circuit Judge’s Administrative Fund” and in each county in this state the “Circuit Clerk’s Judicial Administrative Fund”. One sixth ( 1/6) of the docket fees collected in each circuit is distributed to the Presiding Circuit Judge’s Judicial Administrative Fund and one sixth (1/6) of the docket fees collected is distributed to the Circuit Clerk’s Judicial Administrative Fund.
The money can be used for salaries and benefits of court employees.
And the footnote
The docket fees assessed pursuant to this section shall not be waived or remitted by the court unless all docket fees associated with the case are waived or remitted.
A docket fee of $ 35.00 for each bond executed. Where multiple charges arise out of the same incident, the bond fee shall only be assessed on one charge. Where the charge is NWNI, the fee shall be assessed not more than three times annually.
It was agreed the professional bondsman would have 30 days to collect and pay this fee. Someone pulled one after an agreement and now only gives 2 days to pay the fee. Failure to pay the fee can result in a minimum fine of $ 500.00. The fee must be paid by the person signing the bond.
Here is where the District Attorney Now Has A Conflict of Interest
In a misdemeanor case, a bail bond fee of 3.5% of the total amount of the face value of the bond or $ 100, whichever is greater, but not to exceed $ 450.00 on each offense.
In felony cases, a bail bond fee of 3.5% of the total value of the bond or $ 150.00, whichever is greater, but not to exceed $ 750.00.
Traffic citations the fee is affixed at $ 25.00.
If a person signs a property bond, there is a lien on the persons property until these fees are paid. In other words ( Paul Lee, Donnie Chesteen, Dexter Grimsley, Billy Beasley, Harri Anne Smith, Jimmy Holley), you will have a lien on your property for years and can not re-finance or sell your house until the person is released from prison and pays all of these fines and costs.
Guess Where This Money Goes
Ten percent of the fees collected shall go to the county’s general fund to be earmarked and distributed to the Sheriff’s Fund.
If the bond is executed in a municipality 45% ( that was the quid pro quo) and 45% to the Clerk’s fund and where the District Attorney now has a vested financial interest 45% goes to the Solicitor’s fund.
Other fees $ 21.50 shall go to the county general fund which is earmarked for the Sheriff’s fund, 40% of the remainder to the Court Clerk’s Fund either being Circuit or Municipal, 45% of the remainder to the Solicitor’s Fund ( District Attorney ), 5% to the State General Fund and 10% to the Alabama Department of Forensic Services Trust Fund.
The fees allocated to the Solicitor’s fund ( District Attorney ) shall be expended for the payment of any and all expenses incurred by the District Attorney in the discharge of the duties of the office or for any legitimate law enforcement purposes.
The fees allocated to the Circuit Clerk shall be expended at the discretion of the clerk to support the functions of the office.
The fees allocated to the Sheriff shall be expended at the direction of the Sheriff for the operation of the jail.
There has been a legal challenge filed in Montgomery Circuit Court on this legislation. The legal challenge is set before Judge Price and will take place next Wednesday. The legal challenge is this legislation is unconstitutional.
Some Sheriff’s across the state oppose the legislation. They fear this will backlog the county jails.
Pre-trial, the incarceration of the inmates is the responsibility of the county ( local ) and not the state. This will require counties to increase the size of the jails and staffing of the jails.
Mobile County Sheriff is very opposed to this legislation. Some Sheriff’s like Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson and Henry County Sheriff Will Maddox oppose the legislation.
The Clerk’s Need Money
The Clerk’s need more money. But if legislature would clear up the distribution of the court fees collected and not try to divide them between everyone, give that money to the clerk, they system would have the money to operate.
District Attorney’s Are No Longer About Justice Just Money
This legislation now puts financial gain as the reason for cases. This legislation now puts financial gain as the reason District Attorney’s want higher bonds in cases. The higher the bond the more money they will make.
This case now puts law enforcement as revenue officers.
WARNING ABOUT SIGNING PROPERTY BONDS
If you sign a property bond, you are obligating yourself long after the case is disposed of with a guilty plea or verdict. You will have a lien until the defendant pays all the money. If he is in prison, guess what? The money is not getting paid.
Someone in the Alabama Legislature lied or someone in the Office of Prosecution Services in this state pulled a con. NEVER - EVER trust them!