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State orders circuit clerk’s offices to close to public each Wednesday

Following an order from Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore last week, all clerks’ offices in the state, including the Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s Office, will be closed to the public every Wednesday starting March 20

According to the order, the offices will be closed to the public but clerk’s office employees will still work normal hours that day.

Moore explained the reasoning for the mandatory closing was to give the short-staffed clerks’ offices across the state a day to catch up on administrative duties.

The order lists a “chronic and substantial lack of adequate funding” that has caused a total of 498 employees to be cut since 2001, leaving most clerks’ offices short-staffed.

As a result, administrative duties build up and cause these clerks’ offices to get behind on necessary paperwork that must be completed.

Moore stated in the order that funding for the state court system was cut $25 million for fiscal year 2013 and that the expected appropriation for the court system for fiscal 2014 will be $16.5 million less than the court system would need.

The Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s Office has seen its share of cuts, and Circuit Clerk Anita Scott said she could see both the good and bad that could come from this mandatory closing.

“When we were notified that Judge Roy Moore was issuing this order to close clerks’ offices every Wednesday, I had mixed emotions about the effect it would have on our community,” Scott said.

“On the one hand, it was good news for us because we would have an entire day that we could devote to getting our work done without interruptions, but it was also disheartening because I know what an inconvenience this will be to our citizens.

“If we could have found a way to leave our office open we would have, but this is one of those things where my hands are tied.

“The chief justice ordered this closing and we are simply following those orders.”

Scott said the goal of her office is always to put the needs of the community first and to provide service in a quick and efficient manner.

Even though the office will be closed to the public each Wednesday, she still hopes this closing can help her and her staff achieve those goals.

“Even though I know it will be very inconvenient at times to have the office closed each Wednesday, fully devoting this day to our administrative duties will allow us to stay on top of our work and get things done more quickly than they would have otherwise,” Scott said.

“In the long run, this will allow us to serve the citizens in a more timely manner and it will hopefully improve the overall convenience we are able to provide.”

Scott said a drop box would be placed outside the office for any paperwork or filings that were time-sensitive.

“We want this to be as easy on our citizens as possible,” she said.

“We will do all we can to make sure we meet any needs that they have.”