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Study for the Birmingham (AL) Municipal Court

NCJ Number
Date Published
311 pages
Findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the National Center for State Courts' study of the Birmingham Municipal Court of Birmingham, Ala., are presented.
The court is one of limited jurisdiction and exercises exclusive jurisdiction over all prosecutions for the breach of ordinances of the municipality occurring within its police jurisdiction. It also exercises concurrent jurisdiction with the district court for violations of State law occurring within the municipality's police jurisdiction. The court is staffed by approximately 35 employees. The court is a high-volume operation, with many and varied problems. Recommendations stipulated herein are designed to improve court efficiency. It is recommended that established dispute resolution techniques be followed with regard to neighborhood conciliation centers. Mediators should be required to participate in training sessions as a condition of their employment. Regarding judicial compensation and education, judicial compensation and benefits should be reviewed and adjusted periodically by the mayor and city council. Staff utilization efforts should focus on renewal of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) commitments or permanent budgeting for the six positions now at issue. The court division should institute a lead worker position, institute two file clerk positions, and improve courtroom service and security through the addition of personnel. The citation division should clarify employee responsibilities and institute an additional keypunch operator position. The court should establish uniform procedures for court operation and equalize distribution of the judicial workload. Records management operations would be improved by locating all files in one area, by using only flat filing folders for all case documents, and by filing by case number rather than by individual. Footnotes and attachments are provided in the study.