MONTGOMERY — While many courthouses throughout the state are shuttering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Courts in Alabama remain open for business.
Leaders of the Alabama State Bar are working in close coordination with the Supreme Court of Alabama, the Administrative Office of Courts, and the Circuit and District Judges Associations. Access to justice and the court system in Alabama has not changed as a result of the closure of courthouse facilities.
“As Coffee County Bar President, I think it is important for people to know that even though there have been some changes to how things are operating during these unprecedented times, the court system is still open,” attorney James Tarbox of Marsh & Cotter, LLP, said Thursday.
“This situation and the orders from the Supreme Court of Alabama have not altered filing deadlines and statutes of limitations. People’s legal rights could be adversely affected if they are not properly advised during this time.”
Although the public has been prohibited from coming to some courtrooms, the business of the judicial branch continues in a variety of innovative ways.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker has assembled appropriate staff members to implement systems that keep the public safe while also allowing judges continue to keep the legal process working for the people of Alabama.
“Judges, court personnel and lawyers continue to work on behalf of the public we serve to move cases in an efficient and safe manner by phone and videoconferencing technology,” Parker said.
Alabama State Bar President Christy Crow, in partnership with judicial leaders in Alabama, sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday, writing in part, “The ability of the courts to continue to provide justice during these uncertain and trying times is essential to public safety and the welfare of Alabama citizens and businesses.”
“We are working diligently to ensure lawyers in Alabama can continue to provide necessary legal services to Alabamians,” Crow added.
Judge Teresa T. Pulliam, President of the Alabama Circuit Judges Association, and Judge Carole Medley, President of the Alabama District Judges Association wrote in a joint statement, “Please know that providing access to justice and the protection of the legal profession will continue to be our priority. We will continue to discharge our duty to the public we serve by being accessible by phone, email, teleconference and video conference.
“In the criminal courts, judges, district attorneys and lawyers are working together to ensure the safety of victims and the public while guaranteeing and protecting the constitutional rights of the accused. Emergency hearings are being handled on a case by case basis and in person when needed, as set out by the Supreme Court.”
Tarbox said Coffee County attorneys are still working and are prepared to assist clients while following applicable CDC and ADPH guidelines and recommendations. Telephone or email are recommended for legal issues or questions.
“The motto of the Alabama State Bar is ‘Lawyers Render Service,’” Tarbox said. “Here in Coffee County, our attorneys stand ready to answer the call, render service, and ensure that the legal rights of all are protected in this time.”