By Greene Co.District Judge
There have been many rumors and statements made regarding the numerous driver license suspensions issued in Greene County over the last month. I normally do not respond to newspaper articles or TV statements, however, my mother always taught me that when someone deliberately calls your integrity into question or blatantly lies on you, not only do you have a right to respond but a duty to respond.
This statement is basically to explain why the suspensions took place and the procedure that should have been followed by the Greene County Clerk’s office regarding traffic citations issued in Greene County.
When a person is given a traffic citation, the officer/trooper writing the ticket will give the individual a court date. The individual will automatically receive a notice of court date by mail. If the person fails to pay the ticket or appear in court on their assigned court date, my policy is to automatically continue the case to the next scheduled traffic court date. The clerk’s office is responsible for issuing a failure to appear notice to the individual notifying them of the new court date.
If the individual fails to appear or pay on the second court date, then their license should be suspended at that time and a warrant issued for the individual’s arrest. For those individuals that received a no insurance citation, no driver’s license in their possession citation, or other citations and they have documents that they would like to submit to the court for review, that information is filed in the clerk’s office. Therefore, it is the clerk’s responsibility to make sure information filed in her office is attached to the individual’s citation and forwarded to my office for review.
If the information is valid, then I will dismiss the citation and forward the ticket back to the Clerk’s office to dispose of the citation in the computer system. If the information is not valid, then the citation is forwarded back to the clerk’s office and it is the clerk’s responsibility to send the individual a cost bill or a notice to appear on the court’s next scheduled traffic court docket.
The Greene County Clerk was correct in stating “that because of the vast number of outstanding tickets that were pending, I instructed my clerk to suspend licenses as well as issue warrants for all such outstanding tickets.”
These suspensions were done because the Clerk’s office failed to issue the suspensions after being instructed to review the pending list on numerous occasions and because of the uncooperative nature of the clerk’s office, there was an issue with the execution of Greene County warrants issued as a result of the suspensions.
Before the suspensions were issued, I personally asked the employees in the clerk office on several occasions, if there were any documents that had been submitted by individuals that were not attached to the citations and they advised me that everything that had been submitted was attached to the tickets.
My clerk went through all the ticket trays and reviewed each ticket and if there was no documentation attached such as proof of insurance/or valid driver’s license at the time the citation was issued then a suspension and warrant was issued.
The public should understand that these were suspensions that should have occurred from 2008-2011 and should have been done by the Clerk’s office on a monthly basis and not by my clerk.
In compliance with the State of Alabama Time Standards Procedures, a traffic citation should make its complete cycle through the court system within a six month time period. In some instances cases in Greene County were 1,570 days past due.
The Clerk was correct in her statement, that the Clerk’s office is the keeper of all records and documents. I have no control if the clerk’s office fails to file or keep up with documents that individuals say that they submitted to the clerk’s office.
I can only review documents that are forwarded to my office with the citation. An entry typed into the computer by the clerk’s employee does not actually mean that the paperwork was forwarded to my office for me to review.
All documents are filed at the clerk’s office and all payments are received by the Clerk’s office. My suggestion is that when individuals file documents with the clerk’s office that they also have the clerk’s office to stamp a personal copy to be kept with their records.
I was elected by the people of Greene County to this office and I do not take my oath of office or the trust that the citizens of Greene County have placed in me lightly.
As your elected District Judge, I will continue to serve with integrity and perform the job that the people of Greene County elected me to do.
I have an open door policy and if anyone feels that their license has been suspended in error and has documentation to prove the error, please feel free to contact me at the office.
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