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Act 2012-266 authorized the appointment of former or retired judges to serve as private judges in certain district and circuit court cases; and to provide that a private judge would receive compensation for his or her service. It was enacted February 7, 2012 by the Legislature of Alabama.
View Signed Copy

Alabama Act 2012-266
Private Judging
(pdf)
 

Alabama Act 2012-266

Private Judging

Title 12, 11A-1 to 11A-8,
Code of Alabama 1975

SB138
135490-3
By Senators Ward, Whatley, and Fielding
RFD: Judiciary
First Read: 07-FEB-12
PFD: 02/02/2012

S8138

ENROLLED, An Act,
To authorize the appointment of former or retired judges to serve as private judges in certain district and circuit court cases; and to provide that a private judge would receive compensation for his or her service.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

    Section 1. As used in this act, "private judge" means a person who is qualified to act as a judge of a case.

    Section 2. (a) Persons who may act as private judges shall:
        (1) Have been, but are not actively serving as, a judge of a district or circuit court and have served in the capacity of judge for at least six consecutive years.
        (2) Be admitted to the practice of law in Alabama.
        (3) Be an active member in good standing of the Alabama State Bar Association.
        (4) Be a resident of Alabama.
        (b) A person may act as a judge of a case under this act only if all of the following occur:
        (1) All parties to the action file a written petition with the circuit clerk of the court in which the action is pending requesting a private judge and naming the person whom the parties wish to have as private judge. The petition shall be accompanied by a form signed by the private judge selected consenting to the appointment.
        (2) The case is one over which the court in which the former judge served would have had subject matter and monetary jurisdiction.
        (3) The case is founded exclusively on domestic relations, contract, tort, or a combination of contract and tort.

   Section 3. (a) A former judge qualified under this
act who wishes to serve as a private judge must register with the Director of the Alabama Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution. The director shall verify that the former judge is qualified to serve as a private judge and shall compile and periodically update a list of registered private judges. The list of registered private judges shall be made available by the center to the public and to all actively serving judges in the state. The center may charge private judges an annual registration fee.
          (b) If the parties to an action wish to have the action heard before a private judge, all parties shall submit to the circuit clerk of the court in which the action is pending a written petition for the appointment of a private judge and consent to appointment from the private judge selected as described in subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of Section 2 of this act.
          (c) The clerk shall forward the petition to the presiding judge of the circuit in which the proceedings are pending who shall verify that the former judge is registered under this section and shall enter an order granting the petition and appointing the private judge selected by the parties.
          (d) The petition for an appointment of a private judge in a proceeding may be filed contemporaneously with the filing of the action or any time after the action has been
filed, but before the beginning of a trial.

      Section 4. (a) A trial conducted by a private judge shall be conducted without a jury.
          (b) A person who serves as a private judge has, for each case the private judge hears, the same powers as the judge of a circuit court in relation to the following:
          (1) Court procedure.
          (2) Deciding the outcome of the case.
          (3) Attendance of witnesses.
          (4) Punishment of contempt.
          (5) Enforcement of orders.
          (6) Administering oaths.
          (7) Giving all necessary certificates for the authentication of the records and proceedings.
          (c) A person appointed as a private judge pursuant to the terms of this act shall have immunity in the same manner and to the same extent as a judge in the state of Alabama.
          (d) All proceedings in an action heard by a private judge are of record and must be:
          (1) Filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county of proper venue under the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure.
          (2) Made available to the public in the same manner as circuit court records.
          (e) The Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply for all actions brought before a private judge. The private judge shall maintain jurisdiction over all matters brought before him or her until the order is deemed final and appealable, as defined by the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. An appeal from an action or a judgment of a private judge may be taken in the same manner as an appeal from the circuit court of the county where the case is filed.

      Section 5. A filing fee of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be required with every petition to appoint a private judge. This one hundred ($100) fee shall be distributed in equal parts to the Administrative Office of Courts and to the office of the clerk of the county in which the case being heard by the private judge is pending. Otherwise, costs in an action brought before a private judge
shall be taxed and distributed in the same manner as costs in the circuit court of the county in which the case is filed.

      Section 6. (a) The clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the case is filed shall provide the same case management services as with any other case filed in the circuit clerk's office. The private judge hearing a case under this act shall have access to all pleadings, docket entries, and other filings as would a judge hearing the case.
(b) The sheriff of the county in which the case is filed shall provide such services related to service of process as for any other case filed in said county.

      Section 7. (a) A case heard by a private judge may be heard:
           (1) At any time.
           (2) At any place in Alabama.
           (b) A private judge under this act shall provide to the clerk of the court in which the case was filed the dates, times, and places of any proceeding that could result in a judgment. The notice shall be provided to the clerk and entered in the clerk's records at least three days before the proceeding is conducted.

      Section 8. Notwithstanding the Rules of Civil Procedure, a private judge may receive compensation for hearing a case in an amount and subject to the terms and conditions agreed to by the private judge and the parties to the case. A contract for the services of a private judge must provide for the payment of the judge's compensation by the parties, the compensation of all personnel, and the costs of all facilities and materials that are used in relation to the case and not otherwise covered.

      Section 9. The provisions of this act are severable. If any part of this act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, that declaration shall not affect the part which remains.

      Section 10. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.

 

Signed Copy of Alabama Act 2012-266

Administrative Directive,
Interim Administrative Procedures Regarding Private Judges