Alabama's trial courts of general jurisdiction are the Circuit Courts. This court hears all civil matters where the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000, all criminal prosecutions involving felony offenses and family court matters. The Circuit Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the District Court and in all civil matters where the amount in controversy exceeds $3,000 but does not exceed $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs. Additionally, the Circuit Courts exercise appellate jurisdiction over cases appealed from the District Courts, Probate Court, Covington County's Municipal Courts and certain administrative and municipal Boards.
Honorable Lex Short
Honorable Ben Bowen
Alabama's District Courts, generally, have original jurisdiction over criminal misdemeanors, hold preliminary hearings in felony prosecutions, and can receive guilty pleas in felony cases not punishable by death. The two District Judges exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Courts in juvenile matters and in civil actions where the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000; furthermore, the District Judges have exclusive jurisdiction over all civil actions where the amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, does not exceed $3,000, which are considered "small claims cases."
The Circuit Clerk
The Circuit Clerk serves as the chief administrative and fiscal officer for the court system, of the Twenty-eighth Judicial Circuit, at the District Court & Circuit Court level. This elected position was established by the Constitution of Alabama 1901 and is styled as a state officer elected for a six-year term. While the duties of the Circuit Clerk are broad, such responsibilities are enumerated in the general laws of Alabama, codified as the Code of Alabama 1975, and another instrument codified as the Alabama Rules of Court.
Magistrate duties require that Circuit Clerks be available to law enforcement for the issuance of warrants and for the filing of court documents.
Fiscal responsibilities include the management of all court monies requiring such position to serve as the fiduciary manager for the court ordered investment accounts.
Administrative responsibilities include personnel management, court planning, purchasing and inventory control. The Circuit Clerk issues writs and all summonses including jury summonses and witness subpoenas. The Circuit Clerk is responsible for jury management and serves as custodian of all court records, and is responsible for providing access to those court records by court personnel, the legal community and the public.
The Circuit Clerk is also an election official be serving on the Appointing Board and Canvassing Board and, further, serves as Absentee Election Manager. The Circuit Clerk's office in Covington County also serves as Passport Acceptance Agents. The Circuit Clerk's office also prepares appeal transcripts, conducts judicial sales, pre-qualifies and monitors bonding companies and approves Appeal Bonds. In addition, the office is also charged with managing & monitoring the SJIS information at the local level.