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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2015

Private Judging pointment. 4. What is the Private Judge’s authority and power? A. The Private Judge has the same powers as the judge of a Circuit Court, as follows: (1) Court procedure; (2) Deciding the outcome of the case; (3) Attendance of witnesses; (4) Punishment for contempt; (5) Enforcement of orders; (6) Administering oaths; (7) Giving necessary certificates for the authentication of the records and proceedings; (8) Vested with judicial immunity; (9) All proceedings shall be of record and filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court; (10) All records shall be public in the same manner as Circuit Court records (unless otherwise ordered). 5. Is the Private Judge’s Order binding and for how long? A. The Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply for all actions before the Private Judge. B. The Judge shall maintain jurisdiction over all matters brought before him or her until the order is deemed final and appealable. C. 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. 6. Court cost and who pays the Private Judge. A. There is a filing fee of $100 that is paid to the Court Clerk at the time the motion to appoint the Private Judge is filed. B. The Private Judge’s compensation is determined by a contract for services between the judge and the parties which shall also include compensation of all personnel, the cost of all facilities and materials that are used in relation to the case not otherwise covered. 7. Does the same law apply to Private Judges as at Court? A. Yes, the Private Judge stands in the same shoes as the Circuit Judge and must uphold the laws of the State of Alabama and its Constitution. 8. If one party wants a Private Judge and the other party does not, can a Private Judge be forced upon them? A. No, both parties must agree to the Private Judge before the appointment is made. 9. What happens if, after the appointment of a Private Judge, one side does not like the rulings? Can they elect to opt out? A. No. As with any other Circuit Judge, one does not have that right. This is known as judge/forum shopping and it is not allowed. B. The rules on this are very specific; adverse rulings alone are not sufficient to remove a properly appointed public or private judge. 10. What are the real advantages of having a Private Judge? A. The specialized expertise of the judge; B. Expediency/matters are heard promptly; C. Cost-effective; D. Timeliness/fewer delays; E. This is the only case the Private Judge is presiding over at the time; F. Timeliness of final orders. 11. Does the Private Judge have a courtroom? A. No assigned courtroom; B. Cases can be tried at any place in Alabama, which may include a county courtroom if available and approved by the Presiding Judge. 12. When will the Private Judge set my case for trial? A. Anytime; All cases are set by the Private Judge or by agreement of the judge and attorneys for the parties. 13. When a Private Judge is requested, will the Assigned Judge of that case get upset? A. No, the request goes to the Presiding Judge, not the Assigned Judge. B. That is one fewer case the Assigned Judge will have on his/her docket. C. Said request for a Private Judge needs to be made timely (not at the last minute) so it does not disrupt the Court calendar. D. A survey of judges supports this concept. Since all Private Judging cases are non-jury, not every set of facts is appropriate for use of a Private Judge. Cost in every case is a consideration, however it has been suggested that, all things considered, said re-assignment to a Private Judge generally saves money and is more timely in its completion. Continued on page 34 Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Fall 2015 17


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2015
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