AG: Chief probate clerk under board rules

By JAMES PHILLIPS
Posted 3/26/19

The Civil Service Board of Walker County held a special called meeting Friday to announce an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office relating to a personnel issue in the Walker County …

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AG: Chief probate clerk under board rules

Posted

The Civil Service Board of Walker County held a special called meeting Friday to announce an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office relating to a personnel issue in the Walker County Probate Judge’s Office.

The board had asked if the position of chief clerk of the Probate Judge's Office is exempt from civil service rules regarding the hiring, transferring, demotion or firing of county employees.

An opinion was sought because newly-elected Probate Judge Lee Tucker fired then-chief clerk Angela Howard back in January. According to discussion at the meeting Friday, the position is appointed by the probate judge, and Tucker felt that did not fall under civil service rules. Another person has been working in that position since January, according to discussion during the meeting.

Attorney General Steve Marshall returned his opinion early last week to all the interested parties, with the board announcing his opinion publicly on Friday. The entire four-page letter was read, but the conclusion was that the chief clerk position in the probate judge office is not exempt from the rules of the board.

After the ruling was read, board member Eddie Miller motioned to return Howard to her position, and it was seconded, but after discussion, the motion was rescinded, stating that a hearing with both parties needed to be held before a decision was made.

Board members asked if the hearing could be set for Tuesday, April 2, after the group’s next regularly scheduled meeting, which would begin at 5 p.m. Russ Robertson, the board attorney, said there is a 14-day waiting period to set the hearing but that could be waived if both sides agree. Howard was at the meeting and agreed to waive that time period. Tucker was not present at the meeting, but Robertson said he would contact him regarding the request.

“I have not heard back from the judge of probate at this time,” Robertson said on Monday afternoon. “I expect I will hear from him very soon so the hearing can be scheduled.”

While a motion was not needed to set the hearing, the board did approve a motion that anyone filling the chief clerk’s position, even for a temporary time, must be approved by the civil service board. 

“Anybody that is down there is under the provisions of our rules,” Miller said. “In my opinion, I think the guy down there right now is serving illegally, because he has not got any authority given to serve under this board. We have a clear opinion from the attorney general. Whoever is serving in that position, whether it is full time or temporary, has to have approval of this board.”