Devoted to serving the people of St. Clair County, District Judge Alan Furr views his public role as that of servant, not leader or government official.
“When I was doing an externship for a guy named Clifford Fulford years go, he always said, ‘It’s important for a judge to know he is there to serve, not to be served.’ I see myself as a public servant,” Furr said
Since his appointment by Governor Bentley in October, Furr has handled more than 2800 traffic and District Court criminal cases. Furr presides over one of the state’s District court criminal traffic dockets. “When you have dockets that size, it’s all in how you manage,” Furr said. “You have to divide and conquer.”
The massive caseload has resulted in the beginnings of changes for Furr’s courtroom. “It is my responsibility to be conscious of people’s time,” Furr says, explaining that people are waiting on him and his goal is to serve people by getting them in and out as quickly as possible to avoid wasting an entire day in court. He hopes to run his courtroom efficiently while remaining firm and fair in his decisions for each case.
In January a system will be put into place that allows state troopers to know upcoming dates for traffic dockets and how many people are scheduled on the docket for those dates. On those dates traffic dockets will be divided up so people are not waiting around all day.
“We’ll have two scheduled times, 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The idea behind this set up is that people will only have to spend a maximum of half a day in court,” Furr said.
Once the 9:00 a.m. time maxes out at 250 cases, state troopers will assign cases to the 1:30 p.m. docket. Furr hopes the new setup will allow him to handle more cases per day. He also plans to divide caseloads so that those that aren’t as serious, like paying a ticket for example, can sign a list and go pay the ticket. This will free up time for more serious cases that must be heard.
Furr also presides over St. Clair County’s Juvenile Delinquency/CHINS cases and the Juvenile Drug Court. He handles one-fourth of the divorce cases filed in the county. Presiding Circuit Judge Jim Hill recently assigned Furr to handle all of the domestic violence cases filed in St. Clair County.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better person to fill the role he does in his service to St. Clair County,” Judge Hill said.
Devoted to a passion of helping the youth of St. Clair County create brighter futures, Furr is also making changes to the juvenile courts. Furr recently spent time in Shelby County in Judge Cramer’s courtroom, observing how he handled juvenile court. “We always have room for improvement,” Furr said.
Furr plans to meet with his staff before Christmas to discuss future changes. “We need to teach young people that dependence on alcohol and drugs is not healthy, but in order to do that, we must address how we affect change. We have to look at programs that are centered around changing their mindset,” Furr said. “If we can’t change the mindset, we can’t affect change in behavior.”
In January Furr and his staff plan to implement a program that is centered on individual and family counseling and focuses on behaviors and attitudes. Counseling sessions will be scheduled on a weekly basis the number of sessions will decreases as time passes and there is evidence of gradual changes in behavior. If a kid messes up, he/she will be sanctioned.
“Right now we are brainstorming a list of possible sanctions, Furr said, “But we also want to provide incentive for good behavior. We’re going to look at rewards that give kids a reason to do well. If you can reach a person when they’re young, there is a better chance of molding and changing behavior.”
Furr filed his qualifying paperwork with the Alabama Republican Party and will be on the ballot for the March 13, 2012 Republican Primary.