State of Alabama attempts to collect millions in unpaid court costs

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Nearly 800 defendants were scheduled to appear at the Madison County Courthouse Friday before Judge Karen Hall.

They were called in to pay outstanding debts, including court costs and restitution, totaling between $200 and $500 million.

Randy Hillman, Exec. Dir. of AL District Attorney’s Association, said, “[The defendants] have not responded and refuse to pay them so we are going to let them talk to a judge.”

Senator Arthur Orr agreed.

“We are going to hold them accountable,” he said.

This hearing was part of a statewide effort to collect from those who haven’t paid. Some of them have been living with these debts for years, said Hillman. He says the goal is to motivate them to pay as ordered, and hopefully improve the state’s financial situation in the process.

“When you get them in front of a judge, you make it very real for them,” he said. “They stand the chance of doing to jail for contempt of court for not paying, or having their probation revoked.”

Hillman said these larger hearings have been going on all over the state, and this is the first of many to come.

Senator Orr said it’s all about credibility.

“If they’ve not paid and defendants can walk out and say, ‘Well, I’ll never have to pay that so why bother,’ then that shows a very high disrespect for the law.”

Officials hope this shows Alabamians they can have confidence the courts will carry out what they order.


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