Jefferson County judges in the Bessemer cutoff say they will continue to serve the justice system even if they have to close their courtrooms.
Monday, Jefferson County Commissioners voted to close all county courthouses and the county jail. The county is trying to renegotiate lower leases with Ambac Assurance Corporation. If the courthouses close, those standing in line for car tags and driver licenses will have go to downtown Birmingham.
Tuesday, Jefferson County judges and other county officials were informed of the possible closure and move.
"We want to assure the public we are going to have court. We will make arrangements if we have to go to Birmingham," Teresa Petelos, the presiding court judge for the Bessemer cutoff said.
According to presiding court judge for Jefferson County, Scott Vowell, there are serious legal questions about the closure.
"I'm not at all sure the legal position of the county, if they have a legal right to shut the courthouse down," Vowell said.
Vowell has asked the Administrative Office of Courts and the Attorney General's office to look into the law which created the Bessemer Cutoff for courts and other county office to see if they can be moved to Birmingham.
Meanwhile over the at the Bright Star Restaurant, there is a big concern about the loss of customers and the impact on downtown businesses.
"It will be a shock to downtown Bessemer. The courthouse is a big vital place. People come from all over to pay their car tags, their taxes and everything," Jimmy Koikos, owner said.
"I think it will be a disaster for everyone in the cutoff area. I know we live in McCalla. We use the courthouse regularly," Rick House of McCalla said.
"Close my eyes and pray. That is all I can really do. I won't know anything else to do," Fairfield resident JoAnna Little said.
If there is no new deal with Ambac Assurance Corp. by Sept. 30 the buildings will shut down.
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