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Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb warned the state's judges and circuit clerks Monday to expect substantial layoffs because of the budget crisis in the state judicial system.

Cobb met with judges and clerks mostly by conference call Monday. The meeting was not open to news reporters or the public. She said 270 court employees have already lost jobs in the past two years because of budget cuts, and she expects another 265 court workers to be laid off during the coming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Cobb told The Associated Press that she had hoped to receive a $10 million supplemental appropriation from the Legislature to help the courts get through the remainder of the current year. She said that is unlikely now because the money is needed to help with recovery from last month's violent tornadoes that killed more than 200 in Alabama.

She said she doesn't expect to receive the supplemental appropriation and she also believes a bill to raise the state's cigarette tax by $1 a carton is dead for this session. Some proceeds from the cigarette tax were to go to the courts.



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