Fee on court papers is a good idea for county

Published 1:49 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

By Staff
Some lawsuits have merit, are necessary, and some aren't. But no matter the breakdown between "good" and "bad" civil court proceedings, it seems that our American society grows more and more litigious everyday. For some, the idea of filing a lawsuit against another person or entity is so natural it seems as though they must have their phones programmed to "speed-dial" an attorney at the drop of a hat.
For most people, it means little, at least directly. Fortunately, the lucky majority of citizens, in Escambia County and elsewhere, want nothing to do with the inside of a courtroom, and won't ever have to experience that environment, at least not in a contentious setting.
But as long as there are lawsuits being filed, in volume, why not use that to try and do some good? That's what the Sheriff's Office is in the process of doing with its plan to add a $15 fee to each set of civil papers deputies have to serve parties involved in lawsuits in the county. Sheriff Grover Smith estimates that the $15 fee on court documents that go through his office would generate between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, enough to hire a full-time deputy to carry out process service duties.
That would free up other deputies for patrol, allowing the office to respond more quickly when people are in need of assistance. It would also provide funding for needed technological upgrades within the Sheriff's Office.
The plan has garnered the support of the County Commission, and Smith believes he has enough backing from area lawmakers for it be brought before the State Legislature next February. Here's hoping he's right.
We like this idea. It shows creative thinking on Smith's part, something he deserves recognition for. Money for things like new officers is in short supply, and taking a route like this to find needed funding shows creativity and initiative.
We encourage Smith to keep pushing for this, and ask those whose help he'll need to work with him.

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