Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration
Rule 43. Minimum accounting requirements for municipal courts
(A) Internal controls over records and cash. The magistrate or the municipal judge should design a system of internal control over all court records. Those controls should address Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint (“UTTC”) numbers and procedures for accounting for all UTTC numbers. They should also address assignment of case numbers and accounting for all cases and their disposition. The procedures should set out responsibilities of court personnel and segregate duties to the extent possible with the number of employees assigned. The procedures for the internal-control system should be set out in writing.
A similar system of internal control over cash should be designed. This will cover the employees responsible for cash collections, bank deposits, bank reconciliation, posting the accounting records, and making disbursements from the court collections. A policy prohibiting the cashing of personal checks should be established, and controls to prevent deleting or removing postings to the accounting records should be established.
1. CASE NUMBERS – Case numbers should be assigned numerically, in chronological order, in accordance with guidelines from the Administrative Office of Courts. Cases will be assigned case numbers immediately when arrest information or citations are presented to the magistrate or the municipal judge for processing. Case numbers should never be deleted from records or totally removed from the files. If a case is transferred to the circuit clerk, all information should be copied and kept in the case file with a notation that the case was transferred and the date on which the transfer occurred.
2. CASE FILES – Case files that show the style of the case with initial documentation such as an arrest warrant or a copy of a traffic citation must be maintained. The fee sheet must reflect all collections on the particular case and the final disposition of the case.
Under no circumstances should there be gaps in the case file. Any removal of information from the files must be documented.
Cases appearing on the docket should be in numerical and chronological order. Cases that have already been assigned a case number and have been rescheduled should be noted as such. All such items should be documented in the case files.
If the mayor exercises his authority to remit fees and costs that have been imposed by a magistrate or a municipal judge, a copy of the order signed by the person so doing, should be in the case file.
Municipal courts with computerized accounting systems shall maintain the same information as courts with manual accounting records. All information must be accounted for and all court action and payments must be shown along with the magistrate or municipal judge’s orders. Documentation should be kept on hand describing the software and its capabilities. Computer systems should contain sufficient controls to ensure that all data is retained intact and is secure. Measures should be taken to ensure that the computerized system has the capability to generate and print required reports, including reports of deleted or voided items. Language should be included in all contracts for the purchase of software that specifies that the software must meet the minimum accounting requirements.
3. MANUAL RECEIPTS – Manual receipts should be in triplicate and prenumbered. One copy of the receipt will be given to the defendant, one will be placed in the case file, and one will remain in the receipt book.
Computer systems will automatically post the receipt to the daily cash check-up and then to the fee sheet in the case file. With a computer system, a triplicate copy of the receipt is not necessary with flow-through applications. No receipts should be deleted from the system without supervisory approval.
When manual receipts are issued, the receipt must be prenumbered and periodically accounted for. If the court uses a computerized accounting system, the manual receipt should be entered into the computer system and given a new computer-generated receipt number on a timely basis. The manual receipt should reference the computer-receipt number and the computer receipt should reference the manual-receipt number.
All voided receipts must be retained with an explanation for voiding the receipt and referenced to a new receipt number if re-receipted. Voided receipts should be approved by the supervisor where applicable.
MAIL-IN RECEIPTS – A record or log of payments received by mail should be maintained that contains the date received and the receipt number. Otherwise, these payments should be processed in the same manner as other receipts.
DROP BOXES – In situations where drop boxes are in use, procedures should be established to ensure that the payments left in the box are collected and counted, concurrently, by two or more individuals on a daily basis. The amount collected is to be documented in writing, and the documentation signed by these individuals. The municipal clerk should retain this record for audit.
DAILY CASH CHECK-UP – Each clerk must reconcile receipts to the actual cash in the cash drawer at the end of each workday. If the receipts do not equal the amount of the cash in the drawer, then a record must be maintained of the amounts by which the receipts are over or short. These amounts will be used in the bank-reconciliation process. Cash should be deposited daily into the bank.
4. BANK ACCOUNTS – A separate bank account shall be established and maintained for municipal-court receipts. Collections for the municipal court should not be commingled with other funds.
5. CASH (RECEIPTS, DISBURSEMENTS, AND CASH BALANCES) – The cash book should reflect each day’s collections and the proper distribution of the funds collected, amounts over or short, and the actual deposit amount. At the end of the reporting period, all columns of the cash book will be totaled, transmittal reports prepared, and disbursements made to all agencies to which funds are due. In theory, all moneys collected should be disbursed; however, in some instances there will be funds that are not due to be disbursed. Any funds not due to be disbursed should be identified by case number. The court ruling should be cited and the reason for non-disbursement stated.
6. BANK RECONCILIATION – All bank accounts should be reconciled to the cash book at the end of each month. An analysis must be made of any funds remaining on hand by the style of the case, the case number, and the reason for non-remittance. The amounts over or short from the cash book will be used as a reconciling item. Returned checks will also have to be considered.
7. RETURNED-CHECK REGISTER – This register will reflect all checks returned by the bank showing the date of the check, the date returned, the maker of the check, the case number, and the date collected or reinstated to the case fee sheet. The returned-check register must reflect the uncollected balance at the end of each month and be reflected in the analysis of bank overage/(shortage) on the bank reconciliation.
8. CASH BONDS – All cash bonds must be receipted and posted to a cash bond-transaction register that shows the date of the bond, the case number, the person or entity received from, and the bond account. A copy of this receipt must go into the case file. The register will also show the date, the amount, and the check number of all dispositions. Cash bonds should be deposited into a separate bank account. This account must be reconciled monthly with an analysis of all funds on hand.
(B) Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint Forms (Form UTC-1). A permanent record (Form UTC-8, attached to this rule as Appendix A) should be maintained to document the receipt in the police department of all blank UTC-1 Forms by book number. This record should be completed to include the book number, the date received, book starting and the ending number, the name of the officer to whom each book was issued, and the date issued. When all the forms in the book have been used, the officer should return the book, complete with ticket stubs and voided tickets, to the police department for filing. The date the completed book is returned should be recorded on Form UTC-8. The original form should be maintained in the police department in a secure location and a copy should be provided to the municipal clerk.
A permanent record or log (Form UTC-14, attached to this rule as Appendix B) should be maintained that documents the tickets issued by each officer by citation number. This form should be completed by the issuing officer to include the UTTC number, the date issued, the defendant, the offense, the court case number, and the officer’s initials (in/out). Tickets should be listed in numerical order and include the citation number of voided tickets. Also included on this form is the following information to be completed by the clerk responsible for issuing tickets: the book series and number, beginning and ending ticket numbers, the agency name, the officer’s name, the officer’s I.D. number, the date the book was issued and the date the book was completed. This original form should be maintained in the police department in a secure location and a copy should be provided to the municipal clerk.
When an officer transmits to the court UTTC forms that have been issued, he or she should list each ticket in numerical sequence on a UTC Transmittal Form (Form UTC-3, attached to this rule as Appendix C), arrange the tickets (original UTC-1 Forms) in the order that they appear on the Form UTC-3 and submit both copies of this form to the court clerk.
The court clerk should assign a case number to each citation issued on the Form UTC-3, write the case number in the appropriate space on the form, and return the copy to the officer for his or her records.
NOTE: The UTTC Transmittal Forms should then be placed in a permanent record book (a three-ring binder is ideal for this purpose if the holes are punched in the transmittal). The forms should be filed in case numbersequence. The permanent record of UTTC forms received, issued to officers, and received after issuance by the officers, and the permanent record book of UTTC Transmittal Forms should be kept in a secure place.
(C) Parking tickets. The following forms have been designed to provide an accurate record of the parking tickets issued by a municipality and the collection of the related fines. The forms also provide for an accurate accounting of unused and voided parking tickets. All municipalities that issue parking tickets should implement these forms and procedures.
NOTE: Municipalities using an electronic system to issue parking tickets should ensure that the system has the capability of generating reports that provide the required information. These reports should be retained for audit purposes.
Parking Tickets–Receipt and Issue Log (Appendix D) – A record should be maintained to document the receipt in the police department of all blank parking tickets by book number. This record should be completed to include the book number, the date received, book starting and ending number, the name of the officer to whom each book was issued, and the date issued. When all the forms in the book have been used, the officer should return the book, complete with ticket stubs and voided tickets, to the police department for filing. The date the completed book is returned should be recorded and maintained in the police department in a secure location and copy of this information should be provided to the municipal clerk.
Parking Tickets–Ticket Issue Log (Appendix E) – A record should be maintained to document all parking tickets issued by each officer. This record should document the parking ticket number, the date issued, the ticket book number, the vehicle license number, and the violation for which the ticket was issued. The issuing officer should maintain the original form. The report should also list voided tickets by ticket number and the reason the ticket was voided. A duplicate copy should be submitted along with the parking tickets (including voided tickets) to the law-enforcement clerk and a copy should be provided to the municipal clerk.
Ticket Issuance Report – A record should be maintained to summarize the activity of all officers issuing parking tickets on both a daily and monthly basis. The Ticket Issuance Report should contain totals for each day and should be used as a basis for the monthly summary. The law-enforcement clerk should prepare the report using the information documented on the Officer’s Ticket Issue Log as the basis. A copy of these reports should be provided to the municipal clerk.
Parking Tickets–Voided Ticket Report (Appendix F) – A record should be maintained to summarize all tickets voided by an officer on a daily basis. The law-enforcement clerk, using the information contained in the officer’s ticket-issue log, should prepare the voided-ticket report. A copy of this report should be provided to the municipal clerk.
[Adopted eff. 10-1-2002.]
Note from the reporter of decisions: The order adopting Rule 43 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration, effective October 1, 2002, is published in that volume of Alabama Reporter that contains Alabama cases from 819 So.2d.