- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A state audit accused the Alabama Supreme Court of years of sloppy financial practices, including leaving thousands of dollars in checks uncashed and underpaying its own members.

The report, released by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts this month, said the clerk’s office failed to deposit $61,050 in checks from October 2009 through September 2013.

A former court worker has reimbursed the court more than $15,000, the audit said, and other missing checks were deposited.

Reported Tuesday by WSFA-TV (http://bit.ly/1x49rzY ), the audit also said the court underpaid its own justices by about $39,213 dating back to 2004 because a raise wasn’t implemented correctly.

The audit did not identify the justices but said two remain on the all-Republican, nine-member court, and one is retired. One justice was shorted $17,651; another was underpaid by $16,394; and the third was underpaid by $5,168, according to the report.

At one point last year the court owed the state treasurer $465,543 and owed the Supreme Court Library $4,455, but those amounts have since been repaid, the audit said.

The court takes in checks as it collects docket fees that must be paid to file cases, and it also makes money by issuing certificates to attorneys to practice before the court and by selling copies of court documents.

Current Chief Justice Roy Moore requested the audit shortly after taking office in January 2013. Moore said the court currently is operating “at a highly efficient level, disposing of 143 more cases on our docket than were filed in the past year ….”

A former assistant clerk reimbursed the court $15,350 on Oct. 29, and current staff located another $45,700 in undeposited checks, the audit said.

The Supreme Court routinely failed to make deposits and reconcile its two checking accounts for four years ending in 2013, the audit said.

“Performed correctly, monthly bank reconciliations allow entities to compare their accounting and banking records in order to expose any discrepancies. Not performing regular bank reconciliations increases the possibility of undetected loss due to error or theft,” the examiner report said.

Checks are now deposited regularly, examiners said.

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