Alabama’s administrative director for the Judicial System Dr. Rich Hobson stopped by the Enterprise Rotary Club on Aug. 31 to give an update on the state’s court system and talk about his career thus far.
Hobson – who is an Enterprise native and graduated from Enterprise High School – has more than 30 years of experience in Alabama’s court system and holds a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama. He also formerly served in the U.S. Air Force. Hobson is most known for his time as the administrative director of courts twice before under former Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Hobson also served as Moore’s campaign manager during his run for the U.S. Senate and Hobson himself also ran for Congress. He also formerly worked with Moore at the Foundation for Moral Law. Moore was removed from office twice and both times Hobson was almost immediately fired from his position alongside Moore. However, in 2019 when Justice Tom Parker was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court he once again tapped Hobson to be his administrative director of courts. Hobson joked about being the only administrative director of courts in the country to have served three separate times.
“It’s been a blessing to be back and I am thankful to be there,” Hobson said. “It’s the third time I’ve been the administrator of courts and I’m the only one in the nation that has had that job three times.
“There’s a lady in Florida that had it two times but she wasn’t fired any of those times. She did it the right way and I think she had a party the first time. My goal is to have a party when I leave this time.”
Hobson spoke extensively about the COVID-19 pandemic’s affect on the court system and credited Coffee County Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley was an innovator during that time.
“We’re the court system and so like everyone else in the nation we shut down, right? That is not true,” Hobson said. “The constitution says the courts have to remain open and we did.
“I’m very thankful that we were able to do that and your circuit judge here Judge Jeff Kelley was large and in charge and up front. He was one of the first to do many things during this pandemic. He was one of the first folks in this state to have plexi-glass (installed) in his court room because he knew the courts must remain open. That year he was also the president of the Circuit Judges Association. He was a fantastic leader and is a fantastic leader.”
During Hobson’s previous role as administrator of courts he oversaw the expansion of technology and information services in the state’s court system and Parker stated when hiring Hobson again that would be a big part of his role now.
“Converting from a mainframe to a completely web-based system is a big goal for Chief Justice Parker,” Hobson said. “That is one of the biggest goals for him, so that we can have greater speeds and the system won’t go down as much. We want that to be seamless when we switch over.”
Hobson also spoke about the fact that the Alabama Judicial System laid off more than 400 people in the early 2000s and he said that finally recovering some of those losses is something that Parker is working towards.
“Another big goal for us is to restore what our branch of government has lost,” Hobson said. “We laid off over 400 people (in the 2000s). We’ve gotten very few of those back in the last 20 years.
“There was a time when every judge had a law clerk or court attendant and now they are few and far between that do. That is really good training for an attorney and it’s good for the judges and for 20 years we have missed that in most parts of our state. We’re hoping we can get that back.”
Hobson also spoke about his feelings toward the City of Enterprise and its community and said that Enterprise taught him about work ethic, God and is responsible for his education.
“I’m always reminded of that when I come to Enterprise, because this is where I learned everything,” Hobson emphasized. “I also met my wife here, Susie, and she learned the same things here.
“My kids have turned out great, don’t get me wrong, but I give y’all the credit for that because all of the lessons you taught me and Susie are the lessons we passed on to our kids. You are in a fantastic place every day and it is very easy to take that for granted. I am here to remind you to be proud of where you live because I’m proud that I come from here. The bottom line is God is good to me and he is good to you, too.”
The Enterprise Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Enterprise Country Club.