Auditor Jim Zeigler plays “people’s judge,” hears 29 citizens’ cases against state

State Auditor Jim Zeigler

State auditor Jim Zeigler on Monday personally heard the cases of 29 Alabama residents who have grievances against the state.

The Board of Adjustment, essentially an administrative law court, gives residents the opportunity to have their cases heard.

The little-known body is composed of four officials. Three are elected: the State Auditor, State Treasurer and Secretary of State. The fourth is appointed by the governor, the State Finance Director.

Zeigler was the only one of the four officials composing the BOA to attend the Monday hearings.  The other three officials sent staff employees.

“I felt I should be at the hearings listening to those citizens,” Zeigler said. “I felt like Judge Judy. These were everyday people trying to prove damage from actions of state agencies or employees.”

“It was almost like a county district court hearing a civil or small claims docket,” Zeigler said.

There is no appellate process once a case has been heard by the BOA. So, as on Judge Judy, “the decisions are final.”

One case involved a private property damaged by a state-managed forest fire.

Zeigler told those assembled he found the case compelling because the embers left behind could have set homes afire.

“Only by the grace of God was no one hurt and no homes destroyed,” Zeigler said.

The board will decide all the cases at the next scheduled voting session at 10 a.m. June 17

In other cases Monday, Zeigler heard claims by 29 people  against Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, the Department of Human Resources, and Jacksonville State.