A New Era of Access with Judge J C Love

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By Mikala McCurry, Journalist

Judge J C Love was born and raised in Montgomery, AL. He calls himself a “proud product” of the Montgomery Public School system, attending Brewbaker Elementary, Baldwin Middle Magnet School, and graduating from Jefferson Davis High School. Judge Love attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Judge Love also attended Boston College Law School and graduated from there in 2004. After law school, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he began his legal career.

After the 2019 mayoral elections in Montgomery, AL, Judge Love went back to resume his law practice. A number of people came back to him and asked him to consider running for probate judge and thought that he had something to offer in the position. As he thought about what the job did, he looked at some ways they could use technology to make things more accessible to people. He put his name forward, and the government selected him to be probate judge for the Montgomery County Probate Court.

On November 15, 2019, Governor Kay Ivey appointed J C Love, III as the 10th Probate Court Judge for Montgomery County. Judge Love is the court’s second African American judge and the first licensed attorney since former Probate Court Judge Perry O. Hooper, Sr. (1965 – 1974).

“I am really appreciative of the opportunity to serve Montgomery County as a Probate Court Judge,” Judge Love said. “My goal really in this office is to ensure that the residents of Montgomery County have the best equipped, best staffed, and best run probate court not only in the area but in the state and hopefully becoming one of the leaders in the country.”

The Montgomery County Probate Court provides several services, such as adoption of name changes, renewing mobile vehicle tags and drivers licenses as well as overseeing county elections. They also have a real estate portion to file deeds and real estate documents and issue marriage and business licenses. “We touch pretty much every facet of life here in the county.”

One of the main factors that affected the probate courts this past year was the COVID-19 pandemic. When forced to close for 6 weeks, they had to figure out how to still allow people to handle their business with the probate office. Initially, individuals were able to go online to access several services offered by the probate office. “We realized, especially with MPS, that a lot of people in Montgomery County don’t have computers in their homes or access to the internet,” Judge Love said. “But we realized that almost everyone has a cellphone, and 80% of people with cellphones use it as their primary mode of communication.”

From this discovery, the probate office developed a mobile app that allows people to perform virtually any service that they’d need to perform at the probate office from their cellular device. “You can register to vote and find your polling place. You can renew your driver’s license and tags. You can look at real estate records and can also check in on the app to receive services available if you physically want to go to one of our offices.”

The Probate Court is also working on advancements in relation to elections. “We’re fortunate to get a $770,000 grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life for helping with free and fair elections,” Judge Love said. “With that, we’ve made a significant investment in newer, more modern election equipment.” Going forward in elections, some voters will now have the option to use some of the touch screen voting machines at each precinct, similar to the machines that have been used in other states. This provides a different alternative to the standard paper voting. The probate office has also received a new van to transport materials and supplies to the precincts for election days.

With more people being remote during the pandemic, the probate court is working aggressively to get information out to people on what they need to know in regard to the probate courts’ initiatives. They are using several communication channels, such as social media, radio advertising, and television commercials to get information out.

“Essentially, we use technology to get rid of people having to wait in lines,” Judge Love said. “We’ve even been able to do weddings and hearings using technology, such as Microsoft Teams.”

For 2021, the probate court is working on a project with the Supreme Court for an e-filing system. “We’ll be the first probate court in the state to be on the AlaFile system, which is what the state court systems have used for about 15 years.” The Montgomery County Probate Court is also working with the Governor’s Office and the Department of Revenue on a mobile kiosk project to have kiosks available to allow people to renew their tags without having to come into a probate office. The probate office is also moving in new election equipment to enhance the election experience in Montgomery County. “What we’re really doing is continuing this process of ensuring that we are providing the people of Montgomery County the best service possible in a very efficient and very economical way.”

Judge Love stresses accessibility and customer service in the probate office. “I think you’re going to see us be more visible with voter education and letting people know about the process and encouraging people to participate in the process,” Judge Love said. “ We want every person who wants to cast a ballot to be able to do so.” He wants to make sure that every person who interacts with the probate office leaves having a good experience. “If not, that’s something that I want to know.”

The Montgomery Probate Office is currently in the process of developing a standalone website, which will be www.MontgomeryProbateCourtAL.gov. The election center website will also change from mc-ala.org to http://MontgomeryVotesAL.gov. You can reach the probate office at (334) 832-1241. You can also reach Judge Love directly at [email protected]

All rights reserved, Gumptown Magazine. Copyright 2021.

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