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Probate judge handles wide variety of duties

Wilcox County’s probate office is housed inside the Greek Revival style courthouse, built in the late 1850s. Once housing all of the court activity in Wilcox County, the second floor is now the public library, though the probate office remains on the first floor.

The probate office itself is small, but it is not without character. Judge Britney Alexander-Jones brings much of that character into the office. Jones-Alexander said she believes in “working smarter, not harder” as she uses that mindset to bring updates. 

Jones-Alexander is a Wilcox County native who attended local public schools and graduated from Wilcox Central. She only lived outside of the county in her years at college. She attended Miles College, receiving her undergraduate degree in criminal justice. She received master’s degrees from Strayer and from Amridge University, and she completed one year at Birmingham School of Law. Jones-Alexander said she hopes to eventually complete her law degree.

Jones-Alexander, the mother of two children, said she truly loves the county and its people. Out of college, she worked at Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office in Selma, Alabama, as a process server for eight years, making the commute from Wilcox County. 

Ready to work closer to home, Jones-Alexander considered running for circuit clerk and for probate judge. She researched the two positions and observed that the probate office was the best place for her to serve and enact change and interact with the people of Wilcox County. “I looked at what office could bring change, and it was the probate office,” she said.  

From dealing with everything from marriages to mental health commitments, Jones-Alexander’s intimate knowledge of Wilcox County and its people both challenges and inspires her. “It becomes challenging, not being able to satisfy everybody,” she said. “I’ve got to keep work and personal separate.” 

Probate judges in Alabama decide legal matters concerning estates, mental commitments, guardianships, and elections. The office also can handle various permits, licenses, and marriages.

For Jones-Alexander, the job of probate judge is truly a hands-on job. One of her biggest duties is helping run the elections. She said she works hard to ensure that the elections in Wilcox County are free, fair, and efficient.

“It can be challenging, but I enjoy it,” she said. Jones-Alexander does not receive help from outside resources and software, saving the county funds but also putting the pressure on herself on election day.  “I am on election day support, and I have a few staff who help me,” she said.

For Jones-Alexander, this can mean making stops at different polling locations on election day and sending her own staff out as support instead of hiring someone from out of town to help. Seemingly simple things like reducing the number of voting machines helped the probate office staff better do their jobs, she said.

Another duty Jones-Alexander enjoys is performing marriage ceremonies. Because of a change in state law, marriages no longer require a ceremony to become official, but only the signing of a certificate. Despite this, Jones-Alexander likes to perform wedding ceremonies for those who would like to do one. Jones-Alexander said, “I enjoy doing the ceremony. A lot of probate judges don’t, but I don’t have a problem with it.” 

She said she hopes to remain in office for a few more terms and wants to continue to serve Wilcox County citizens. “I plan to stay for at least two more terms, and I pray the people feel the same way.” 

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