(a) The Advanced Technology and Data Exchange Fund is created in the State Treasury.
(b) The fund shall consist of all monies paid into the State Treasury to the credit of the fund pursuant to Section 12-19-181 or by legislative appropriations, grant, gift, or otherwise.
(c) Monies contained in the Advanced Technology and Data Exchange Fund may be expended to provide for any activities involving the administration of justice including, but not limited to, the following purposes:
(1) Expand methods and means for collection and disbursement of court-ordered monies through the use of credit cards, electronic fund transfers, or other means and provide for electronic transfer of records and storage.
(2) Enhance coordination and sharing of data with local, state, and federal agencies, members of the bar, and the public.
(3) Provide equipment for electronically filing cases.
(4) Improve accountability for case filings and dispositions.
(5) Train and educate employees and officials on the state and municipal levels of the Unified Judicial System regarding legal and administrative policies and procedures and effective usage of the courts' management systems.
(6) Provide education materials including, but not limited to, manuals, forms, handbooks, books, brochures, and technology for legal research and case management for court officials and employees and component groups of the legal community.
(7) Provide staff, services, and equipment required to maintain and expand technological improvements and conduct continuing education and training in these areas.
(8) Pay service charges, electronic transfer fees, or any other transaction costs associated with subdivisions (1) to (7), inclusive.
All such costs shall be paid out of funds appropriated to the Advanced Technology and Data Exchange Fund and shall not reduce amounts due to be distributed to other governmental funds or entities.
(d)(1) Subject to the adoption of uniform rules by the Administrative Office of Courts, the clerks of the circuit and district courts may accept credit cards, charge cards, or debit cards issued from any bank, foreign lender, domestic lender, or credit card bank as defined in Section 5-20-3 for the payment of court costs, fees, fines, forfeitures, judgments, restitution, attorney fees, any monies collected and payable to individuals, businesses or partnerships, or any person or entity or assessments of any kind. Any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the clerk of the court or agent thereof accepting payment as provided for in this subsection shall impose and collect a surcharge or convenience fee in respect of payments made by credit card, charge card, or debit card for any of the above in an amount not exceeding the sum of the following: a. the transaction fee or discount charged by the credit card, charge card, or debit card issuer or processor with respect to such payments; and b. any cost or fee charged with respect to the payments pursuant to agreement between the Administrative Office of Courts and a contracting entity which provides software, support, and management services in connection with the acceptance of payment by credit card, charge card, or debit card by the clerks of the circuit and district courts as provided herein.
(2) The imposition and validity of any surcharges or convenience fees heretofore charged and collected by clerks of the circuit or district courts or their agents prior to June 1, 2014, are hereby ratified and confirmed.
(e) The Administrative Director of Courts or any municipality may contract with any company that issues credit cards to collect and seize credit cards issued by any company that are outdated or otherwise unauthorized. The state or municipality may charge the company a fee for the return of the credit cards. Any fees collected pursuant to this subsection by state courts shall be deposited into the Advanced Technology and Data Exchange Fund and the fees collected by a municipal court shall be deposited into the general fund of the municipality.
(f) Procedures for implementing the provisions of Act 99-427 may be promulgated as Rules of Judicial Administration adopted by the Supreme Court of Alabama.
(g) At the end of any fiscal year, any unexpended or unencumbered monies contributed to or deposited in the fund from any source, except appropriations from other state funds, shall remain in the fund.
(h) The clerk of any court shall not be liable to any person for any action taken pursuant to this section if he or she acts in accordance with the rules adopted by the Administrative Office of Courts.