By Jedidiah McKeehan
You may have heard the term “court clerk” at some point and wonder, “What does a court clerk do?” How does someone become a court clerk, anyway?
The courts that have clerks are circuit, general sessions, criminal and juvenile court. In each county there is at least one person who is the elected court clerk. In larger counties, there can be clerks elected for the different courts. In smaller counties, one clerk may be elected to handle all of the courts. The elected court clerk will have a number of deputy court clerks working for them and the number of employees depends on the number of cases that the court hears, aka more work equals more employees.
Their duties are incredibly important and cover a wide range of areas.
The clerk has the responsibility for all administrative functions to support the judges of the courts, keep all the documents pertaining to the courts, collect fees owed to the county through the courts, maintain record books and cases, and the dockets for each of the courts.
The clerk’s staff also processes cases for court hearings, prepares arraignment notices, summons and process and subpoenas as well as issuing jury summons and paying juror fees.
The clerk’s staff is responsible for accepting the filing of lawsuits. After accepting filings, our clerks create case files, and monitor those new cases by accepting additional pleadings and filings, scheduling cases for motions, hearing, and trials and processing and maintaining all orders of the court.
One of the most important functions they do is handle the processing of capias and warrants for individual’s arrest.
If anything happens in the courtroom, whether it’s a defendant not appearing for court, a case against an individual being dismissed, or an individual being released from jail, those records are maintained and entered by the clerk’s office. Obviously, it’s incredibly important that the records of such are accurate.
If the clerk’s office fails to document that you paid off a speeding ticket, the next time you get pulled over, the police could run your record and show that there is a warrant out for your arrest for an unpaid ticket. Then you would end up going to jail because of the failure of someone in the clerk’s office to enter what happened correctly.
Like I said, the job of court clerk is incredibly important.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.