New Clerk Academy Tallahassee, Florida
Role of the Clerk in the Courts: Honorable Bob Inzer, Clerk and Honorable Don Barbee, Clerk Elect Overview
Objectives • Learn the Role of the Clerk • Get to know the players • Learn the partners in the Court • Review the case types • Be the Custodian of the Record
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • The role of the Clerk is ministerial • The Clerk is an officer of the court and is obliged to comply with the rules of procedure governing duties • The Clerk must keep all papers, exhibits, evidence and other records of the court provided by statute or rule • The Clerk keeps the progress docket • The Clerk keeps the minutes of the Court • The Clerk collects all fines and fees
Partners • Judiciary: State and Circuit • Court Administration • State Attorney • Public Defender • Law Enforcement • State Agencies • DHSMV • FDLE • FDOR • Lawyers and the Florida Bar
Supreme Court Administrative Order Case Types • Felony • Misdemeanor • Domestic Relations/Family • Municipal Ordinance • Circuit Civil • County Ordinance • Probate/Guardianship • County Civil • Mental Health • Small Claims • Guardianship • Traffic Infractions • Delinquency • Criminal Traffic • Dependency • Non Criminal Infraction • Appeals
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • 28.14 Records, judgments, orders, and decrees prior to circuit courts.—All the records, judgments, orders, and decrees of the several circuit courts, in the respective counties, made and entered before July 28th, 1868, shall be taken and held to be the records, judgments, orders, and decrees of the circuit courts as established in said counties July 28th, 1868, and may be amended and enforced according to law and the practice of said courts.
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • 28.13 To keep papers.—The clerk of the circuit court shall keep all papers filed in the clerk’s office with the utmost care and security, arranged in appropriate files (endorsing upon each the time when the same was filed), and shall not permit any attorney or other person to take papers once filed out of the office of the clerk without leave of the court, except as is hereinafter provided by law.
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts 28.211 Clerk to keep docket.—The clerk of the circuit court shall keep a progress docket in which he or she shall note the filing of each pleading, motion, or other paper and any step taken by him or her in connection with each action, appeal, or other proceeding before the court. The clerk may keep separate progress dockets for civil and criminal matters. The clerk shall keep an alphabetical index, direct and inverse, for the docket.
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • 28.223 Probate records; recordation.—(1) The clerk of the circuit shall record all wills and codicils admitted to probate, orders revoking the probate of any wills and codicils, letters of administration, orders affecting or describing real property, final orders, orders of final discharge, and orders of guardianship filed in the clerk’s office. No other petitions, pleadings, papers, or other orders relating to probate matters shall be recorded except on the written direction of the court. The direction may be by incorporation in the order of the words “To be recorded,” or words to that effect. Failure to record an order or a judgment shall not affect its validity.
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts Collect and disburses Court Fines and fees • 28.241 Filing fees for trial and appellate proceedings.—(1) Filing fees are due at the time a party files a pleading to initiate a proceeding or files a pleading for relief. Reopen fees are due at the time a party files a pleading to reopen a proceeding if at least 90 days have elapsed since the filing of a final order or final judgment with the clerk. If a fee is not paid upon the filing of the pleading as required under this section, the clerk shall pursue collection of the fee pursuant to s. 28.246.
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • 28.212 Minutes of court proceedings.—The clerk may keep minutes of court proceedings. The action of the court shall be noted in the minutes, but orders and judgments shall not be recorded in the minutes. • 28.213 Disposal of physical evidence filed as exhibits.—The clerk of any circuit court or county court may dispose of items of physical evidence which have been held as exhibits in excess of 3 years in cases on which no appeal, or collateral attack, is pending or can be made. Items of evidence having no monetary value which are designated by the clerk for removal shall be disposed of as unusable refuse. Items of evidence having a monetary value which are designated for removal by the clerk shall be sold and the revenue placed in the clerk’s general revenue fund.
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • Mortgage and Foreclosure Sales • Keeps Court Registry • Audits Guardianship Reports and Reports to the Court
The Role of the Clerk in the Courts • 28.22205 Electronic filing process.—Each clerk of court shall implement an electronic filing process. The purpose of the electronic filing process is to reduce judicial costs in the office of the clerk and the judiciary, increase timeliness in the processing of cases, and provide the judiciary with case-related information to allow for improved judicial case management. • ……. Revenues provided to counties and the clerk of court under s. 28.24(12)(e) for information technology may also be used to implement electronic filing processes.
Rule 2.420, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration • 1) “Records of the judicial branch” are all records, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received in connection with the transaction of official business by any judicial branch entity and consist of:
Role of the Clerk as Custodian of Court Records • (A) “court records,” which are the contents of the court file, including the progress docket and other similar records generated to document activity in a case, transcripts filed with the clerk, documentary exhibits in the custody of the clerk, and electronic records, videotapes, or stenographic tapes of depositions or other proceedings filed with the clerk, and electronic records, videotapes, or stenographic tapes of court proceedings; and • (B) “administrative records,” which are all other records made or received pursuant to court rule, law, or ordinance, or in connection with the transaction of official business by any judicial branch entity.
Role of the Clerk as Custodian of Court Records • Permanently recorded records means documents that have been microfilmed, optically imaged, or recorded onto an electronic record keeping system… • Court records that have been permanently recorded may be destroyed…by the clerk…after a judgment has become final. • Court records not permanently recorded may be destroyed or disposed of in accordance with schedule in 2.430(c)(1)(2)(3).
Role of the Clerk as Custodian of Court Records Examples: • Traffic Infractions • Misdemeanor Cases • Felony Cases • Probate Guardianship • Juvenile Proceedings • Adoptions • Marriage Dissolutions
Role of the Clerk as Custodian of Court Records Exhibits. Exhibits in criminal proceedings shall be disposed of as provided by law. All other exhibits shall be retained by the clerk until 90 days after a judgment has become final. If an exhibit is not withdrawn pursuant to subdivision (i) within 90 October 23, 2012 Rules of Judicial Administration 82days, the clerk may destroy or dispose of the exhibits after giving the parties or their attorneys of record 30 days’ … Disposition Other Than Destruction. Before destruction or disposition of court records under this rule, any person may apply to the court for an order requiring the clerk to deliver to the applicant the court records that are to be destroyed or disposed of. All parties shall be given notice of the application. The court shall dispose of that court record as appropriate. Release of Court Records. This rule does not limit the power of the court to release exhibits or other parts of court records that are the property of the person or party initially placing the items in the court records. The court may require copies to be substituted as a condition to releasing the court records under this subdivision.
Role of the Clerk as Custodian of Court Records Right to Expunge Records. Nothing in this rule shall affect the power of the court to order records expunged. Sealed Records. No record which has been sealed from public examination by order of court shall be destroyed without hearing after such notice as the court shall require. Destruction of Jury Notes. At the conclusion of the trial and promptly following discharge of the jury, the court shall collect all juror notes and immediately destroy the juror notes.
Key Points to Take Away • The role of the Clerk is in the Constitution and the Statutes • Each county is unique and has unique operations • All counties operate within a circuit
References • Best Practices - Clerk Intranet • Supreme Court Judicial Administration Rule 2.420 • Chapter 28, Florida Statutes