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Dallas County District Clerk

Dallas County District Clerk

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Dallas County District Clerk

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  1. Dallas CountyDistrict Clerk Function of the Office And Information About Its Operations and Responsibilities

  2. Office of the District Clerk • The office of district clerk has been included in every Texas constitution since the Republic. Article 5, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution provides that there shall be a district clerk in each county.

  3. Office of the District Clerk • The district clerk is an elected official who serves a four-year term. If the office becomes vacant, a district court judge appoints a new clerk, who holds office until it is filled by election.

  4. Office of the District Clerk • In a Texas county with multiple District judges such as Dallas County, a replacement is appointed by all the judges by unanimous consent. In the event that the judges cannot agree on a replacement, the Texas Governor shall appoint a new District Clerk.

  5. Duties of the District Clerk • The district clerk provides support for the district courts in each county.

  6. Duties of the District Clerk • The clerk is custodian of all court pleadings and papers that are part of any cause of action, civil or criminal, in the district courts served by the clerk.

  7. Duties of the District Clerk • The district clerk indexes and secures all court records, collects filing fees, and handles funds held in litigation and money awarded to minors.

  8. Duties of the District Clerk • The Texas Constitution also provides that the District Clerk in each Texas county shall be empowered to accept passport applications.

  9. The District Clerk • The current District Clerk is Gary Fitzsimmons who was sworn into office on January 1, 2007. Prior to his election, Mr. Fitzsimmons was a nonprofit administrator specializing in public parks and historic preservation.

  10. The District Clerk • Mr. Jim Hamlin, 1999 - 2006 • Mr. Bill Long, 1983 – 1997 • Mr. T.E. Moore, 1981 - 1982 (appointed) • Mr. Bill Shaw, 1947 - 1980 • Ms. Pearl Smith, 1939 - 1946 • Mr. George Harwood, 1933 -1938

  11. The District Clerk • Ms. Pearl Smith was the first and only woman elected District Clerk in Dallas and the first woman to be elected to a countywide office in Dallas County. She attempted to unseat George Harwood in 1934, and lost. In 1938 she formed “Pearl Smith” Women’s clubs and won.

  12. The District Clerk • Benjamin Long, elected District Clerk in 1867, was prevented from taking office by the Union army after refusing to take the ‘Iron-Clad’ oath. He was later shot to death in a bar room brawl at the site of the Dallas County administration building (old school book depository).

  13. District Clerk Civil • The District Clerk’s office manages judicial process for the 13 statutory civil district courts. In addition, it provides services to two civil associate judges and one permanent visiting judge who presides over the Tax Court.

  14. District Clerk Civil • The civil courts are supported by 29 deputy district clerks and 11 deputy clerks are assigned to support the Tax Court.

  15. District Clerk Civil District Civil Cases Filed 12/06 to 11/07 24,929 new cases 1,772 Injury/damages involving motor vehicle 54 Workers compensation 3,381 Tax cases 4,783 Contracts, accounts & notes 18 Reciprocals 14,921 Other civil cases

  16. District Clerk Family • The District Clerk’s office manages judicial process for the seven statutory family district courts. In addition, it provides services to seven family associate judges, 4 IV-D (child support) courts and the guardian ad litem (GAL) program.

  17. District Clerk Family • The family courts are supported by 15 deputy district clerks while 13 deputy clerks are assigned to support the IV-D courts, and two clerks support the GAL program.

  18. District Clerk Family District Family Cases Filed 12/06 to 11/07 50,772 total dispositions 46,206 pending cases carried forward 12, 296 Divorces 22,890 Other family cases 11,000 (est) IV-D cases

  19. District Clerk Juvenile • The District Clerk’s office manages judicial process for the two statutory juvenile courts. In addition, it provides services to two juvenile associate judges, and collects fines and fees associated with juvenile cases.

  20. District Clerk Juvenile • The juvenile courts are supported by six deputy district clerks while 14 deputy clerks are assigned to support juvenile case records, collections and process.

  21. District Clerk Juvenile District Juvenile Cases Filed 12/06 to 11/07 11,182 including probation revocation 7,268 pending cases carried forward JUVENILE DISPOSITIONS: CINS DELIN TOTAL Under parental care 22 1,916 1,938 Under foster care 1 26 27 Residential facility 8 802 810 Committed to TYC 1 60 61

  22. District Clerk Criminal • The District Clerk’s office manages judicial process for the 18 felony courts. In addition, it provides 24-hour services to the magistrate court located at Lew Sterrett Justice Center.

  23. District Clerk Criminal • The criminal department also provides criminal process services, criminal fine and court cost collections, indictment and appeals process, and manages bond forfeitures.

  24. District Clerk Criminal • The criminal courts are supported by 38 deputy district clerks while 12 deputy clerks are assigned to the magistrate court and work 24-hour shifts.

  25. District Clerk Criminal • There are 14 deputy clerks assigned to criminal process including indictment, expunctions, appeals and bond forfeitures while six deputy clerks are assigned to criminal collections and two clerks manage protective orders exclusively.

  26. District Clerk Criminal • The district clerk is charged with the duty of managing criminal trial court evidence. One clerk is assigned to manage the retention of more than 25 years of evidence.

  27. 105 capital murder 153 murder 3,157 assault 153 sex assaults/adult 120 sex assaults/juv 1,755 robbery 2,591 burglary 3,629 theft 774 auto theft 105 arson 10,438 drug sales 711 drug possession 755 felony DWI 8,558 various felonies District Clerk Criminal Felony Cases Filed from 12/06 to 11/07 32,851 new cases

  28. District Clerk Trust/Acct • Each district and county clerk must maintain a registry of the court to receive payments ordered tendered into the court’s registry. In addition to money, the court may also order property to be held in the court’s registry for the benefit of whomever it is ultimately adjudged to belong.

  29. District Clerk Trust/Acct • The funds held in the registry of court do not belong to the county; rather, they are essentially held in trust by the clerk to satisfy the result of a legal pleading or to await the outcome of a legal proceeding.

  30. District Clerk Trust/Acct • Although the funds in the registry of court are construed as trust funds, the clerk acts only in a custodial capacity in relation to funds held in the registry of court. A clerk is not a trustee for the beneficial owner and does not assume the duties, obligations, or liabilities of a trustee for a beneficial owner.

  31. District Clerk Trust/Acct Registry of the Court • $43,299,339 total funds are currently managed by the district clerk • 90% of all funds are minor trust funds • 10% of funds are interpleader • $33,299,339 funds are currently in investment accounts • $10,000,000 approximately in funds are cash accounts

  32. District Clerk Trust/Acct Registry Policy Changes • The district clerk has directed that funds currently deposited with over 40 different financial institutions are to be consolidated into two different public investment pools except where the rate of return justifies continued investment.

  33. District Clerk Trust/Acct Investment Pools • Government Investment Pool (GIP), or Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP), is a state or local government pool offered to public entities for the investment of public funds. These pools are important investments tools, offering safety with a competitive yield. GIP managers are vested with a public trust that the pool will maintain liquidity, diversity, and follow the investment pool’s guidelines.

  34. District Clerk Records • Local Government Records Act Chapters 201-205 requires that all district clerks establish programs for the efficient and cost-effective management of the records of their offices. It also requires that the records of the office of district clerk be retained for minimum periods of time set by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission before they are eligible for disposal.

  35. District Clerk Records • Any information created or received by a district clerk pursuant to law or in the transaction of public business is a local government record, regardless of whether it is a document, paper, letter, book, map, photograph, sound or video recording, microfilm, magnetic tape, electronic medium, or any other type of information recording medium and regardless of whether it is an open or closed record.

  36. District Clerk Records • Court records in the custody of the district clerk are not subject to the provisions of the Public Information Act (PIA). Access to court records are governed by Rule 12 of the Texas Rules of Judicial Procedure.

  37. District Clerk Records • Rule 12 stipulates that the purpose of the rule is to provide public access to information in the judiciary consistent with the mandates of the Texas Constitution that the public interests are best served by open courts and by an independent judiciary. The rule should be liberally construed to achieve its purpose.

  38. District Clerk Records • Management and administrative documents, email, correspondence and other budget materials are all public record and covered by the PIA.

  39. District Clerk Records • Records department manages case files on site and at the Dallas County records warehouse. Civil paper records from 2002 to present – 60,00 Civil microfilm records from 1979 to 1994 – 150,000 Family paper records from 1995 to present – 260,000

  40. District Clerk Records • Records department employs 43 deputies and handle both civil, family and criminal records. In addition, 13 deputies are currently assigned to the records imaging project.

  41. District Clerk- Passports 2007 Accomplishments • Received “Best of Dallas” award for Best Public office in Dallas • Handled 260% increase in new applicants with existing staff • Opened East Dallas office an additional day, from three to four • Added bilingual staff to North and East Dallas offices

  42. District Clerk - Passports

  43. District Clerk - Passports 2008 Goals • All three offices open five days a week • Saturday openings for at least one office • Accept credit card payments • Add bilingual staff to Downtown office • Upgrade computers and printers

  44. Paper-Less Courts Project Going Digital • Complete Family Courts Imaging project • Commence Civil/Tax Courts Imaging project • Integrate Texas online E-filing with Odyssey Case Management system • Support the development of Information Technology plan for Juvenile Courts • Support implementation of Juvenile Case Management system • Provide filing forms and instructions via District Clerk website

  45. Office of the District Clerk George Allen Courts Building 600 Commerce St. Civil/Family Filing Desk (first floor) open 8 am to 6 pm Other departments open 8 am – 4:30 pm Frank Crowley Courthouse 133 N. Industrial Offices open 8 am – 4:30 pm Clerks office closed noon – 1 pm for lunch Henry Wade Juvenile Center 2600 Lone Star Dr. Office open 8 am – 4:30 pm Closed noon – 1 pm for lunch

  46. Office of the District Clerk Passport Office Downtown George Allen Courts Building 600 Commerce St. 8:30 am – 4 pm Monday-Friday East Dallas Government Center 3443 St. Francis 7:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Thursday North Dallas Government Center 10056 Marsh Lane, Suite 137 7:30 am – 4:30 pm Tuesday-Friday