Northumberland County Clerk of Court Election - 5 November 2013
On November 5th, 2013 a special election will be held for the Office of Northumberland County Clerk of Court caused by the retirement last summer of then Clerk of Court, Linda Booth. There are four highly qualified candidates seeking the office.
- Deborah Thomas Bingham, current interim incumbent
- Karen O. "Toni" Allison of the Commonwealths Attorney’s office
- Thomas H. "Tommy" Tomlin, 4th District Supervisor and the county’s juvenile probation and parole officer
- Ellen K. Douglas, former Essex County Clerk of Court
Why would these individual seek the job? What does a “Clerk of District Court do? Good question! Not only should you know who is running for the office, but you should understand the duties and importance of the position.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court is a constitutional officer elected to an 8 year term with a salary of $90,326 set by the state. In Northumberland County, the Clerk supervises a staff of 4 others who are hired by the Clerk. The State bases the number of employees in Clerk's office on work volume or work load.
Here is a thumbnail sketch from the Virginia Clerk of Courts Association of the more than 800 statutory Clerk of Court responsibilities listed in Supreme Court of Virginia’s 113 page 2011 edition of Circuit Court Clerks’ Duties List.
The clerk handles the administrative functions of the court and also has authority to probate wills, grant administration of estates and appoint guardians. The clerk is the custodian of the court records and the clerk's office is where deeds are recorded and marriage licenses issued.
The Circuit Court Clerk, charged with more than 800 statutory responsibilities, is an elected official responsible for the administration of the Northumberland Circuit Court. Such responsibilities extend beyond judicial-related business to non-judicial and fiscal activities as well.
As Chief Operating Officer of the Court, the Clerk is the custodian of the Court’s records and manages all filings, pleadings and other case records lodged with the Court and Clerk’s Office. The Clerk ensures that members of the judiciary are provided administrative support associated with courtroom proceedings, including case-related information needed to conduct those proceedings.
In criminal cases, the Clerk provides assistance to law enforcement, corrections officials, prosecutors and defense counsel, and issues arrest documents and other legal process to be served on defendants, witnesses and grand jurors. The Clerk's Office also lends overall judicial support by maintaining and disposing of civil and criminal evidence, receipting criminal fines and court costs, investing and distributing monies on behalf of civil litigants or third party beneficiaries, and collecting restitution on behalf of crime victims.
Inquiries concerning existing policies, procedures and records access should be directed to the Clerk's Office, which serves as the clearinghouse for court rulings and general case information. In conjunction with this responsibility and pursuant to Virginia law, the Clerk's Office routinely provides statistical data, case-related information and court documents to state, local, and federal agencies as well as to citizens, attorneys, litigants, and the media.
On the non-judicial side, the Circuit Court Clerk serves as Probate Judge in admitting or denying wills to probate and in qualifying executors, administrators, guardians, and/or conservators.
The Clerk also serves as the county's Register of Deeds and, as such, is responsible for recording all deeds, deeds of trust, powers of attorney, and real estate liens and releases. Other transactions and recordings processed by the Clerk's Office include judgments, financing statements, fictitious names for businesses, marriage licenses, concealed handgun permits, and a variety of appointments including ministers, notaries, local Commission and Board members, and law enforcement officers.
Yet another role of the Clerk is that of county archivist. The Clerk is required by statute to permanently preserve and archive the official records of the Court, in addition to probate (estate), real estate, and a vast array of other county records. The Clerk's Office maintains records.
Given the volume and types of records it maintains, records management is an immense and critical responsibility of the Clerk's Office. Furthermore, because of the nature of its records, the Clerk’s Office is a hub of information for use by commercial entities. Efficient operation of the Clerk's Office is critical to a vibrant business climate in Northumberland County.
Fiscal responsibilities of the Clerk's Office include the maintenance and investment of trust and condemnation funds as well as the collection of court fines/costs, restitution, civil filing fees, real estate transfer fees, recordation taxes, and a myriad of other fees authorized by statute.
Statewide the Clerk's Office annually generates millions of dollars in revenue for both the state and county. Such monies are used to fund citizen services of all types, while fines and costs collected in criminal cases produce a significant revenue stream for funding the prosecution and incarceration of criminal defendants.
As an elected official, the Clerk of the Circuit Court is directly accountable to the citizens who elected him or her. As such, the Clerk is committed to exceeding customer expectations and delivering fair and impartial administrative justice to all citizens in need of service.
NOTE: A "Meet the Candidates" forum will be hosted by the Bluff Point Community League, on Monday, 21 October. The League meets at the Bluff Point Graded School #3 building, 2595 Bluff Point Road, Kilmarnock.
Join the League for a social hour and potluck dinner, with the program starting at 7:00 PM. The public is invited to attend potluck social and participate in asking the Clerk of Court candidates questions about their qualifications, job knowledge and goals.