Responsibilities of the Clerk of Circuit Court
Clerks of Circuit Court are public officials elected to four-year terms in countywide races. They are statutorily responsible for various record keeping functions of the courts. As custodians of the courts' records, Clerks of Circuit Court play a significant role in Wisconsin's judicial system.
Custodian of the Record
Record keeping for the courts is governed by state statute and Wisconsin Supreme Court rule. These require that Clerks of Court maintain records of all documents filed with the courts, keep a record of court proceedings, and collect various fees, fines and forfeitures ordered by the court or specified by statute. Clerks of Circuit Court also must establish and promote procedures for reasonable access to court records as well as maintain the confidentiality of records as set forth by statute and court order.
Jury management is also a responsibility of Clerks of Circuit Court. Automation in the courts has made the process of selecting and notifying potential jurors much more efficient and has improved record keeping for jury management. Clerks of Court work with the Director of State Courts and the Legislature to continue to improve jury management. The most noticeable improvement has been the decrease in the time jurors are required to serve. Effective July 1, 1997, Wisconsin citizens are obligated for no more than one month of jury service in a four-year period. (Waukesha County jurors serve no more than two weeks of jury service.)
Millions of dollars in fees, fines and forfeitures are paid through Clerks' offices annually. Clerks of circuit court work to meet this fiscal responsibility with accurate, efficient and effective accounting practices. Financial software, designed in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, assists clerks in efficiently handling this money.
As local court administrative personnel, Clerks of Circuit Court are at the center of an enormous variety of activities, and work daily with many different people. Law enforcement, the legal community, local, state and federal agencies, businesses and the general public depend upon the office of the Clerk of Circuit Court to solve a wide range of problems. Clerks of Court provide an administrative link between the judiciary, county administration, the county boards, and the public. Clerks also work closely with other court staff to ensure that the courts run smoothly and efficiently.
The administrative responsibilities at the circuit court level involve a variety of tasks. These include budgeting and administering trial court resources, developing effective policies and procedures, managing local court technology, and recruiting and maintaining competent staff.