Clerk of the Courts

Jurisdiction and Duties

Clerk of the Circuit Court

Clerk Trena McLaughlin“Article 7, Section 1 of the State Constitution provided for the administrative functions of the circuit court by establishing the office of clerk of the circuit court. As the General Assembly created additional county level courts the responsibility for a large share of the administrative functions were assigned to the clerk of the “constitutional court”, the circuit court. Other non-court related governmental duties have also been assigned to the office of the “county clerk.” Following is a description of the functions of the Clerk of the Circuit Court:

Judicial Related Functions

The clerk (or a deputy) must attend all sessions of the court, and keep a record of all judgments, orders, decrees of the court. The clerk also certifies and attests to complete transcripts of court proceedings involving title to property or imposition of prison sentences, and in all other cases where a complete court record is required. Record of pleadings, motions, papers, and other evidence and court rulings are kept by the clerk. The clerk may grant motions and application for process, such as for the enforcement and execution of previous orders of the court, judgments by default, etc., and other proceedings which do not require the order or allowance of the court (subject to review by the court).

“The clerk receives complaints and initial pleadings in matters to be brought before the court and dockets cases, and prepares, under direction of the judge, calendars of actions ready for trial. The clerk also issues summonses and subpoenas to appear in court. The clerk, in the presence of the jury commissioners, draws the names of prospective jurors for the impanelment of grand and petit (trial) juries, and issues summons to prospective jurors. The clerk receives payment of fines and judgments levied by the court, and in the case of judgment pays out these monies to the person or organization entitled to them by the court order, with the exception of tax judgments, which are collected directly by the county treasurer.

“The clerk charges and receives court costs (as allowed by the court), and fees or “clerk’s costs” in connection with court actions or other legal business and services of the court for instance, for making transcripts of records of appeal, certain amounts upon conviction of various classes of charges, probating wills, etc. The clerk prepares budget estimates for all courts of which he or she serves as clerk to be submitted to the county council after review and approval of the respective judges.

Election Related Functions

The clerk serves as ex-officio member and secretary of the county election board, and as a member and clerk of the county board of canvassers. The clerk appoints other members of the county election board and the board of canvassers. These appointments must be made, one from each of the two major political parties, from nominations filed in writing by the county chairmen of the parties. The clerk receives filings of candidacy from persons seeking certain elective public offices, and issues certificates of election to successful local candidates except in the cases of constitutional officers who receive commissions from the governor.

“The county clerk serves as voter registration officer in all counties having a population of less than 100,000 population electing not to have a board of voter registration. Serving in this capacity the clerk has full charge and control of the process of registering voters in the county, including certification of deputy registration officers. Counties having a population of 100,000 or more are required to have a board which performs these functions instead of the clerk.

Other Administrative Functions

The clerk also administers certain services to the public which are not directly or obviously judicial functions, but concern legal or quasi-legal affairs. These include: filing and recording powers-of-attorney; filing applications for patents; and the issuance of various licenses and certificates such as marriage licenses, poultry and junk dealer licenses, and health practitioner’s licenses or certificates. The clerk may also solemize marriages. Clerk’s fees are charged for these services. The clerk is additionally empowered to administer all oaths, including the oaths of office for county officials.”

Source: Handbook For Indiana Elected County Officials by the Association of Indiana Counties, Inc.