Circuit Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
The office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court is established by Article 8, Section 9 of the West Virginia Constitution. Circuit Clerks are elected for a period of six years and their duties, responsibilities and compensation are set by statute. The Clerk is authorized to appoint deputy Clerks who take the same Oath of Office as the Clerk and perform official acts and duties in the name of the Circuit Clerk. In Ohio County, there are eight full-time and one part-time Deputy Clerks.
The Circuit Clerk is an officer within the judicial system and plays a pivotal role in that system. The Clerk is an independently elected official with autonomy to establish procedures and policies necessary to carry out statutory responsibilities.
The Circuit Clerk is the official record keeper and fee officer for the Circuit and Family Courts. The Clerk’s duties are ministerial; that is, the duties are prescribed by statute, order or other directive. There are three terms of Court — January, May and September each year.
As the official record keeper, the Circuit Clerk is responsible for recording and maintaining all records filed including but not limited to civil, criminal, divorce, custody, support cases, mental hygiene, guardianship, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, juvenile neglect and appeals from lower courts. Ohio County also hears mass litigation cases; one of only three counties in the State. The clerk is custodian of all records pertaining to cases filed and manages the court’s computerized case docketing system.
In addition to acting as the official record keeper of the Court, the Circuit Clerk is also the fee officer. The Circuit Clerk is authorized by statute to collect various fees, fines and costs associated with cases, and hold and disburse other types of payments and deposits, such as bonds, restitution and witness fees. With the exception of the portion of the fees and costs that are sent directly to the State under various statutory provisions, all such monies are either deposited into the county treasury for subsequent disbursement to the appropriate agency or, in the case of bonds or restitution, disbursed directly to the appropriate individual. If fines, fees and restitution are not paid, the Clerk has the authority to have driver’s licenses suspended.
The Circuit Clerk also serves as the jury administrator for the Court and is responsible for the management of the petit and grand jury systems in the county. Under the direction of the Supreme Court, the Clerk creates the master list of prospective jurors from drivers license holders and voter registration, qualifies and summons the jurors, and randomly selects panels for attendance, and monitors attendance and mileage for reimbursement purposes. The Circuit Clerk is required to provide jury panels for the Magistrate, Circuit and Municipal courts as needed.