Clerk of the County

by

Drew R. Hamilton

 

University of South Florida’s Public Affairs Reporting class visited the Edgecomb Courthouse and listened to Pat Frank, Clerk of the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County, speak about public records.

The clerk of the court’s office files and maintains court records, financial files, employee records and copies of legal documents.  The clerk prepares the court docket, the official summary of proceedings for the court, and takes care of scheduling hearings.

Pat Frank has had an extensive career in public service, being elected to such offices as the Hillsborough County School Board, both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives, where she was the first woman nominated “Most Respected Senator”.

The clerk’s office acts as the nervous system for the transfer and oversight of paperwork between the court and the sheriff’s office.  Frank explained how her office was responsible for processing inmates at the jail.  When she began her job, the processing time took three to four weeks in order to release an inmate.  Through more efficient processing of the documents, Frank has been able to reduce it to a mere week.  This isn’t just good news for the newly freed man or woman, it’s also decreasing the cost on taxpayers, who share the financial responsibility for taking care of that prisoner.

Frank also serves as the Hillsborough County Comptroller, in addition to serving as the Clerk of the Circuit Court.  She manages the investment portfolio for the country, pays the county bills after making sure that they are legal to pay, and runs the payroll for county employees.

JoAnn Constantini, Director for the Official Records Department, is in charge of collecting, recording, indexing and archiving all of the public records that are processed through the clerk’s office.  Constantini states that there are 90 million records on file and all post-1965 files are available online through the clerk’s website.

The Official Records Department
also processes marriage licenses for the department of vital statistics and they process passport applications for the Florida Department of State.

The clerk’s office contains a wealth of public records for journalists researching a story.  An individual’s dealings with the court system or the county will be documented and stored in the clerk’s office.  Has an individual ever sued anyone?  Have they ever been sued?  Do they have any liens on their house for not paying a bill?  All can be discovered at the clerk’s office.

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Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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