Courts process many hundreds and even thousands of documents every day in court cases, ranging from minor traffic tickets to murder. Some types of cases processed in the court system include traffic infractions, domestic disputes, small claims, personal injury claims, bankruptcies, and criminal charges ranging from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies.Court clerks play an essential role in the daily operations of all court systems, including municipal, county, state, and federal courts.
What is a Court Clerk?
A court clerk performs a variety of tasks in the everyday operations of a courthouse. A court clerk may provide face-to-face customer service in a clerk's office, and take calls from people asking about court services, like how to file for divorce, for example. Court clerks often research and prepare copies of court documents, which sometimes involve looking at microfilm of very old court cases. They take new cases for filing, and perform many other administrative and customer service tasks. The specifics of a court clerk's job will vary depending on the jurisdiction of the particular court, but a court clerk always works in direct contact with people who need to navigate the court system.
What Skills and Knowledge Does a Court Clerk Need?
A court clerk needs a good combination of clerical, computer, and people skills. You must learn to adapt quickly to technology and use database programs specific to the court system that you will be working in. You will also need to be familiar with legal documents and legal terminology, and you must have the ability to keep cool under pressure.
A lot of the people you'll come into contact with might be angry, upset, or confused about their involvement in the legal system. While this can make clerking a stressful job, it is also an exciting one, since you will get to see major court cases from the frontline.
Court Clerks can:
1. Explain court rules and procedures.
2. Explain available options for your case or problem.
3. Provide past case rulings.
4. Provide cites to, or copies of, the law.
5. Explain public court operations and jobs.
6. Describe court records and their availability.
7. Provide public case information.
8. Tell you how to make a complaint.
9. Refer you to other offices or persons.
10. Provide forms with instructions.
But Court Clerks cannot:
1. Suggest the procedures you should follow.
2. Provide opinions about which option to chose.
3. Predict what the court will do.
4. Analyze the law based on the specifics of your case.
5. Provide information derived from the decision-making process.
6. Provide access to sealed or confidential case records.
7. Provide confidential case information.
8. Give opinions about your complaint.
9. Make referrals based on personal preference.