The Patrick County Circuit Clerk of Court’s Office was assessed by a team from the Virginia Supreme Court last week at the request of Circuit Court Judge Marcus A. Brinks.
Morgan Boothe, who was appointed to fulfill the duties associated with the Circuit Court Clerk’s position, said Brinks requested the audit to ensure the office was working in the right direction and everything was on track.
“Nothing was wrong because we just had a financial audit the last week of October. He just wanted an assessment of everything else in the office,” she said.
Boothe said the assessment team provided several tips and guidance on how the office could be more efficient and how to do things faster and easier.
Since her appointment, Boothe said the office is “playing a little catch up” and “trying to rearrange some stuff.”
While the office is now down to five people, Boothe said the public should not expect a slower pace.
“It’s more of the duties that nobody sees that we’re catching up on. The public shouldn’t be affected. We’re always going to do our best for them,” she said.
Boothe said there is currently one person assigned to each duty in the office. To help make things run smoother, she believes the personnel need to be cross trained.
“We need to get more people comfortable doing different jobs. It’s just going to be time to do that to cross train and learn other things,” she said.
Another way she believes the office could improve is to implement online payments.
“We take probably on average 10 to 15 payments by phone a day. If we get those online, I think that will help free up some of our time and it’s easier for the public to use,” she said.
Boothe added she would also love to see the office go in a more technologically efficient direction.
“There’s so many programs out there put in place by the Supreme Court for us to use to make this job easier. And just scanning and online payments, faxing the deeds, there’s so many things that would make the public be able to use this office more efficiently as well,” she said.
Boothe’s appointment and the assessment occurred within days of Brinks’ order that determined Clerk of Circuit Court Sherri Hazlewood was unable to perform the duties associated with her position.
Hazlewood, who is facing legal issues in Bland and Patrick counties, remains in the elected position.
An elected official can be formally removed from a position by a petition, according to Susan Taylor, Patrick County Registrar.
“A petition must be signed by a number of registered voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the officer equal to 10 percent of the total number of votes cast at the last election for office,” she said.
According to Taylor’s records, 5,441 people voted for the Clerk of Court in the 2017 election, which means 544 signatures are needed for the petition. Any member of the public can petition.
Taylor said the Registrar’s Office does not handle election recalls and believes those interested in creating a petition should contact an attorney that understands what the law is requesting.
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