Staffing challenges are among the top issues facing interim Circuit Court Clerk Morgan Boothe in her November bid for the office.
“We are down one person until after the election. The State Compensation Board funds five full-time positions for us. That’s based on the county’s population and our office’s workload,” Boothe said. Boothe, 28, said the problem with that is the workload assessment the state counts on is about 20 years old, but “our workload has increased just like everything else in the world.”
To help address the office being short-staffed, Boothe said the Virginia Court Clerks Association legislative team hopefully will address the issues with state legislators in the upcoming year.
“Maybe we’ll see some progress with that workload assessment being conformed to today’s time instead of 20 years ago,” she said.
Other than hiring a new full-time employee after the election, Boothe said she believes the office excels at working together as a team.
“We’re all taking online courses and in-person classes offered by the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) from the Supreme Court,” she said. “So, we’re all kind of cross-training other deputy clerks’ duties and kind of seeing what everybody else is doing throughout their day so we can all pitch in to help where needed.”
But, due to the staffing issue, “we lack enough hours in the day for the workload that we have.”
To help address this, Boothe said many office staff stay after work hours to finish. “It’s kind of like a volunteer concept. If somebody’s in the middle of a project they’re working on, sometimes they will stay until 5:15 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. to finish it up.”
Boothe said she also works on weekends and holidays to help out with deputy clerks’ duties that may be left undone due to helping the public.
Appointed as the interim clerk of court in November 2022, Boothe said “Since I’ve had the authority to do so, I’ve implemented a lot of new technology and systems that greatly help out our employees and the public,” and she thinks her track record would provide insight as to how she would be as a clerk.
Since her appointment, she has implemented online payments, the judicial imaging system for guest judges when they sit on the bench, the case imaging system, and automated deed numbering.
She also implemented the new jury management system, updated the speaker system in the courtroom, reconstructed the court processes to speed up case updating, and destroyed old election materials past the required threshold with the help of EMI Security in Stuart.
“I want to keep implementing new technology and systems. We just recently finished a huge deed book scanning project a couple of weeks ago that entailed scanning deeds from 1973-1995. So, now our office is indexed from 1968 to present, and imaged from 1973 to present,” she said of the project that was completed with only clerk’s office funds.
Preserving the county’s history is important, and she would continue pursuing ways to preserve them if elected.
“We need to get those records digitized just in case a tragedy happens,” she said. “We’ve got automated judgments, and that turned a five-minute process into a two-second process. We’ve completed over 300 backlog sentencing orders, and caught up probate filings six months behind.”
The office is also cross-training different positions, and all of the staff are enrolled in the Virginia Court Clerk’s Association.
Staff also have access to court recordings, Boothe said and established “working relationships with other courts and clerk’s offices for networking, and I’ve put the land transfers back in The Enterprise.”
“I’ve been doing the clerk of court duties for almost a year. I am the only candidate that has actual in-office clerk’s experience,” she said. “Legal knowledge is not the same as clerk’s knowledge. We’re actually prohibited from giving legal advice in the clerk’s office.”
A Patrick Springs native, Boothe’s entire family lives in the county. She graduated from Patrick County High School (PCHS) in 2013 and received her associate degree from Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) through the dual enrollment program. She also attended East Tennessee State University.
She has worked in the clerk’s office since 2017.
In her free time, she enjoys being outside and sitting on the porch with her family and friends.