The clerk’s place in American history is almost as well-known as the Star-Spangled Banner. The history of the Corporation of Old London dates back to 1272 A.D. when the Office of Municipal Clerk first appeared. Clerks are in charge of keeping track of public and historical documents, processing paperwork, presiding over meetings, and serving the needs of locals who require information.
There are thousands of clerks in America, serving the cities, counties and federal government. In Florida the state constitution created 67 Clerk’s, one for each county, to act as a check and balance on county government. The Clerk and Comptroller of Palm Beach County is attorney Sharon R. Bock. A Florida Bar member since 1987, while in law school she served on the Law Review as the associate managing editor at South Texas College of Law Houston. She was also chosen by the American Bar Association as the national law student liaison for the law practice management section of the bar. She began practicing law in Miami, Florida, in 1987 as a real estate and business lawyer. In 1989, she established a title insurance company to integrate her practice with all aspects of real estate law.
Her experience, hard work and talents have helped her become a distinguished Clerk among her peers. Elected in 2005, she served for 16 years before moving on to a consulting practice. As clerk she had multiple responsibilities, which include:
For residents to receive quality service, the clerk and the legislative body must have a solid, cordial working relationship. Behind the scenes, clerks make sure local government runs smoothly. The clerk’s office constantly updates and creates new systems to facilitate this duty.
- Secretariat at the Governing Body
A critical role in an organized government is the clerk. The office of clerk was one of the first to be established when the early colonists formed local governments.
As in those early jobs, selecting clerks today is based on their attention to detail, problem-solving prowess, and capacity for foresight. Making sure public meetings are appropriately publicized is one of the responsibilities associated with this position. This may seem unimportant but transparency in our government is a constitutional right. Knowing who, when and how our laws are made gives us a voice in our democracy. The clerk ensures this sacred right is never abridged or eliminated. The clerk also participates in every aspect of government and can advance ideas that promote a fairer system. Consider the following.
In 2016, Bock created “Operation Fresh Start” and in collaboration with other justice authorities, she developed a program for those with unresolved nonviolent criminal charges, mainly traffic offenses, a chance to start again by pleading guilty to their offenses, paying victims and court costs, and then, before a judge have their arrest warrants dismissed. The process resulted in the recovery of unpaid fines, the recall of hundreds of outstanding warrants and the re-issuance of driver’s licenses, allowing these residents to resume their lives free from the worry of being arrested and sentenced to jail. The program was so successful, the state adopted the program and all 67 Clerk’s now administer it.
- Management of Records
The designated keeper of county records is a clerk. The clerk is responsible for getting, securely storing and retrieving on demand all legal records under their control. Clerks keep official records, paperwork, vital records, and financial records, while state and local rules and ordinances may differ about specific jobs and functions.
- Public Records
The enormous time demand, according to clerks, is responding to requests for access to public records. For various reasons, thousands of people and organizations demand hundreds of thousands of documents daily. According to state and federal regulations, those who make such requests must be given access to the requested information in a reasonable time. Today all Clerks are experts in the use of digital formats for the storing and immediate retrieval of documents.