Describe your professional experience that qualifies you for this job.
As an entry-level clerk 27 years ago I learned the basic functions of the office and then worked my way up to chief of staff. In addition to fulfilling ministerial responsibilities, like working with good people to resolve citations so they don’t lose their license and jeopardize employment, I exercised the judicial responsibilities of the clerk that profoundly affect families. As assistant clerk and hearing officer I worked with grieving families probating wills, spouses settling the estate of their soldier, and adult children pursuing guardianship of their parent to keep them safe and protected from exploitation. With the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, I’ve worked with clerks statewide driving innovation and advancement in the use of technology to improve access to court services for all citizens. I’m experienced in the management side of being clerk as well as the humanity side necessary for sincerely meeting the needs of citizens.
The state plans to shift from paper-based court records to electronic. What would you do, and why, to shifting to the electronic system and any other advancements?
The best way for our court to prepare for a new electronic system is to be involved in its development. The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) is responsible for the development and implementation of eCourts, a paperless court system. As clerk of court, I and my staff will volunteer to serve on the NCAOC project teams responsible for developing the new court technology and processes. By working on these teams not only will Cumberland County be at the front of the line when new technology is rolled out, we’ll also have a voice in developing the systems to ensure they are designed to meet the needs of our citizens and community. At the same time, we can begin reengineering our local processes and using the technology we currently have to streamline business and information sharing — for example, providing digital copies at no charge when certified copies aren’t required.
Describe what you would like to do to make the office and the court system more accessible, easier and less costly for the public.
Until citizens can access court records and file court documents electronically and remotely 24/7, I believe the court should meet them where they are — physically and financially. It’s a matter of being true public servants and providing unfettered access to justice. As clerk of court, I want to expand business hours to allow citizens to conduct their court business without having to take time off from their jobs. I also believe the clerk of court needs to reach beyond the courthouse walls by establishing satellite locations throughout the county, possibly in community centers or other county office buildings. In addition to time and transportation constraints, many people cannot afford an attorney, nor do they need one for many common court processes. As clerk of court, I will create self-help resources for citizens and work with local attorneys to develop a program for providing related legal information free of charge.