Flying Beneath the Radar: How a Mismanaged Clerk’s Office Impacts the Lives of Baltimoreans.
Updated: Jun 26, 2022
I remember the day that a Baltimore City Circuit Court clerk entered the Sheriff's office in a state of panic. The level of fear and concern she displayed immediately caught my attention. When I asked if she needed assistance, she explained that her failure to deliver a judge’s order to quash—release—a warrant had resulted in the arrest of a young college student who was pulled over on a routine traffic stop. Even though that error was corrected, the traumatic experience the young man suffered spending several days in jail will likely stay with him for years. After my encounter with that clerk, I lent my attention to the ways a mismanaged Clerk’s office creates unnecessary traumatic experiences for Baltimoreans.
Most citizens believe that the Clerk of Court’s duties are limited to jury duty, land records, and business and marriage licensing. However, the Clerk’s most important function is managing all criminal, civil, and juvenile actions (processes). When the Clerk of Court fails to properly manage these actions, the impact can be life changing. For example, a clerk failed to forward a motion to seal a court record, which resulted in a citizen’s Social Security number and tax information becoming public record and available for any scammer to obtain. Oftentimes, the consequences of these missteps go unnoticed by most Citizens of Baltimore.
Also worth noting: The Clerk of Court currently does not accept any form of electronic payment, has lapsed in managing land records, and oftentimes takes several months to process the recordation (updating the ownership) of deeds. These types of mismanagement create very costly delays for realtors selling properties and for families attempting to purchase homes in Baltimore City.
Baltimore’s next Clerk of Court must be a leader with the capacity to reorganize and manage the office, provide employees with the resources needed to discharge their duties, execute a 21st century vision that includes implementing and expanding technology, paying employees a livable wage, and create a culture where employees are valued, supported, and encouraged to maximize their full potential.
Baltimore, we must select a qualified leader who has a proven track record of leadership, integrity, transparency, and accountability.
Lenora A. Dawson, M.S.
Candidate for Clerk of Circuit Court
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By Authority: Friends of Lenora Dawson, Terrell Boston Smith Treasurer