DUTIES OF THE CIRCUIT COURT CLERK
Court clerks serve an important role in the operation of the court system in Tennessee. Clerks must attend each session of court with all the papers in the cases on the docket and must administer the oaths to parties and witnesses who testify in a case. Clerks usually keep minutes of the court in a well-bound book, but may keep this information in electronic format so long as certain rules relating to the safe-keeping of the records are followed. Because court clerks deal with voluminous paperwork, the storage and retention of documents are important considerations. When a case is appealed from a court of record, the clerk compiles the record (papers) needed for the appeal, and it is extremely important that the records of the clerk’s office be well-organized and accurate.
Clerks maintain the rule docket and an execution docket in which all court judgments or decrees are entered in order of rendition by the court and in which all receipts and disbursements in a case are entered.
Clerks also maintain indexes for all books and dockets that are kept by the office. Clerks collect state and county litigation taxes, criminal injuries compensation tax, county expense fees, funds for the impaired driver’s trust fund, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation fees, misdemeanant jail per diems, fines, sheriff’s fees, clerk’s fees, witness fees and other items of court costs. Clerks prepare bills of costs in cases, account for these monies and make collection efforts when these amounts are unpaid. Clerks may elect to use certain “flat fees” in lieu of itemizing the fees according to the clerk’s fee statute, Tennessee Code Annotated § 8_21_401. Clerks maintain a cash journal (general ledger) to account for and summarize the cash transactions of the office and issue receipts for all collections.
Clerks invest idle funds pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated §18_5_106, and often serve in a fiduciary capacity to invest funds held for third parties. Additionally, many clerks conduct delinquent tax sales and other sales of property as ordered by the court.
Clerks may collect support, including alimony and child support, pursuant to court order and the Tennessee Code Annotated.
State Court Clerks’ Conference. It is the official duty of the clerk to attend meetings of the state court clerks’ conference unless the clerk is otherwise officially engaged or is unable to attend for good and sufficient reasons. Tennessee Code Annotated §18_1_501 et seq.
Other Matters. Since office management is an important aspect for a court clerk, the clerk should have knowledge of personnel procedures and both state and federal laws. The clerk should also have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interests and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.