Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clerk of Court (Caswell County, North Carolina)

William Moore 1777-1780
Archibald Murphey 1780-1817
Azariah Graves 1817-1818
Alexander Murphey 1818-1822
Paul A. Harrelson 1822-1841
Abisha Slade 1841-1854
Thomas W. Graves 1854-1866
Henry F. Brandon 1866-1874
John H. Kerr 1874-1882
Spencer B. Adams 1882-1896
N. M. Richmond 1896-1897
Thomas H. Harrison 1897-1902
R. L. Mitchell 1902-1922
Barzillai S. Graves 1922-1926
George A. Anderson 1926-1934
H. Ralston Thompson 1934-1947
George M. Harris 1947-1970
Julian Moore 1970-1982
Janet H. Cobb 1982-2002
Penny L. Cobb 2002
John I. Satterfield 2002-

See: When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977)


Clerks of Court

The voters of the county elect the clerk of superior court for a four-year term. Clerks are paid by the state, with their salaries scaled in accordance with the population of their counties. As one would expect, the clerk is responsible for all clerical and record-keeping functions of the superior court and district court. However, the clerk also has numerous judicial functions: The clerk is judge of probate - that is, the clerk handles the probate of wills (proceedings to determine if a paper writing is a valid will) and the administration of estates of decedents, minors and incompetents. The clerk also hears a variety of special proceedings such as adoptions, incompetency determinations and partitions of land and is empowered to issue arrest and search warrants and to exercise the same powers as a magistrate with respect to taking pleas of guilty to minor littering, traffic, wildlife, boating, marine fisheries, alcoholic beverage, state park recreation and worthless-check offenses.

Each clerk has a number of assistants and deputies. The number of assistants and deputies that each clerk may employ varies from county to county depending on the volume of business. Assistant and deputy clerks are paid on a salary schedule based fixed by the Administrative Office of the Courts based on education and years of service in the clerk's office; the maximum and minimum salaries within that scale are fixed by the General Assembly.

The Clerk of Superior Court is elected for four years and must be a resident of the county in which he or she is elected. Unlike clerks of court in other states, the Clerk of Superior Court in North Carolina has numerous judicial functions.

As judge of probate, the Clerk has exclusive original jurisdiction over matters relating to the probate of wills, and the administration of estates, including appointing personal representatives, auditing their accounting, and removing them from office if necessary. The Clerk also presides over many other legal matters including adoptions, incompetency proceedings, condemnation of private lands for public use, and foreclosures. The Clerk is responsible for all clerical and record-keeping functions of the district and superior court. In addition, the Clerk receives and disburses money collected each year from court fees and fines.

Source: The North Carolina Court System

Note that the above description is as of 2007. Earlier clerks may have had different terms and responsibilities. However, the job probably was generally the same. Early clerks were not elected by public ballot but were chosen by the justices who made up the Caswell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. Until 1868 North Carolina counties were governed by the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions composed of justices. This court assembled quarterly to transact county business and serve as an inferior court.


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