A HISTORY OF THE CLERK'S OFFICE


The origins of the Clerk's Office extend into early English history. In times past, the custody of court records was entrusted to judges. However, it became apparent that a judge alone was unable to preside over the argument, record the proceedings, and issue writs. Consequently, the office of the Clerk of Court was created. Subordinate judicial officials were chosen from among the clergy, the only literate group at the time. Thus, "clerk" is derived from the Latin word "clericus" which means clergyman. In the English colonies, officers of the common pleas courts were known as county clerks, a title utilized in most states today.

The Florida Constitution, which has governed Florida citizens for over 150 years, established a Clerk of the Circuit Court as an elected public trustee in 1838 and established at the county level a system of checks and balances that has served the public well. The functions and duties of clerks vary from state to state. In most jurisdictions, the clerk is generally vested with a large number of administrative duties. The Clerk is not only Clerk of the Circuit Court, but also the County Treasurer, Recorder, Auditor, Finance Officer and Ex-Officio Clerk of the County Commission.

The office of the Clerk performs a wide range of record keeping, information management, and financial management in the judicial system and county government. Because the Clerk’s duties affect the rights and property of county citizens, it is essential that the Clerk remain accountable for his or her actions. For this reason, the constitution and statutes require that the Clerk

  • Is governed by statutory authority in carrying out the duties and functions of the office.
  • As auditor and custodian of county funds, is subject to state Auditor General rules and regulations.
  • Is subject to annual audits by independent audit firms.

Public evaluation and scrutiny in the election process every four years also insures Clerk accountability.

The Joint Select Committee on Judicial Personnel of the Florida Legislature calculated that the Clerk's Office performs 926 different constitutional and statutory functions and duties (and this number does not include responsibilities required by court rule and administrative order!). The number of tasks continues to grow with changes in legislation, regulations, and reporting requirements.



"A public office is a public trust. The people have the right to secure and sustain that trust." Article I, Section 8, Florida Constitution

"There shall be in each county a Clerk of the Circuit Court who shall be selected pursuant to the provisions of Article VIII, Section 1." Article V, Section 16, Florida Constitution

"The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall be Ex-Officio Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, Auditor, Recorder and Custodian of all county funds." Article VIII, Section 1(d), Florida Constitution