The County Clerk is an elected position. The Clerk is, by virtue of the Constitution ex-officio Clerk of Superior Court.
The goal of the Clerk’s Office is to protect the integrity and accuracy of the court records of Asotin County Superior Court while serving the public and legal community in a courteous, professional, and expedient manner.
The county clerk is one of several independent, elected officials provided by the Washington State Constitution (Article IV, Section 26), with specific and special duties assigned by statute, as well as local and state court rules. The position of county clerk is best characterized as the administrative and financial officer of the Superior Court.
The county clerk’s purpose is to ensure the separation of powers among the three branches of government by preserving the integrity of the judiciary. Those three branches are Executive, Judicial and Legislative.
This purpose is accomplished in three ways:
- By being independent of the judicial branch, the clerk protects the judiciary from the appearance of impropriety or unfairness in the setting of cases, implementation of orders or investment of funds.
- The clerk is located in the executive branch of government and provides the avenue for external oversight of the judiciary without legislative or executive branch interference with its actions, integrity or independence.
- As an independent elected official, the clerk preserves for the public unrestrained access to a fair, accurate and independently established record of the opinions, decisions and judgments of the court.
Administrator of Court Records & Exhibits
The clerk receives and processes all documents presented in a Superior Court cause of action. The processing of court documents involves record classification, assignment of cause number, computerized docketing and manual filing of hard copy records. The clerk is responsible for seeing that these records are maintained, retained and purged in accordance with statutory time constraints and required archival standards. The types of cases that are filed in the clerk’s office are:
- Domestic/Family Law
- Felony Criminal
- Juvenile Dependency
- Juvenile Offender
- Mental Commitment
Financial Officer for the Courts
As the court’s agent, the clerk:
- Collects statutory fees, fines, trust and support funds
- Disburses monies as ordered by the court
- Maintains a trust account for monies received
- Provides an investment plan for monies held
The collection, accounting and investment of court monies is done to ensure that the interests of the public and the county are secured.
The clerk serves a quasi-judicial function (to exercise discretion of judicial nature) for the issuance of court related orders. In this capacity, the clerk must:
- Establish a record of judgments ordered by the court
- Issue documents such as:
- Letters testamentary
- Orders of sale
- Warrants of arrest
- Writs of execution
- Perform acts required by law
- Review court documents for possible errors
Ex Officio Clerk of the Court
Under the Constitution of the State of Washington, the clerk has the title of “ex officio clerk of the court.” This requires the clerk’s presence at all court sessions for the purpose of establishing an independent record of each hearing (minutes) which are available to the public. The clerk must also be present at every court hearing or trial to receive and keep a record of all exhibits (evidence) entered by the parties.
Jury Management Officer
In most counties, the clerk’s office is responsible for the management of the jury panel for the courts.
As the administrator of a county department, the clerk has the responsibility to establish office policies and procedures, oversee the budget and maintain the established guidelines and policies of the county legislative authority. Accuracy and efficiency are critical in the clerk’s office, as even the slightest error or omission in marking evidence, indexing, posting or filing of thousands of legal documents yearly, or error in disbursing funds, could affect the life or property of a private citizen.