New court order: Clark Co. judges accuse clerk of keeping court records in ‘disarray’

A court filing accuses the Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court of not keeping off-site records organized.

But the clerk, Melissa Tuttle, says the court documents have been kept in disarray long before her tenure began and that she is working to reorganize the system in her second year on the job.

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A court order signed by the three Clark County Common Pleas Court Judges — Douglas Rasttater, Richard O’Neill and Thomas Capper — told their attorney, Dan Harkins, to inspect, photograph and record the records at Springview Government Center which are supposed to be maintained by the clerk of courts office, a court filing says.

Harkins wrote in his findings that the off-site records are being kept in disarray.

“The files of the clerk were found in an inconsistent state,” the record says. “The organization of the files could not be readily ascertained at the time of the inspection. Some boxes contained notation of files in a stated sequence. Other boxes included notation for files that spanned several years but which were not returned to boxes that had sequential notations. Several boxes were of a size that required more than one person to move them. Each storage unit contained files for various years and case types. The placement of the files in each unit appeared to be random, for the organization of the files could not be readily ascertained.”

Tuttle says she is doing the best job possible and that she continues to upgrade and update the Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court’s Office. She said she offered to mediate with the three judges, but instead they have decided to communicate through court orders.

“It’s a disservice to the public if we are not able to communicate and it should have never gotten this far,” Tuttle said. “We should have been able to sit down. The supreme court has a local government dispute resolution program which I have offered on three different occasions and gotten rejected.”

She said she has asked to meet with the judges to discuss how they can work together but so far hasn’t been successful.

“I have asked for a meeting with the judges since before I took office,” Tuttle said. “I asked to meet with all three. The first meeting that I actually had was after they filed orders in August. And that’s when we both had a counsel.”

READ: Judges order review of Clark County Clerk of Court’s Office in ongoing dispute

The court document filed by Harkins says the judges received information that the records “were in a state of disarray” at the Springview campus.

“The court had scheduled hearings in several matters which necessitated a review of files which the Clerk had transferred to the campus,” the document says. “The clerk failed to produce the required files and informed the court that the files could not be readily located.”

The inspection took place on Feb. 22, according to the document. It was filed with the court last week.

“Each storage unit was inspected,” the document says. “Pictures and recordings of each unit were also taken…”

“During the inspection, a search was conducted for three specific files which were recently requested by the court,” the record says. “One file involved a domestic relations matter that is the subject of recurring hearings. The other two files related to a pending expungement application. None of the three requested files were found during the inspection.”

Tuttle said she has plans this summer to reorganize the Springview storage facility.

“I’ve been spending so much time here at the courthouse trying to modernize this office, that the off-site files are something I’d like to get to in the summer — when we have nice weather — to reorganize it.”

Facts & Figures

90: Percentage of staff Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court’s office had lost at one point between since leadership change in Jan. 2017 and now.

140: Number of years of experience lost at the Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court’s office since Jan. 2017

35: Number of years of experience Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court’s currently.

Continuing Coverage

The Springfield New-Sun has covered the dispute between the Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court’s Office and the judges since the original order was filed in 2018.

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