A review completed on the Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Court’s Office found state law wasn’t followed, but the clerk doesn’t agree with the findings.
The review of the clerk of court’s office completed by a volunteer team of Clark County Municipal Court employees found records were not maintained and pleadings were not date stamped properly.
“Records were not maintained in a timely manner and placed in case file,” the review states. “Pleadings were not date stamped pursuant to (Ohio Revised Code). The scanned file stamps were often unreadable.”
However, Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts Melissa Tuttle wrote in a response to the review that files aren’t always in her office.
“In order for the physical files to be updated in a timely manner, we need the files in the Clerk’s Office as much as possible and would appreciate the judicial’s staff’s cooperation in emailing us once a day to pull the cases for the next day,” a response says. “I understand that at times cases might need to be accessed on a moment’s notice, and would stress that the OnBase system has all the scanned files and is updated faster than the physical file.”
Tuttle said at the time of the review, the office was running efficiently.
“We physically showed them all areas of the office, including all of the places where work would be waiting to be processed,” the response says. “At the time of their visit all work was processed, and the only recently picked up mail was getting sorted and three deputy clerks were filing when they were there; all cases were initiated, issued, scanned, index, etc. There were also a few cases that needed orders to be initiated.”
Tuttle also says in her response the court plans to use an electronic filing system soon, which will ensure all timestamps can be clearly read.
Common Pleas Court Judges Douglas Rastatter, Richard O’Neill and Thomas Capper jointly filed three separate orders in June complaining of repeated delays in the filing of court documents and other concerns.
They then in September ordered Clark County Municipal Clerk of Court Guy Ferguson to review the operations of the Clerk’s office.
“The scope of the review shall include all operations of the Clerk’s Legal department, since Jan. 1 to present, to determine the Clerk’s compliance with applicable law and court rules,” the order says.
The review also found the office has lost a large number of its employees since Tuttle took over in January 2017.
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“The Clerk’s office has lost 140 years of employee experience (90 percent of staff) since January 2017,” the review states. “Present staff represents 35 years of experience. A thorough, comprehensive and individualized training program needs to be implemented for all employees.”
The review said it’s important for all parties of the criminal justice system get on the same page to best serve the public.
“A positive working relationship and line of communication with all participants of the criminal justice system should exist to maximize accuracy, efficiency and provide the service the public deserves,” the review says in conclusion.
Tuttle didn’t return messages seeking comment Thursday.
Springfield Attorney Dan Harkins, who is representing the judges, said the goal of the review is to ensure the office is being run properly and no action has been taken against Tuttle or the office.
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