Lyon County Circuit Court Clerk Kimberly Duncan participated in sessions on court records, technology and best practices at the Circuit Court Clerks Fall College from Oct. 11-13 in Louisville.

The clerks generally meet for educational programs twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. They were able to have both colleges this year after COVID-19 prevented them from gathering in person in 2020.

“While we’re certainly not out of the woods with the pandemic, having both the spring and fall colleges was a bit of normality for the circuit clerks,” said Bell County Circuit Court Clerk Colby Slusher, who is president of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks. “We look forward to meeting often to stay on top of issues that matter for our offices and the people we serve. For our colleagues who couldn’t make it in person, the remote meeting technology we adopted during the pandemic came in handy for them to participate virtually.”

As a result of the pandemic, the Judicial Branch is receiving funds from the Federal American Rescue Plan to upgrade Kentucky’s court technology. At the college, the circuit clerks learned more about plans for the $14.7 million the 2021 General Assembly appropriated for court technology. Offices of Circuit Court Clerk will have a significant role with these projects, which involve video arraignment/conferencing, court record redaction, an online portal for self-represented litigants and payment kiosks for court fines and fees.

In a session on court records, the clerks got a refresher on the types of court documents that can be released to the public and those that must be confidential, sealed or redacted. Another session covered audits, which the Administrative Office of the Courts conducts every year on all Offices of Circuit Court Clerk.

The circuit clerks discussed best practices based on the population size of the counties they serve and met with Laurie K. Dudgeon, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, for an open discussion. In another session, they had the opportunity to learn about the recovery capital model, a comprehensive approach to helping people with substance use disorder gain and maintain recovery.

In a special event at the college, the circuit clerks honored former Supreme Court Clerk Susan Stokley Clary, who retired in February 2020. Supreme Court Justice Michelle M. Keller was the keynote speaker for the event.

The circuit clerks also received an update about the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life program for organ and tissue donation. Kentuckians can register to be an organ/tissue donor at their local Office of Circuit Court Clerk or at donatelifeky.org.

The circuit clerks were able to earn continuing education credits at the college, which was hosted by the KACCC’s Education Committee and the Division of Education Services at the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Circuit Court clerks

Circuit court clerks are responsible for managing the records of Kentucky’s Circuit and District courts. Circuit clerks are constitutionally elected officials from all 120 counties and serve a six-year term. They provide professional record keeping, receive money due the courts, pay money to required parties and to the state, record legal documents, provide legal documents and other legal materials, maintain the jury system, administer oaths and handle affidavits.

Administrative Office of the Courts

The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 employees and 406 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.