Constitutional Corner

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By Clerk of Circuit Court

FAYE MITCHELL

On January 1, 2004 my incredible journey began following in the footsteps of previous Clerks of Circuit Court.  My second elected term of office and collective nine years serving the constituents of Chesapeake as Clerk has been filled with perilous challenges and celebrated accomplishments.

The Clerk of Circuit Court is an elected office serving an 8-year term.  The office of Clerk of the Circuit Court dates from 1619 when the House of Burgesses created constitutional offices in Virginia.  The other constitutional offices serving 4-year terms are the offices of Sheriff, Treasurer, Commissioner of Revenue, and Commonwealth’s Attorney.

From colonial days to the present time, the duties of the office have changed significantly, but the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court remains one of the most important constitutional offices in each county or city in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Clerk of Circuit Court in Virginia performs multiple duties that in many states are divided among several government offices.  The Code of Virginia lists over 800 separate responsibilities and duties for the Clerk, many of which are legally sophisticated and complex.

As the chief executive officer, the Clerk is responsible for maintaining the court’s official records and providing support to the judiciary.  The variety of duties include, but are not limited to; administering procedures for matters involving criminal case management and civil litigation management; the collection of fines, cost, and restitution; the administration of probate and estate matters; investing funds on behalf of third-party beneficiaries; financial receipting, recording, and maintaining of deeds, plats, certificates of satisfaction and other land related documents; maintaining and issuing of marriage licenses and business trade names; recording of liens and judgments; recording of military discharge papers (DD-214); issuance of concealed handgun permits and notary public commissions, receiving and storing of election records; qualifying ministers to perform marriages; preservation of historic records; and administering oath of office affirmations to elected officials and appointed citizens.

The growth in population of Chesapeake in recent years has made the delivery of services more challenging.  Technology has been the catalyst that has elevated this level of service by providing integrated solutions to reduce service redundancy.  Court dockets have transitioned from paper postings in the courthouse to electronic docket monitors displaying case information.  Gone are the days of handling paper case files; electronic virtual case files that may be accessed by parties simultaneously have replaced paper files.  Approved members of the Virginia Bar Association have fee-based web access to court documents via sanctioned software through the Supreme Court of Virginia.  Citizens may access this data by visiting our office and using our conveniently located public computer workstations.

The land records management system (containing deeds, liens, judgments, plats, wills, finance statements, certificates of satisfaction, etc.) has evolved into an electronic database with over 7 million scanned documents images.  Over 400 governmental and nongovernmental approved users have access to this data through a fee-based secure remote access website.  Our citizens may also take advantage of these resources by visiting our office to obtain hands-on computer access to these images.

All of the automation projects implemented by this office were funded through the State Technology Trust Fund. This fund was established by the Virginia General Assembly to allow Clerks to enhance the automation and technology in their office from user fees assigned to certain land record filings made in the office.

My pledge to Chesapeake constituents is to always protect this office, its records, and its documents.  Our mission is to optimize data flow, maximize efficiency and productivity, manage information, enhance community access, better serve constituents, and ensure accessibility.   Thank you for the privilege of serving and becoming a model for the Commonwealth.

Please visit the Clerk of Circuit Court website at www.cityofchesapeake.net.

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