Clerk of Court
District courts are the key elements in the judicial system established in 1995. With the elimination of county courts, district courts became responsible for the workload and positions of the county courts. The Clerks of Court Association was formed in 1952 as the N.D. County Judges Association. Later, a separate organization was formed for clerks of district, county, municipal and Supreme courts.
The clerk of district court could well be called "Custodian of Court Files" because much of the clerk's time is spent working with legal records. It is an important job because maintaining accurate, updated and accessible records helps bring efficient delivery of judicial services.
Clerks of district court must summon jurors, maintain exhibits and attend court when it is in session. But their primary responsibility is administration of court records.
These records fall into several categories:
- Civil Actions area proceedings concerning the rights of private individuals. They include divorces, foreclosures, and personal injury/property damage cases.
- Restricted Action files aren't open to the public. They include formal juvenile proceedings, adoptions and aternity suits.
- Criminal Actions, or felonies, are handled in district court. These serious crimes include murder, gross sexual imposition and burglary.
- Child Support: Because of the number of divorces and a growing number of state and federal laws, the number of child support cases has expanded faster than other court responsibilities.
- Passports: Clerk of district court are designated agents for U.S.A. passports.
- Vital Records: Birth and death certificates are registered and burial permits issued.
In counties where the population is less than 6,000, one person acts as a clerk of district court and county recorder.
The 1989 Legislature opened the way for district clerks of court to become state employees. The county commission must initiate the transfer, which needs the approval of the state Supreme Court. Funding for the move must be appropriated by the Legislature.
District courts are part of the court system that includes the state supreme courts and municipal courts.