Unraveling the Puzzling Perplexities of the Courts

Darlene G. Snyder

Twenty-three years ago when I was interviewed for my current position of Chief Deputy Clerk for Madison District Court, I asked Linda Cates (then Spurlock) the Circuit Court Clerk to explain what District and Circuit Court was and what a role the clerks played in the court system. My only knowledge of the courts then was I had sent the payment for my last speeding ticket to the District Clerk’s office. During the interview Linda tried to give the inexperienced me a quick overview.
I thought it might be fun to share some facts about the court system in general, and a more detailed review of the services available through the Circuit, District and Family Court Clerks offices. We are public servants and you are possibly already aware of some of the services offered, but then again you might be surprised to learn of other ways the clerk’s office may help you. Over the next few weeks, I will share more information.
Today though, I’ll share with you what I learned the day of my interview; Circuit Court is the higher court; the place where felonies are heard and civil litigations involving over $4000.00 are filed. District Court is the lower court where traffic and misdemeanor cases are heard, and yes where traffic tickets are paid. The Circuit Court Clerk is over both clerk offices. She and her deputies are keepers of the records. They attend court with the judges and records proceedings, as well as close out the dockets and types the cases.
Sounds simple, right? Not so. In the years since that interview, I have learned that the court system is much more complex than the simple answer we usually offer when explaining the difference in the two courts and of the role of the clerk. For example, which court would you go to file a probate? Which court handles adoptions? Where do you report for jury duty? If you are going to court on a matter, which building do you report? Where would you file an EPO? What is an EPO? Did you know that there are four separate clerks’ offices – five on Fridays when we are in Berea? No wonder our customers are confused at times about where to go.
Next week I will try to answer some of these questions and tear into complexions and differences in District Court Clerks and the Circuit Court Clerks offices. Until then, read more about us at “www.kycourts.net”

By: Darlene G. Snyder

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