Clerk of Court

The Clerk of Court is in charge of the legal memory of the citizens of Lafayette Parish and the actuating of their will through the electoral process.

The Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court’s office dates from the 1823 separation of Lafayette Parish from St. Martin Parish. It remains a constitutionally mandated office.

I.  Power

The Clerk of Court:

  • acts as an ex-officio notary public
  • acts as parish recorder, and archivist of legal proceedings
  • serves the District Attorney and the 15th District Judicial Court
  • coordinates all steps for every election in Lafayette Parish
  • accounts for the fees collected and owed for record transactions

The Clerk of Court is an elected official, standing for office in the parish every four (4) years with no term limits. The only requirements for office are that he be a resident of the state for the preceding two years of the election, and shall have resided in the parish in which he seeks election for the preceding year.

The Clerk of Court carries out the mandates of the Louisiana State Constitution, the Louisiana Revised Statutes, and carries out the rules and policies of the Secretary of State (elections), the felony charges section of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedures, 15th District Judicial Court, and the 15th District Attorney. Benefits for the Clerk’s staff fall under the “Louisiana Clerks of Court Retirement and Relief Fund System.”

II.  Services

The Clerk of Court’s office employs more than 110 full time employees and several part time. Fifty-five are certified Deputy Clerks of Courts, and the rest are pursuing certification. The Deputy Clerks may be Minutes Clerks (transcribing and recording court proceedings daily), Docket Clerks (setting cases to be heard), Election Clerks, and others.

There are sixteen (16) departments in the Clerk’s office, which can be grouped under three (3) major functions.

I. Serving the District Attorney and the 15th District Judicial Court

A. Jury Management
B. Civil Court
C. Criminal Court
D. Family Court
E. Juvenile
F. Traffic
G. Accounting: records all pending, challenged, and completed fiscal transactions, including the Registry of the Courts accounts (disputed money in litigation)

II. Recording and preserving legal documents and records and facilitating public research and retrieval

A. Information Technology
B. Birth Certificates
C. Marriage
D. Mortgage
E. Passport
F. Recording: Civil and Criminal judgments, marriage licenses, divorce judgments, birth certificates, passport applications, mortgages and non-lien certificates, conveyances, protective orders, confidential juvenile records, Universal Commercial Code filings, articles of incorporation, subpoenas, judgment of debt, alimony, custody, adoptions, damages or injuries, succession, change of name, emancipations
G. Records Management: planning for disaster preservation and maintaining access to historical record
H. Research: assist public in accessing records

III. Elections: This is a single department, handling all steps for every election in Lafayette Parish.

A. Qualify all local candidates
B. Train Commissioners and commissioners-in-charge: Commissioners and Commissioners-in-charge are volunteers, but are paid per election.
C. Complete all set-ups for elections
D. Maintenance of voting machines
E. Tabulate election totals
F. Check voting machines against election night printouts. The Clerk of Court or deputies seal the voting machines no later than thirty-six (36) hours prior to the opening of the polls, and opens them on the third day following election, with specific procedures for protecting and verifying the election results.
G. The Clerk of Court verifies the total votes in the presence of the Lafayette Parish Board of Elections Supervisors.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION

Louisiana Department of Social Services
Lafayette Board of Election Commissioners
Secretary of State
Registrar of Voters
Louisiana State Police
Lafayette Parish Sheriff
District Attorney, 15th District
15th Judicial District Court
Municipalities of 15th Judicial District

 III.  Money

Primary funding for the Clerk of Court’s office rests on the fees, licenses, permits, charges, commissions, and court costs. The Louisiana Constitution mandates that Lafayette Consolidated Government pay for construction and maintenance of the Lafayette Parish Court House, which houses the 15th Judicial Court and the operations of the Clerk of Court. Lafayette Consolidated Government is also required to pay certain operating expenses of the Clerk of Court.


Income:
1.4% Licenses, permits, fees, charges, and commissions
3.3% Court costs, court fees, court charges
78.2% Recording fees
7.3% Certified copy fees
5.6% Intergovernmental
4.2% Miscellaneous

Total governmental revenues: $7,445,873

Expenses:

71% Personnel services
29% Operating services, materials & supplies, capital outlay
9% Materials and supplies
7% Capital outlay

Total expenditures of governmental funds for the year 2009 was $7,881,626.

The Clerk of Court’s budget process must follow the requirements for public review: meeting fiscal year deadlines, adequate public notice of opportunity for inspection, date of public hearing, and hearing before inspection.


Sources

State Constitution
Revised Statutes
Website of Clerk of Court
Financial Report, Year ended June 30, 2009, Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court
Interview with Louis Perret, Clerk of Court, Lafayette Parish
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