The Clerk of Court is an elected official that serves a four-year term. The Clerk is responsible for all administrative, clerical, and record-keeping functions of the District and Superior Courts. Clerks rely on statutes for their authority.
The Clerk has four main functions:
- Record Keeper
Clerk as Judge
As the Judge of Probate, the Clerk has exclusive original jurisdiction over matters regarding the probate of wills and administration of estates within the county.
The Clerk also presides over many other legal matters, including:
- Minor and adult guardianship proceedings
- Partitions of real property and sale of land to create assets
- Cartway proceedings (right-of-way)
- Legitimations of birth
- Name changes
- Civil hearings such as attachments, claim, and delivery.
In addition, the Clerk has limited authority in criminal matters, i.e., first appearances when the judge is unavailable and issuance of search and arrest warrants.
Clerk as Administrator
Each elected Clerk has a head bookkeeper and a staff of assistant and deputy clerks. They are responsible for assisting the public in filing and accessing court documents, staffing the courtrooms, and performing the many complex duties required to ensure the accuracy of court records and the efficiency of judicial administration.
Clerk as Record Keeper
The Clerk is responsible for processing, filing, indexing, and preserving every piece of paper filed in Durham each year. Except for juvenile files, adoption records, and certain other confidential records, files in the Clerk’s office are public records. The Clerk is responsible for providing equitable and open access to all such court records.
Clerk as Comptroller
The Clerk is responsible for receipting, investing, and disbursing millions of dollars for the state each year. These funds include but are not limited to court fees, traffic citations, fines, forfeitures, restitution, and minor or incompetent funds.
For more information, please refer to North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 7A, Articles 12, 17, 29, and 63.