District Court Clerk
Who Is the Clerk of Court?
Simply stated, the role of the Clerk of Court is the keeper of the official court record. The clerks’ duties vary in the Municipal, Justice of the Peace or JP, Circuit and Small Claims, District and Juvenile, and Supreme Courts because the responsibilities of each court are different. The Wyoming Statutes and the Wyoming Court Rules specifically define some of the clerks’ duties in each of these courts. The Municipal, Circuit and Supreme Court Clerks are appointed by the judges of those courts. The District Court Clerk is a constitutional position and in each county a District Court Clerk is elected by the registered voters every four years in the general elections.
Each clerk maintains the records and books of the court, receives all cases filed therein, properly records and attends to the same, and has the care and custody of all the records, seal, books, papers and property pertaining to that office or court. They receive, account for and pay over all money that comes into the possession of the court according to law, and under the orders or decrees of the court. The clerk maintains the records in criminal cases, including receipting and distributing restitution and fines.
The Wyoming Supreme Court generally serves as an appellate court. The function of this court is to review the actions of a lower court in order to correct mistakes or injustice. The Clerk of the Supreme Court dockets the paperwork in appealed cases, receives the court records from the district court clerks, monitors the case time line and assists the public and attorneys in the appeal process. The District Court also serves as an appellate court for the judicial review of administrative agency decisions and appeals from the courts of limited jurisdiction. Therefore, the clerk of each court has a role in the appellate process and must comply with the appellate rules of procedure for handling the records of an agency or court from which the appeal is brought, either in submitting records from the clerk’s court to a higher court or in receiving records from an agency or lower court.
The clerks in Circuit or Municipal Courts, courts of limited jurisdiction, are responsible for the records in misdemeanor criminal matters. Circuit Court clerks also handle records in civil matters with monetary values less than $50,000. The clerks in Municipal Courts deal only with records for cases dealing with violations of municipal ordinances. In addition to civil matters over $50,000 and felony criminal cases, the District Court Clerk is responsible for the records in all family law, juvenile, probate, and adoption cases.
Municipal and Circuit Court Clerks receipt traffic fines for citations before that clerk’s respective court. The Clerk of District Court has the additional duties of receiving and distributing child support and accepting passport applications. Each clerk is in charge of selecting and maintaining a jury panel for each term of court.
The clerk of court is often asked to help or advise persons about how to proceed before the court in a pending case. The role of the clerk as the record-keeper of the court is clearly defined by law; although each clerk may have considerable knowledge about the law and legal proceedings, their role is not to act as a legal advisor or to provide legal guidance to parties in matters before the court. The clerk may guide persons on strictly procedural concerns such as fees, filing documents, number of copies to be submitted, and other related aspects of the roles and duties of the clerk’s particular office.