The Clerk of the Circuit Court (commonly called the County Clerk) is a constitutional officer elected for a four-year term by the voters of the county at large, but is prohibited from serving more than eight years within a period of 12 years. For services performed ex officio as secretary of the county Election Board and clerk of the Board of Canvassers, the Clerk may receive compensation equal to that of elected members of the election board.
Functions of the Clerk include:
- Attending, either in person or through one of his deputies, all sessions of the Circuit Court and any other county courts.
- Filing, recording, and entering all orders pertaining to civil, juvenile, and criminal matters.
- Issuing letters testamentary, letters of administration, and letters of guardianship; recording wills, inventories of estates, sales bills, inheritance tax orders, final accounts, and reports of distribution in probate proceedings. Money to be held in trust is kept with the Clerk.
- Serving ex officio as a member and secretary of the County Election Board, and as a member and clerk of the County Board of Canvassers.
- Appointing of other members of the County Election Board and the Board of Canvassers. These appointments must be made one from each of the two major political parties from nominations filed in writing by the county chairman of the parties.
- Receiving filings of candidacy from persons seeking certain elective public offices and issuing certificates of election to successful local candidates, except in the cases of judges who receive commissions from the Governor.
- Notifying the custodian of alien property in Washington, D.C., concerning any court action involving the property of an alien.
- In change of venue cases of divorce actions, the Clerk of the court in the county in which the case is heard must notify the Clerk in the county in which the original action was started of the court order or judgment. Payment must be made to the Clerk in the county of the original action.
Licenses and Fees
The Clerk issues marriage licenses, hunting and fishing licenses, and licenses or certificates to practice medicine, surgery, dentistry, optometry, and other professions when applicants present to him certificates from the appropriate state examining boards. He also collects license fees from poultry dealers and junk dealers operating within the county.
The Clerk receipts for and pays out all support monies in dependent cases; files petitions for court determination of time and place of birth and keeps these birth certificate records, sending copies of the certificates to the State Board of Health; administers oaths to appointed officers; files and records notary bonds and applications for patents; executes applications for passports, and distributes printed copies of the state laws. In counties where there is no federal court, the records of naturalization proceedings are kept by the Clerk. He also serves as a member and secretary of the County Commission on Public Records.
County Registration of Voters
Under the voter registration law, the Clerk of the Circuit Court is ex officio registration officer for the county in all counties having a population of less than 125,000 except those that have established a Board of Registration. The Clerk exercises control of registration of voters within the county and has the power of appointment and general supervision of deputy registration officers. The number of deputies appointed must be divided, as nearly equally as possible, between the two major political parties, from information obtained from the respective county chairmen of such parties in writing.
In counties having a population of 125,000 or more, the registration of voters is handled by the board of Registration appointed by the county chairmen of the two major political parties. Counties with a population of under 125,000 may establish such a board by majority vote of the County Commissioners 60 days before the next primary, general or city election. If not a candidate for office, the Clerk may be appointed to this Board, but does not receive any additional compensation. Other appointive members receive salaries set by the County Commissioners within ranges established by law. The precinct committeemen and vice-committeemen of the two major political parties serve as ex officio deputy registration officers. Other deputy registration officers may be employed to a maximum number of two per precinct.
Local police and firemen may be appointed and serve in any office. They may also be candidates for elected offices. In addition, if they are not in uniform and not on duty, they may solicit votes and campaign funds and challenge voters for the office for which they are candidates. The new legislation applies to all officeholders holding offices on the effective dates of this act.
Vacancies in Elective Offices
Vacancies in all elected county, township, city and town, except the offices of Prosecuting Attorney, Clerk of the Circuit court, and Judge of any court, shall be filled for the unexpired term by a caucus. To be eligible as a member of a caucus, a person must:
- Be a member of the same political party as the officer who vacated the office which is to be filled;
- Be the precinct committeeman of a precinct in which voters are eligible to vote for the officer who vacated the office which is to be filled; and
- Have been a precinct committeeman continuously for a period beginning 30 days prior to the date the vacancy occurred until after the caucus has adjourned.
- However, in the event that no person at all is eligible as a member of a caucus under Items 2 and 3 of this section, the chairman shall be deemed to be an ex officio member of the caucus and be entitled to vote.
The Clerk of the Circuit court must prepare budget estimates of the following matters:
- Amount required to pay expenses of cases tried in other counties on changes of venue such as are chargeable under the law against the county from which the change is taken.
- Amount required for the operation of his own office and courts, and for conducting elections.
Information contained herein was taken from:
- County Ordinances of Appropriations and Salary Ordinances
- HERE IS YOUR INDIANA GOVERNMENT which is published by the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce
- Association of Indiana Counties Legislative Bulletin
- INDIANA HANDBOOK OF TAXES, REVENUES, AND APPROPRIATIONS which is published by Indiana Legislative Services Agency, Office of Fiscal Management Analysis