Sarasota Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller

About Sarasota Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller

The Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller is characterized as one whose duties are not purely ministerial, but rather an integral part of the entire county governmental process. As an officer of the court, the Clerk is endowed with certain authority to aid and promote the judicial process. Additionally, the Clerk's authority as an Elected County Officer, with responsibilities as auditor and custodian of all county funds, allows the Clerk to provide a check and balance function on behalf of local government and the citizens of Sarasota County, Florida.

The origins of the Clerk of Court's office extend into early English history. In times past, the custody of court records was entrusted to one of the judges. However, it soon became apparent that the judge alone was unable to preside over the argument, record the proceedings and issue writs. Consequently, the Office of the Clerk of Courts was created. Subordinate judicial officials were chosen from among the clergy, the only literate group at the time. Thus, the name clerk is derived from the Latin "clericus", meaning clergyman. In the English colonies, officers of the common pleas courts were known as county clerks, a title that continues to be used in most states today.

The functions and duties of Clerks vary from state to state. In most jurisdictions, the Clerk is generally vested with a large number of administrative duties. In Florida, the Clerk of the Circuit Court is a constitutional officer created by Article V, Section 16, of the Constitution of the State of Florida. In Sarasota County, Florida, the Clerk is not only Clerk of the Circuit and County Court, but also the County Treasurer, Recorder, Auditor, Finance Officer and Ex-Officio Clerk of the County Commission.

In a study done by the Joint Select Committee on Judicial Personnel of the Florida Legislature, it was calculated that the Clerk's office performs 926 different tasks. Since then, these tasks have continued to grow with changes in legislation, regulations, and reporting requirements. Some of the more significant duties of the Clerk are summarized here.

1. Duties as a Member of the Court:

-Attend each session of court
-File indictments, information, and verdicts
-Process all civil and criminal cases
-Prepare records for the court of appeals
-Oversee jury selection
-Receive payments for fines, fees, court costs, alimony and victim restitution
-Disburse judicial funds
-Supervise the processing of fines and forfeitures
-Conduct real property foreclosure sales
-Receive and audit guardianship annual reports
-Issue marriage licenses

2. Duties as County Recorder:

-Process tax deed applications and conduct sales
-Record and index deeds, mortgages and descriptions of all county property
-Record all tax liens and claims against estates, instruments of conveyance, agreements, contracts, maps and plats of subdivisions and surveys
-Maintain public microfilm libraries and a records storage facility
-Process passports
-Administer records management services for county offices under the Board of County Commissioners

3. Duties as Ex-Officio Clerk and Accountant to the Board of County Commissioners:

-Attend all meetings of the Board of County Commissioners, and committees of the Board, as directed
-Produce, record, index and distribute the official minutes of these meetings
-Maintain legal custody of the Official County Seal
-Serve as custodian of all county resolutions, ordinances and contracts
-Process appeals before the Value Adjustment Board
-Serve as Clerk and Recording Secretary to the Value Adjustment Board, Charter Review Board, and the Code Enforcement Magistrate

4. Duties as Custodian of County Funds and County Auditor:

-Provide accounting services to county departments under the Board of County Commissioners
-Provide accounting treatment for all fiscal changes implemented by the Board
-Investment of available county funds
-Provide financial reporting to the Board and all federal and state agencies
-Process accounts payable
-Audit all county expenditures
-Process county payroll
-Review county government management and accounting controls


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September 2019 Sarasota, FL
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