Most courts in the United States are referred to as courts of records, to imply that they are required by law to keep clear and concise records about their proceedings. Within the court set ups, it is the duty of the clerks of courts to systematically keep all the records and ensure their prompt availability whenever they are needed. So what kind of record does a clerk of court keep within the United States judicial system?
Dockets refer to records of proceedings of a court case. Whenever a court agrees to hear a case, it will be placed in the court docket until the trial begins. There may be several dockets to contain documents for different types of cases. The most common dockets include civil, criminal, equity, miscellaneous, claims, tax foreclosures and estates dockets. It is the duty of the clerk of court to ensure that all the dockets are well maintained and it is easy to retrieve any piece of information needed from them.
Court minutes contain all the actions of the court as recorded by the clerk of court during the proceedings. Such minutes usually reflect on a variety of matters including but not limited to criminal cases, civil suits as well as settlement of estates. In essence, a wide range of the court’s activities will always be captured in the court minutes and this is the sole responsibility of the clerks of court.
Orders have to be recorded by the courts for future references. The orders kept by the clerks of court also include executions usually captured separately from the orders. They are in most cases directed towards enforcing agencies such as marshal, sheriff, or constables to facilitate their enforcement.
Judgments are crucial records which must be meticulously kept by every court. Once a judgment is given out by a court of law, it is the duty of the clerk of court to write an extensive minute entry, including abridgements of the case as well as its resolution in the book of judgment. Such records of judgments are always legal sources for the members of the bench and attorneys since they can be used as references during future similar cases.
Case files are one of the most valuable records any court will ever have. This is due to the nature and importance of the documents they hold. These include original copies of evidence, subpoenas, writs, publications, testimonies etc. The files will also have the finer details of the cases that never made it to the orders, minutes or judgments.
Most courts prefer to reimburse witnesses to encourage those who have to travel long distances or leave work to show up for hearings. It is the duty of the clerk of court to keep the lists of witnesses showing important details such as their names, addresses, ages, as well as the amounts they received in payment.
Jury records are recorded in the jury books and they contain the names of jurors who served on a particular case, the case number, the court terms, and the number of jurors. Jury records are not just important for future references on concluded cases, but also they are used by the courts in determining the roll call of jurors for the purposes of reimbursement.
The other types of records likely to be kept by clerk of court include sheriff records such as the records produced as court executives as well as those produced as law enforcement.