The Clerk's Role as Public Trustee

 

Why a Public Trustee?

The concept of "checks and balances" is one of the major political doctrines which form the very foundation of the American system of government.

Provisions of the Florida Constitutions of 1838, established the Clerk of the Circuit Court as an elected public trustee and set in place at the county level a system of "checks and balances" which has been proven to serve the public for over 150 years.

The role as Public Trustee is evidenced as follows:

COUNTY GOVERNMENT

  • Accountant and Auditor for the Board of County Commissioners.
  • Collector and Distributor of Statutory Assessments.
  • Guardian of the Public Records, Public Funds, and Public Property.

COURTS

  • Ensures that the Court's Orders, Judgments or Directives are Carried out within the Parameters Allowed by Law.
  • Maintains the Court's Records.
  • Collects and Disburses the Court Fines, Fees and Assessments.
  • Collects and Disburses Court Ordered Child Support and Alimony Payments

STATE GOVERNMENT

  • Collects and Disburses Documentary Stamps and Intangible Taxes for the Department of Revenue.
  • Collects and Disburses Numerous Fees and Assessments for the Benefit of State Trust Funds.
  • Provides Informational, Financial and Statistical Data to the State Legislature, Supreme Court, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Auditor General, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, and Other State Agencies.

CITIZENS' PROTECTION

  • As Custodian of County Funds, the Clerk Ensures that the Taxpayer's Money is Managed According to Law.
  • Provides Internal Audits of County Government.
  • Provides Access to Public Records.
  • Audits Reports of Guardians in Guardianship Cases.
  • Provides Assistance to Citizens in Accessing the Courts.
  • Processes and Maintains Court Documents to Ensure that Litigant's Court Cases are Handled in a timely Manner.

ACCOUNTABILITY AS A PUBLIC TRUSTEE

  • The Office of the Clerk is a complex organization that performs a wide range of record keeping, information management and financial management in the judicial system and county government
  • In a study conducted by the Joint select Committee on Judicial Personnel of the Legislature, it was calculated that the Clerk's office performs 926 different constitutional and statutory functions or duties.
  • With the magnitude of the impact the Clerk's duties have on the peoples' rights and property it is essential that the Clerk be accountable for his/her actions.
  • Thus, the constitution and statutes decree that:
  • The Clerk be governed by statutory authority in carrying out the duties and functions of the office.
  • As auditor and custodian of all county funds, the clerk be subject to State Auditor General rules and regulations.
  • The Clerk be subject to annual audits by an independent audit firm.

MOST IMPORTANT

Accountability is further derived by the Clerks' duties and actions being constantly subjected to public evaluation and scrutiny through the election process every four (4) years.

The Constitution of the State of Florida

"A public office is a public trust. The people have the right to secure and sustain that trust." ARTICLE I, SECTION 8

"There shall be in each county a Clerk of the Circuit Court who shall be selected pursuant to the provisions of Article VIII, Section I." ARTICLE V, SECTION 16

"The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall be Ex-officio Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, Auditor, Recorder and Custodian of all County funds" ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 1(d)

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The Florida Local Government Investment Trust (Florida Trust) is a local government investment pool developed through the joint efforts of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers (FCCC) and the Florida Association of Counties (FAC).

Organized on December 12, 1991, the Florida Trust is designed to compliment existing investment programs by providing an investment vehicle for funds that can be invested on a short to intermediate term in securities with maturities and returns generally greater than those of money market instruments. The Florida Trust is an open ended, professionally managed fund available only to public entities in Florida.


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