By Jerry Hogan
This is the third article that explains the duties and responsibility of the elected officials in Rockwall County. All of the officials responsible for the offices in the first seven articles written for this newspaper are up for election in 2022.
To be listed on the ballot for the office, the individuals must file to run in the later part of this year. So, while the 2022 election may seem far away, decisions must be made shortly as to who is running for the office and, just as important, who you, the citizen will support for the office.
The District Clerk’s office was created by the Texas State Constitution, as was most of the County offices, and the duties revolve around the district and county courts of law.
Specifically, the District Clerk performs the duties of registrar, recorder, and custodian of all court pleadings, instruments, and papers that are part of any legal cause of action in the district and county courts.
They have the responsibility of filing, docketing (assigning a case to a specific court) and keeping all paperwork and documents concerned with felony criminal cases, misdemeanor cases, family cases, juvenile cases, tax cases and civil cases of more than $500.
The District Clerk must record the acts and proceedings of the district court. The Clerk must also enter all judgements of the court under the direction of the judge. They must record all judgements issued and the returns issued on the judgements.
As somewhat of a surprise to many, the Clerk must also administer child support payments and administer trust account for minors which are ordered by the court. The clerk is responsible for keeping an index of the parties to all suits filed and refer to any judgement made in the case.
Additionally the Clerk must maintain an account of all funds collected by the office, by way of fines and fees, and the amount due jurors in District Court for service. The Clerk is also responsible for processing passport applications and for administrating the jury pool of citizens.
The current office of District Clerk is located on the second floor of the new courthouse. The office is composed of 15 individuals and has an annual budget of $1.038 million. The District Clerk’s salary is $96,000 per year with an additional $2,000 authorized for a car and phone allowance.
The current District Clerk is Lea Carlson. She was appointed to the position in 2016 after the retirement of the previous Clerk, Kay McDaniel. She was then elected in 2018 to her current position. Prior to her assuming this duty she was Chief Clerk of the County Clerk’s office and then for two years was the Chief Clerk of the District Clerk’s office.
She is experienced, knowledgeable, easy to deal with, and well-liked and respected. Under her leadership this office is efficient and attuned to the needs of the citizens of the county.
Jerry Hogan is a retired Rockwall County Judge and can be reached at 214-394-4033