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Circuit clerk plans internship program

January 27, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The concrete vault that stores circuit court documents is bulging, but Morgan County Circuit Clerk Kimberly Jackson has found a way to fix it with the help of college students.

Jackson said students from Shepherd University and Blue Ridge Community and Technical College are interested in fulfilling needed intern hours to complete their studies. One intern who is studying to become a paralegal needs 150 hours.

She said the students can learn from the records-management process.

"We all win," she said.

"As soon as the schools have interns available, we are ready to start," Jackson said.

No salary is involved, she said.

The first priority is updating a 16-drawer index card file, with each card representing a court document, Jackson said. The court documents fall into different types, and it is a slow process, she said. Every file is researched and put into the appropriate category.

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The records retention schedule was set by the West Virginia Supreme Court and is part of the records management program.

For instance, any court document dealing with land must be kept forever and it stays in the vault, Jackson said. Felony cases must be kept for 75 years, she said, but misdemeanor cases only need to be kept for 10 years.

Some documents can be destroyed, such as a dismissal. Documents that have historical value are sent to the state's Division of Culture and History.

However, all orders will be kept in permanent order books in the Morgan County vault and by law will never be destroyed, she said.

"If anyone in our office needs to know the status of a court document, the information will be on the index card," she said.

"It is important to be as efficient as we can; it saves us time and it saves the public time," Jackson said.

When the state archives' staff helped remove court files from the old vault after the 2006 courthouse fire, Jackson saw how efficiently the process could be done with two people working together.

Jackson said she has applied for a grant for a high-density filing system for the new courthouse circuit clerk vault that will conserve space for effective records management.

"I love public service and that is why I am very passionate about this project," she said.

Morgan County Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said she thought the internship program was a good idea, one that could be used in other county offices.

Jackson was appointed to her position in September 2003 by 23rd Circuit Judge David Sanders. She ran for the office and won the seat in 2004. She said she will run for re-election in 2010.

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