Catch Up With The Clerk – February 6, 2024

Hello Buncombe Bar! On this week’s edition of Catch Up with the Clerk, I will go over civil record keeping and adoptions. Elana Dasher handles adoptions, and Brenda Davis is our civil records assistant.

Elana started at the Clerk’s Office in August 2003 and became an assistant in 2013. She is married, has no children and 1 dog. She lives in Fairview and has a pool where she spends all of her free time in the summer. Brenda started at the Clerk’s office in 2008 and became an assistant in 2022. Her ancestors migrated to the Mountains of NC in the mid 1700s, and she grew up in Mitchell County. She has two sons and two grandsons. She has a (very old) degree in Business Computer Programing. For relaxation she quilts, crochets, knits, embroider, weave, paint concrete statuaries, read, and listen to music.

One of the main duties of the Clerk’s Office is the record keeper of all court files. The vast majority of the files are public record, with the exceptions being juvenile files, adoption records, special proceeding confidential, and any documents under seal. The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina’s government are property of the people.

Under NCGS § 7A-109 each clerk shall maintain such records, files, dockets and indexes as are prescribed by rules of the Director of the AOC. Except as prohibited by law, these records shall be open to the inspection of the public during regular office hours, and shall include civil actions, special proceedings, estates, criminal actions, juvenile actions, minutes of the court, judgments, liens, lis pendens, and all other records required by law to be maintained.

Our civil records room is the home of all publicly available civil files, unless those files have been brought closer to the court that handles them, such as family court cases or child support cases. Many of our older files are on discs to be examined, but some are on microfiche. We have all records available to view at the moment of the request if at all possible. Every custodian of public records shall permit any public record in the custodian’s custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law.

Adoption is a special proceeding brought by petition before the clerk to establish the legal relationship of parent and child between petitioners(s), as adoptive parent(s), and the adoptee named in the petition, creating the same mutual rights and obligations that exist between children and their biological parents. Both minors and adults may be adopted. Any adult may adopt another individual, but spouses may not adopt each other. A former parent may readopt a minor adoptee or an adult adoptee. Adoption effects complete substitution of families for all legal purposes after the entry of the decree. But adoption does not affect a parent’s pre-adoption child support obligation. If there is an issue of fact, equitable defense, or request for equitable relief, then the clerk shall transfer the matter to district court.

Brenda and Elana, as well as myself and many other assistants, may also sign extensions of time, default judgment and other orders if the documentation in the file supports the motion and proposed order presented to the Clerk.

I will continue to have drop-in hours every Monday from 11:30-1. If you would like to see me but are not available at that time, please email me at jean.m.christy2@nccourts.org or call/text me at 828-713-5289. I look forward to seeing you all March 1, when the Bar is hosting the “Practicing in Front of the Clerk” CLE at 12 p.m. in courtroom 2C.

Catch up with you next week!

–              Jean Marie Christy