Clerk of Court/Recorder

Clerk of Court

District courts are the key elements in the judicial system established in 1995. With the elimination of county courts, district courts became responsible for the workload and positions of the county courts. The Clerks of Court Association was formed in 1952 as the N.D. County Judges Association. Later, a separate organization was formed for clerks of district, county, municipal and Supreme courts.

The clerk of district court could well be called "Custodian of Court Files" because much of the clerk's time is spent working with legal records. It is an important job because maintaining accurate, updated and accessible records helps bring efficient delivery of judicial services.


District Court

Clerks of district court must summon jurors, maintain exhibits and attend court when it is in session. But their primary responsibility is administration of court records.

These records fall into several categories:

  • Civil Actions area proceedings concerning the rights of private individuals. They include divorces, foreclosures, and personal injury/property damage cases.
  • Restricted Action files aren't open to the public. They include formal juvenile proceedings, adoptions and aternity suits.
  • Criminal Actions, or felonies, are handled in district court. These serious crimes include murder, gross sexual imposition and burglary.
  • Child Support: Because of the number of divorces and a growing number of state and federal laws, the number of child support cases has expanded faster than other court responsibilities.
  • Passports: Clerk of district court are designated agents for U.S.A. passports.
  • Vital Records: Birth and death certificates are registered and burial permits issued.

In counties where the population is less than 6,000, one person acts as a clerk of district court and county recorder.

The 1989 Legislature opened the way for district clerks of court to become state employees. The county commission must initiate the transfer, which needs the approval of the state Supreme Court. Funding for the move must be appropriated by the Legislature.

District courts are part of the court system that includes the state supreme courts and municipal courts.

 

County Recorder

The County Recorder's Office is one of the offices formally organized by the Constitutional Convention of 1889, and in some counties existed as part of the Territorial Offices. County Recorder officers are elected to four-year terms which begin January 1. In a few counties the position is appointed, but election remains the predominant method for citizens to select a recorder. Some counties have combined the recorder position with either the clerk of court or treasurer.

The information filed and recorded in the recorders office is used by the auditor, treasurer, commissioners and other county officials, along with the general public and business entities. The real estate record is the basis for the auditor's assessment rolls and the tax collection process of the treasurer.

The County Recorders Association was organized in 1929 to help North Dakota's 53 counties keep up-to-date with changes in methods of recording and with changes in laws affecting their offices. The County Recorders Association also monitors and proposes legislation to better serve the state. An annual summer meeting is held along with training sessions and Quad meetings.


County Recorder Duties

  • Keep a record of each patent, deed, mortgage, bill of sale, security agreement, judgment, decree, lien, certificate of sale and other instruments required to be filed or recorded in proper books provided for such recording, upon receipt of the filing or recording fees.
  • Each recorded document shall also state the date, hour and minute of the date when it was filed, the document number, the book of records in which it is recorded and the page upon which it is recorded.
  • Maintain a reception book, grantor/grantee index and land tract index.
  • Assist the public in finding information as found in the real estate records.