Editor’s note: This is one in a series of question and answer articles about local candidates running for office. The Northern Virginia Daily asked candidates three questions. The unedited responses are below.
The seat for Warren County Circuit Court clerk is open in a special election as former Clerk Darryl Funk vacated his seat after being named a juvenile and domestic relations court judge. Interim Warren County Circuit Court Clerk Janice Shanks is running for the seat against Stephen Jerome and Angie Moore.
How does your job experience make you the best-fit candidate for the job?
The Warren County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office employs a staff of 10 and performs more varied functions than any other office in the County.
I have superior skills and the experience necessary for this important position. With my late husband, I ran a local restaurant and catering business, where we had a staff of 30+ employees. During this time, I took courses in business management and public relations. In 1999, I became a court reporter and over the next 16 years appeared in every Circuit Court in the 26th Circuit. I worked with all of the Circuit Court judges and their clerks, as well as the Commonwealth’s Attorneys and many of the trial lawyers in the 7 jurisdictions in the Circuit. I have served as confidential secretary to the resident judge of the Warren County Circuit Court. I am blessed to have been mentored by Judge Daryl Funk and his predecessor Jennifer Sims. I have been trained by the Virginia Supreme Court in the responsibilities and management of the enormous amount of data processed through my office. I am currently managing the vast amount of information filed through the Circuit Court for the Special Grand Jury. This unhappy experience in our community has affected our lives in ways that we could never have imagined. One can only speculate how long this will take to unravel and resolve. I have no conflicts that could impair the work of the Clerk’s Office while this process proceeds to its conclusion.
My impeccable work history is reflected by my work ethic and integrity. I am the only candidate who has had sole managerial experience for a staff of this size. I have a proven ability to work with the public in difficult and sensitive matters. Indeed, my entire work life has been in the public eye, from my earliest days with the Chamber of Commerce, to the Warren Memorial Hospital and the medical community, to the restaurant business, to my work in the court system and to the present as Clerk of the Warren County Circuit Court. I am at heart “a people person.”
What services does the clerk's office provide and how do you plan to improve those services?
The Circuit Court is charged with more than 800 statutory responsibilities.
The three broad areas of responsibility are: Judicial, Non-Judicial and Fiscal.
Judicial means the civil and criminal litigation, including felony and misdemeanor prosecutions, all court proceedings, including trials. We are responsible for the issuance of legal process for all of these cases, the management of all court filings, scanning of all the documents, the subpoenas for civil and criminal juries, regular and Special Grand Juries, assistance to judges, law enforcement, the legal community and the public. In 2018, there were 1,164 criminal cases prosecuted and 656 civil law cases processed.
Non-Judicial services include acting as probate judge for the administration of wills and estates, recording and maintenance of all deeds and land records, deeds of trust, financing statements, judgments, business filings, issuance of marriage licenses, concealed weapons permits, fictitious name filings, administration of oaths and bonds for ministers, notaries, elected and appointed officials and Board members, and law enforcement officers, and maintains election archives. In 2018 there were 6,561 deeds recorded, 1,193 judgments docketed, 184 fictitious names, 309 marriage licenses issued and 1,090 concealed handgun permits granted.
Fiscal means the collection and disbursement of civil filing and recording fees, real estate transfer fees, recordation taxes and other fees mandated by statute, the collection of fines, costs, victim restitution payments and their disbursement, and acting as General Receiver for Court-ordered settlements, and the maintenance and investment of such funds.
As Clerk, I have already installed a Docket Monitor Display outside the Circuit Courtrooms to assist the public, litigants and their counsel with easy access to hearing times and courtroom designation.
I intend to provide instructional guides for use of record room computers and books.
A Clerk’s Information Area to aid pro se litigants and the public in various aspects of the law with “free” pamphlets provided by the Virginia State Bar is being installed.
The deputy clerks provide exemplary customer service in our office, which is a top priority.
A comprehensive review of our outdated telephone system is in progress and will enhance our timely response to customer inquiries.
If elected, what goals do you hope to accomplish?
I have specific plans for improvement of our office to provide more user-friendly and efficient access to our records and our services.
For the public:
• Initiate e-Recording of Land Records
• Create “e-debit” accounts to streamline charges for copying records in the Clerk’s office
• Create user-friendly kiosks for marriage licenses, etc. to facilitate the ease of transactions
For the judicial system:
• Update technology in the Courtrooms
• Streamline the jury selection and notification process
• In carefully reviewing the expenditures submitted to the State, I determined that over $12,000 was due for reimbursement to the County and I made application for those funds, which were remitted to the County. I will continue to be very conscious of our County budget, while maintaining an efficient and productive office.
• Continue to receive outstanding scores on the audit of my office performed annually by the Virginia Supreme Court.