Increasing Access to Justice, Modernization, Cost-Savings, and Reforms
Four years ago when I assumed office, I was then and remain determined today and for the next four years to continue to transform the Clerk of Courts office to work better for you. That is what Good Government is all about, and that alone guides every decision I make as your Clerk of Courts, from increasing access to justice, from driving office modernization and cost-savings to enacting social and criminal justice reforms.
You may never need to use my office – no one wants or expects to be accused of a crime or a victim of a crime. But things happen, people drive impaired, teens make poor decisions, people want to appeal speeding tickets, or you may need to bail a family member out of jail. As the office responsible for ensuring that all the criminal paperwork is filed correctly, rest assured that I put you first as I consistently seek opportunities to make improvements that save you and your lawyers time and money.
My Impact So Far
Under my leadership as the incumbent Clerk of Courts, these are just some of the improvements made:
- Access: I successfully implemented e-filing. Lawyers can now file any time, from anywhere, and can also now access all documents online. Previously every action required a trip to my office.
- Modernization: Rather than mail 12,000 checks and thousands of documents annually, we now scan paper and send payments electronically. We use less paper, ink, envelopes, checks, and stamps.
- Cost-Savings: Access and efficiencies have saved you, the taxpayer, over $160,000 annually.
- Reforms: We now expunge the juvenile records of qualifying low-level offenders who turn 18 but have not initiated the paperwork themselves. No longer will a small mistake hold them back.
Why The Clerk of Courts Matters
Everyone is impacted by the office, either directly as a user or indirectly as a taxpayer. The Clerks of Courts plays an important role in assuring that everyone gets their day in court, a fundamental right. With 29 people, every year we handle 6,000 new cases with collections of fees and fines of $6 million, restitution of $1 million, bail of $30 million, we staff 21,000 court hearings, we expunge over 1,000 records and we store physical evidence including guns, drugs, and money. To see more, please visit the recently updated and improved official Clerk of Courts homepage.
The Future Is Bright
While I have made great strides over the past four years, there is more to do! With your help, I am ready to build on the progress I have made. Please vote to reelect me!
Learn more about Yolanda (who was first elected Clerk of Courts in 2017) here. What does the Clerk of Courts do?
The County Clerk of Courts manages paperwork for criminal court filings and records in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, handling 6,000 cases each year. The office also staffs all criminal, juvenile and dependency hearings for the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. It assesses fines, costs and restitution and collects fees in conjunction with the Chester County Adult Probation and Parole Department. It collects bail money and returns it upon completion of court action; and it maintains records and dockets for a variety of matters including constables and private detectives.
If you’d like more details about how Yolanda’s work has saved taxpayers $160,000+ annually and streamlined services to make the administration of justice more efficient and accurate, read on.
- Implemented e-filing and electronic records management. Savings: $100K+ in cloud storage. Also provides attorneys electronic access to documents on their cases and eliminates the need to drive or walk to our office to file every single piece of paper.
- Automated appeals submissions to Superior Court. Savings: $5K postage.
- Scanned expungement paperwork rather than mail to 9 of 11 agencies. Savings: $10K.
- Scanned paperwork to internal partners rather than printing to send interoffice.
- Scanned files as PDFAs and shredded them, finally creating much needed space for new files.
- Updated bank accounts. Earnings: $11K.
- Streamlined banking by eliminating the issuance of over 8,000 checks annually. Savings: $5K.
- Questioned deposits revealing previously unrecognized revenue: Over $26K annually.
- Eliminated expensive outdated warranties. Savings: $4K.
- Uncovered potential revenue from bail forfeitures from surety companies when defendants fail to appear. This process had not been followed since 2015.
- Documented detailed financial, budget, and operating processes to ensure understanding and accuracy (sources of revenue, flow of funds in 6 bank accounts, bail forfeiture process, etc.).
- Updated our website to make it more useful to the public.
- Provided resource information (Legal Aid, etc.) to the public.
- Allowed credit card payments (convenience fees paid by customers, not County).
- Initiated process to accept bail 24/7 rather than only during business hours so people spend the least amount of time possible in jail
- Expunged juvenile records when low-level offenders who qualify turn 18 if they have neglected to initiate the paperwork themselves.
- Paid crime victims by debit card instead of check to provide them with instant funds.
- Facilitated Violence Interruption Court w/ Yale School of Medicine, first national pilot program.
- Mentored CCIU students with disabilities through internships.
- Provided internships to college students earning criminal justice degrees.
- Vetted detectives’ license applications properly to ensure public safety.
- Helped a nonprofit aid indigent people obtain pardons by providing necessary files at no cost.