Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Jennifer Knox
Legal name, if different: Jennifer Jane Knox
Date of Birth: 5/3/1974
Campaign Web Site: http://www.knoxforclerk.com
Occupation & Employer: District Court Judge, State of North Carolina
Cell Phone: 919.624.5171
1.What do you think are the most important issues facing Wake County Superior Court?
Technology- Our computer systems are woefully outdated, and this hampers our efficiency. The next Clerk needs to lead the charge to bring electronic filing to our court system to allow the court to accept filings and provide access to filed documents over the internet. We need to take a look at all of our procedures to ensure that not only are we maximizing our efficiency, but that we are also making the judicial system accessible to everyone- both lawyers and non-lawyers, and both rich and poor. In addition, we need a leader with the skills to manage the large (160 employees) office.
2. What in your capacity as an administrator or other experience qualifies you to serve as Clerk of Superior Court?
I have been a District Court Judge in Wake County for the last 10 years. As a Judge, I sit beside a clerk every day, and see which procedures work, and which do not. I have presided in every type of court we have in Wake County, and have personal knowledge not only of how things work, but of who the employees in the Clerk’s office are, both as workers and as people. In addition, as a Judge, I know how to make legal decisions- how to apply the facts to the law of a case. The Clerk of Superior Court has original jurisdiction over adoptions, guardianship proceedings, foreclosures, and the probate of wills. My vast judicial experience will serve me well in handling these judicial functions of the Clerk of Superior Court.
3. Do you think more hiring is needed in the Wake County court system? What else could be improved?
We can always use more employees, especially in Wake County, where our criminal filings alone average between 110,000-120,000 every year. Unlike in some smaller counties, we hold court in almost every courtroom all day long. It’s really difficult to train and cross-train employees when they never get a day out of court.
We also need to update our technology in the Court system. Our current record-keeping system was implemented in 1981 and no longer fits our needs. In addition, the current system makes double-checking the input of data extremely time-consuming, thus making it difficult to prevent and detect fraud. We also need to implement an E-filing system, much like the Federal courts use.
I also think that it is a good time for a new set of eyes to review all of our court procedures to ensure that we are doing things in the most efficient and effective way. Too often in government things are done simply because that’s the way we’ve always done them, without regard for whether it’s the best way.
4. How would you define yourself politically? Do you think a person’s political philosophy is relevant to their role as Clerk of Superior Court? If so, how?
I believe in good government, meaning that those in power should always be mindful of the citizens they serve, and should make good, efficient use of their tax dollars. I think that those who work in government should understand that it is an honor to be a public servant, and to whom much is given, much is expected.
I do not believe that politics should have any part in the role of Clerk of Superior Court. In my tenure as an elected Judge, I have prided myself on not letting politics play any role in my judicial duties. The Clerk should serve ALL of the people, and leave politics to the people who make the laws.
5. As voters approach this race in a primary, what sets you apart from the other candidates in this race?
I absolutely believe that the Clerk of Superior Court should be a lawyer. There are too many functions of the Clerk that require legal skills and experience. This is not a job for someone with little to no legal experience. It is too important for the citizens of Wake County. I am the only lawyer in this primary, and the only Judge in the race.
6. What, if anything, do you think voters should know about the position of Clerk of Superior Court?
The Clerk of Superior Court is responsible for all of the administrative, clerical and record-keeping functions of the district and superior courts. In addition, the Clerk receives and disburses the money collected each year from court fees and fines. The Clerk also presides over many unique legal cases including adoptions, incompetency and guardianship proceedings, the condemnation of private lands for public use, and foreclosures. In Wake County, the Clerk supervises a large office of around 160 employees.
The person who is elected to serve as the Clerk should be an experienced lawyer who is well-respected within the Court system, has the temperament to handle the human resources issues that come with running a large office, and who can make the tough decisions that are required in such an important position within our Court system.