Duties and Responsibilities of the Clerk of Superior Court
North Carolina is unique in that it is the only state in the country where the Clerk of Superior Court is a Judicial Official with numerous judicial functions, including:
Judge of Probate: The Clerk is the Ex Officio Judge of Probate and as such handles the probate of wills and the administration of estates of decedents, minors and incompetents, and appoints guardians. The Clerk hears a variety of estate and trust proceedings including the appointment of executors, administrators, trustees and guardians, and matters relating to the determination of heirs, construction of wills, preservation of estate assets, auditing of estate accounts, among other things. The Clerk also presides over adoptions, competency determinations, legitimations, judicial sale of real property, power of attorney disputes, land partitions, land condemnation, cartway proceedings, name changes, foreclosures, and many other civil hearings. The Clerk presides over jury trials for incompetency and restoration of competency matters. The Clerk conducts waiver of extradition hearings when an offender is arrested in this state and waives extradition to the home state. The Clerk holds the hearing and reads the offender their rights.
Other matters the Clerk of Court has authority to conduct: first appearances when a district court judge is not available; issues warrants for arrest in the state, and search warrants in the county; take guilty pleas for hunting, fishing, and boating violations, alcohol beverage control offenses, and violations of the worthless check statute; issues custody orders for involuntary commitment; appoints mediators in matters before the Clerk.
Comptroller: The Clerk receives, invests, and disburses funds collected from court related activity, such as fines, traffic citations and court costs, restitution, minor trust accounts, surplus funds in estates and foreclosures, posting of property bonds, and claims of lien. More than $7,000,000 in court related receipts flows through the Craven County Courthouse on a yearly basis and is receipted in by the Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court’s office is audited every 4 years and the Craven County Clerk of Court has received clean audits with no findings in 2014 and 2018.
Administrator: The Clerk issues summonses, sets up the court files, dockets and indexes case files, and issues subpoenas. The Clerk also grants extensions of time and enters certain other orders in civil matters as allowed by statute.
Record Keeper: The Clerk is responsible for all clerical and record keeping functions of the superior court and district court, and staffs the courtrooms to assist the presiding judges during court related activity. The Clerk secures and maintains all matters filed in the Clerk’s office. The Clerk supervises the jury service system that randomly issues summonses to residents of Craven County between one and three times per month. The Clerk processes orientation for the jury pool for civil and criminal trials, and Grand Jury.
Supervisor: The Clerk supervises and manages a staff of 28 assistant and deputy clerks who work in the various divisions: estates, special proceedings, civil, child support, criminal, juvenile, bookkeeping and cashier.
The Clerk of Court staffs 6 courtrooms with a Clerk to assist District and Superior Court Judges during court sessions.