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Voters Guide

Nueces County District Clerk

District ClerkDescription of OfficeServes as clerk and custodian of all records for the District Courts.Indexes and secures all court records, collects filing fees, and handles funds held in litigation and money awarded to minors.Coordinates the jury panel selection process.May process passport applications.Manages court registry funds.Terms of Service:Term: 4 yearsTerm limits: NoResident of Nueces County: YesSalary: $85,148

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    Gerald Garza

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    Anne Lorentzen

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Biographical Information

Describe your credentials and life experiences that qualify you to hold this office.

What are the duties of the District Clerk?

How would you rate the effectiveness and efficiency of the Nueces County Pre-Trial Assessment Initiative?

Explain your answer.

The online jury impaneling process for Nueces County has been in place for over one year. What is working well with the online process, and/or, what would you change?

If elected, what would be your top three (3) priorities to maintain and/or improve the services provided by the District Clerk office?

I have an accounting degree from the University of Texas at Austin, I am certified as a public manager in public administration and I have 10 years experience as the chief administrator for this office. I also have experience working with a CPA firm and a private investment company.
The District Clerk oversees an office of over 60 people and a budget close to 4 million dollars. The Clerk's staff is responsible for filing and maintaining all court records in both the county and district courts for Nueces County. This includes all civil, criminal and probate cases. The office is also responsible for maintaining minor trust accounts setup thru the courts and issuing jury summons.
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Looking from the outside, it is hard to adequately rate the effectiveness of this initiative in our county, especially as it relates to the district clerk's office. The program itself, supported by legal organizations across the country, was built on research that indicated it would be a win, win program. It would expedited the release of defendants, thereby reducing the jail population, and in turn, save the county money.
Again, looking from the outside, I believe the new system is working, and in turn, saving the county money. As far as change, I would want to avoid the same problems they are now encountering with the court's case management system; which is, a failure to continue training and to expand on any available apps that would add improvements or additional savings to our tax dollars.
(1) Improve staff training on basics; relying on technology loses the reason why something should be done, as a result, mistakes are made that cost time and money. (2) Improve the case management system by increasing attorney access to information on-line. Too much time is lost retrieving information the attorneys should be able to retrieve themselves. (3) Re-install a chain of command in the office that will provide alternatives to handling public complaints and improve communication between the community, the courts and even the staff.
Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Texas at El Paso. Legal secretary for two civil and family law firms. Executive Secretary to Hon. William S. Sessions, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Texas. Left the legal field to work for Lanier Business Products in Harlingen, Texas, selling word processors across the Rio Grande Valley. Promoted to Corpus Christi office. Became Office Manager for the Division Office of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco for 10 years. Nueces County Court Administrator for 20 years. District Clerk since January 1, 2015.
Provide clerk staff to 13 courts for assistance in case dispositions; mark date of receipt of all court documents filed in cases; retrieve documents for public information requests; properly store cases during their lifetime; maintain proper accounting procedures regarding the Office's financial responsibilities; prepare office budget that stays within the budget controls of Commissioners Court; gather data to report to several state and local agencies; act as officer in charge of jury selection process.
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Very effective, efficient and has saved taxpayers money. Defendants arrested on felony charges are interviewed by the pre-trial assessment team who in turn generate a report for District Courts. Report tells District Judge if the defendant is a low or high risk offender depending on their criminal history, The type of charge is strongly taken into consideration. This report allows the judge to set bail (bond) consistent with a defendant's criminal history. The misdemeanor arrests are what has the jail at a high occupancy, not the felony arrests.
What was noticed right away with the online jury impaneling was saving the County over $350,000.00 in costs, i.e. postage, reduced number of jury summonses sent, and jury pay. Jurors that are assigned to a panel through the online feature are sent a text as to date, time and what court to report to bypassing the Central Jury Room. When a panel is cancelled, jurors receive a text not to show, saving them a trip to the courthouse. Has saved employers and their employees time away from work.
Finish the project of making court documents filed into the Odyssey Case Management System available online to judges and attorneys of record through the District Clerk Case Search Portal. Allows access to documents 24/7;

Revise all job descriptions to fit the actual job duties of each clerk, including needed technological skills. Work with Human Resources to reclassify positions to increase base pay.

Implement a plan for digitizing and properly storing the District Clerk's 150 year old archives.