Thursday, October 21, 2010
Marshall County Justice Court stands proud
By SUE WATSON
There are some changes and upgrades in technologies, but many of the facts about Marshall County Justice Court are directly connected with the people served and those providing the service.
Justice court clerk Monet Autry, appointed by the board of supervisors 10 years ago, said she has seen many positive changes in the court’s operations.
Facts: In 10 years the court has served 6,000 clients a year or 60,000 clients total; online payments of court assessments (fines/fees) has taken in $77,000 in the last year and is convenient for the client; clients can pay by credit card or monthly avoiding the necessity of lump sum payments; $7 million in fees and fines has been collected in 10 years; there is an increase in case load, particularly in the area of domestic violence; the court will add new technology that will permit scanning in protective orders to the attorney general’s office; electronic citations will soon be sent from officers directly in the form of electronic tickets.
The court also works with attorneys online to assure they have their clients’ documents on time.
Autry earned a bachelor’s of business administration from the University of Mississippi in August 1982. She was appointed court clerk on February 14, 2000, and received national certification as court administrator in May 2004. She works with four deputy clerks, two constables, two judges and one part-time employee provided by Experience Works - Brankley Spight.
Deputy clerk Mae Garrison came to the court as deputy on April 1, 1987. She handles criminal cases such as assaults and burglaries, takes affidavits and bonds, receives DUI tickets and citations written by officers with fish and game and handles fish and game licenses, and receives ABC citations and affidavits from the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Garrison prepares court dockets for prosecutors and judges.
Civil court cases are handled by Johnnie Ree Bagley, who joined the staff five years ago as deputy clerk. Domestic abuse protection orders make up part of her case load. She also handles replevins (reposessions) and evictions.
In her five years as deputy, she said domestic abuse protection orders have escalated significantly.
“Nine times out of 10 they turn into criminal cases,” she said.
Bagley prepares the civil court docket, types judges’ orders and finds safe homes for abused women and children and the occasional cases of abused men.
“I was thinking I was doing mediocre stuff but the volume has changed tremendously since I arrived,” Bagley said.
Busiest times are from March through October.
Autry said she loves public service work.
“It is like I was born to work with the public,” she said.
She worked as a librarian for Rust College 14 years and for DHS three years before coming to justice court.
What she loves about her work is that people who come to court are treated with dignity and respect.
Bagley said she enjoys meeting and greeting others and getting a chance to minister to others. People move her deeply, she said.
Garrison said her joy is in working with the public and trying to help those who come to criminal court. She also comforts victims.
“I try to help them with their situation,” she said.
Lequanda Isom handles all the traffic citations written by the highway patrol and by the county law officers. She processes about 500 tickets by hand a month or about 90 cases each traffic court or about 200 cases per month.
With new technology coming to the system, tickets will soon be sent by the officer electronically and individuals will be able to pay their fines online and have their driver's licenses reinstated, she said. That means the individual will not have to come to justice court and miss days of work to pay their fine and recover their license, she said.
Isom joined the justice court staff January 1, 2005.
The latest arrival at justice court is Kali Rowland, who came to work as deputy clerk August 2. Her prior employment has been with Smith/Whaley Law Firm where she was filing clerk for a year and a half.
Marshall County prosecutor Shirley Byers said her duties are three-fold – to act as prosecutor for justice court, to prosecute criminal cases and misdemeanors, traffic cases and DUI cases. And she is prosecutor for youth court.
“All criminal cases, as well as felony cases, come through here where the judges set bond,” she said. “The county prosecutor is lead prosecuter for all criminal cases in the county by statute.”
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