This is part of an ongoing series where the Pioneer will be meeting with County department heads to learn what their departments do.
Megan Spielman, the Clerk of the La Paz County Superior Court, wears a lot of hats. She’s also the Jury Commissioner, the Probate Registrar, and the Court Administrator.
Spielman described her office as being the “Eye of the Storm.” They oversee the courts and ensure they operate smoothly. They also maintain a high level of customer service for people who come into their office because, as Spielman explained, most of them are not there for happy reasons.
The Clerk’s Office is where Superior Court cases are initiated. These include civil cases about $10,000 and felony criminal cases. Criminal cases are bound over from the Justice Courts, are started with information from the County Attorney’s Office, or are based on Grand Jury proceedings.
Once cases are initiated, the Clerk’s Office must maintain and manage the files on those cases. Spielman said they have been paperless since April 2019, and all court documents are scanned and stored in several online locations. There’s more than one copy stored of every document they scan. Spielman said this was to protect the integrity of the information they have.
Spielman estimated they scan and store between 300 and 500 documents a week. She said that doesn’t include over 100 records of minute entries from court hearings they file every week.
In the Clerk’s Office, they have two public work stations for accessing court documents. The first if for court forms, while the other is to access court records.
“We’re very progressive,” Spielman said. “We try to keep up with the technology.”
The Clerk of the Superior Court is also the Financial Officer for the Court. When payments are made, including fees, fines and restitution, the Clerk’s Office keeps records of those payments. From these payments, the Clerk’s Office must send the appropriate amount to other agencies.
Spielman said her office manages these funds according the accepted accounting standards. She said she has a large number of agencies and funds she has to send money to every month.
Spielman’s jobs are unusual in that she is also the Court Administrator. She said she may be the only Clerk in the state who is also a Court Administrator. She is in charge of such matters as court security, the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program for young people involved in the courts, grants management and managing the court’s budget.
“It’s a big job,” she said. “But I love it.”
Spielman said her office is always busy. It’s not uncommon for them to handle 100 cases a week. They have 15 jury trials, most of them civil trials, scheduled between September and June. They may have as many as 200 people a week visit their office.
One of the things that Spielman emphasizes is customer service. She said this is important for keeping the public confident in the court system.
“Most people don’t come here for good things,” she said. “They’re being sued, they’ve been accused of a felony, they’re going through a divorce or they have child custody issues.”
Spielman said the goal of her office was to be fair and impartial and treat everyone with respect and dignity.
“We want the public to trust this is a fair place to come to and solve their problems,” she said.
There are times when people come to their office for happy occasions, Spielman said. These include marriage licenses, adoptions and passports.
Spielman praised her staff, saying they are the people who make the system work. She said they share the same values she does, including their commitment to customer service. She added they couldn’t do all that they do if they weren’t so hard-working and dedicated.
The Clerk of the Superior Court’s Office is located at 1316 Kofa Avenue, Suite 607, in the County Courts Complex. The phone number is 928-669-6131.
By Arizona State Law (ARS 12-281E), the Clerk of the Superior Court’s Office may not give out legal advice. For resources on legal advice, go to AZCourtHelp.org.