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February Chapter Meeting Recap
The Orange County Courthouse plaza was bathed in pre-dawn light as I approached the main entrance of this magnificent postmodern edifice. I felt a little like a theme park guest (J) as I deftly wound my way (Express Pass-style) through the queue to the lobby security checkpoint. Divested of my cell phones, keys and jewelry, I passed without incident through the metal detector and was drawn into the rotunda, as if beckoned by the bronze trumpeting spirit occupying its center. As I glided up the escalator to the 2nd floor meeting location, I noticed the portrait gallery of venerable personages and the Florida landscapes which adorned the walls. In contrast to the formal architecture and décor, I found the representatives of the office of the Orange County Clerk of Courts (OCCC) to be friendly, informative and enthusiastic hosts.
NCSA Member Tom Dickey (Court Division Manager – Call Center) welcomed those gathered, provided a quick sketch of the program, assisted Wes Tindal (Chapter President) with a gift drawing (Three lucky winners got to take home SLICE, the aptly-named orange plush mascot of the OCCC!), and then began by introducing Jodi Hurtado (Court Operations Manager – Traffic) and Lisa Roundtree (Asst Manager – Traffic). Jodi took the floor and offered an introduction to the Traffic division, surprising us with a fun fact about how tax season is when money pours in from those with the delinquent citations. Interesting, isn’t it? Anthony Rosini (Operations Supervisor – Call Center) was up next, to explain how the call center serviced the 5 other divisions of the OCCC with a talented team of 18 agents, who typically field between 25,000-30,000 calls per month. Impressive! Then Roberta Walker (Court Operations Manager – Self Help Center) presented the latest endeavor of the OCCC, the Self Help Center, which opened its doors on August 14th. It provides support – including legal services at $1/min for a minimum of 15 mins - to individuals who chose to represent themselves in court, but do not have or cannot afford a lawyer. Roberta confessed that she prefers to call it the “empowerment center.” #TRUTH
Then we were honored by the presence of Clerk Tiffany Moore Russell. Were you aware that the clerk of courts is the oldest elected position in the state of Florida, even older than governor? Well, now you do! Clerk Russell described the Clerk’s Office as the “keeper of the records of justice,” explaining further how the OCCC serves the judiciary branch, law enforcement and the public. The OCCC’s divisions include: civil, criminal, juvenile, family, traffic and call center. What does the OCCC do? It maintains millions of court documents and a vault of evidence and it collects and disburses millions of dollars each year in fines and fees. Marriage licenses and ceremonies, passports, traffic ticket payments, adoptions, online foreclosure sales, probate and wills, juvenile cases, small claims – you name it, the OCCC does it. Well, almost…Clerk Russell, a former attorney with legal services, spoke passionately about the Self Help Center, a long-held dream of hers come true. She also encouraged us to be active participants when called to jury duty, reminding us that “a jury is fair and neutral, only if it is diverse.” She expressed particular pride in the “greening” of the OCCC, which has significantly reduced the number of people having to physically visit the courthouse – yet another win in terms of serving the community.
Then guided tours of Traffic, the Call Center and the Self Help Center were offered.
Thank you Orange County Clerk of Courts for giving the NCSA Central Florida Chapter a peek into your world!