REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Court clerk needs to fix the basics

Erie County Clerk of Courts Barbara Johnson has failed to perform a very basic, fundamental and primary function of the office to wh
Sandusky Register Staff
May 13, 2010

Erie County Clerk of Courts Barbara Johnson has failed to perform a very basic, fundamental and primary function of the office to which she was elected, and re-elected again last November, for a fourth term.

Johnson's stewardship of county court records is an abysmal failure. The box-it, pile-it-up method employed for the past two decades under Johnsons's leadership ignores the modernizations over the past two decades and renders court documents all but unretrievable. The failure to properly maintain the legal records of the county represents an absolute failure to achieve the mission of the court clerk's office.

Erie County residents might well be better served if court officials were chiseling records into stone. Johnson is so far behind the curve she hasn't even come to the bend -- the modern invention known as a computer. While most of Ohio's 88 counties and many of the dozens of municipal courts in the state have upgraded practices that were more up-to-date than the boxes and shelf space approach Johnson uses, it does not appear she has even a clue about what the problem is, or how to even begin solving it.

She needs to figure it out.

Johnson should immediately begin devising a remedy and implementing it. She owes that to the public. She owes it to every person who comes into contact with the county's court system, or ever has any need for a court record, from prosecutors and lawyers working criminal and civil cases to reporters and John Q. Public.

If Johnson cannot adequately map out how she intends to fix this problem -- complete with a timeline and hard-set goals -- then she should step down from the office.