Ms. Chesney Baxley, Winn Parish clerk of court, was the speaker for the April 14, 2021 meeting of the Rotary Club of Winnfield, as well as Rotarian of the week. Ms. Baxley has served as the clerk of court since her election in 2016, and spoke about the latest technological developments in the clerk’s office since she took office.
The clerk of court is responsible for maintaining and administering the public records of the parish related to real estate, including conveyances, mortgages, leases and other transactions, the records of civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions, the court docket, calendar and minutes, summoning registered voters to form grand and petit jury panels, together with certain duties related to elections for public office within the parish.
Ms. Baxley said she has been actively working to bring the clerk’s office into the online world for several years, and she is close to seeing some of her efforts bear fruit in the near future. She mentioned that the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association has been instrumental in the creation of the Louisiana Clerks Remote Access Authority [LCRAA], a state entity authorized by the legislature to design, construct, administer and maintain a portal through which individuals may access the indices of public records maintained by parish clerks of court throughout the state. The authority is funded by recording fees imposed by the legislature and collected by the clerks of court in the 64 parishes and transmitted to LCRAA. These fees are used to fund the administration and maintenance of the statewide portal, and to provide funding to those clerks of court, mostly in small rural parishes like Winn, whose operations do not provide adequate funding to pay for the necessary infrastructure, software, technology and training to place all court records online and make them accessible to the public on the internet.
Ms. Baxley has been awarded multiple grants by LCRAA which have enabled her to have computer and internet infrastructure put in place and have the court records converted to electronic images available for online research by the public. In the near future, the Winn Parish conveyance records will be online and accessible to the public for a fee. The mortgage records will be added in the future, and the other court records maintained by the clerk will eventually be uploaded to the system as well. Thus, the public will be able to view, download and/or print images of court documents and public records via the clerk’s website. Certain fees, the amounts of which have not been determined, will be charged for searching the records as well as for printing the records to pay for the cost of maintaining the records online. The office will also be able to accept online payment and credit card payment for its services as a result of these changes.
Online access will not only save the individual who wishes to review the court records and parish records a great deal of time, but it will also save the clerk and her employees untold hours now spent assisting patrons of the office with finding documents and records they need for their legal or business transactions. It will also generate additional revenues to cover the expenses related to the use and maintenance of the computer system itself.
Ms. Baxley assured the group that these developments and changes will be very much appreciated by all the patrons of the clerk’s office, individuals and legal and business offices alike.
The meeting was concluded with the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self!”
The Rotary Club of Winnfield meets every Wednesday at Noon for lunch at Lynda’s Country Kitchen. For more information about the Rotary Club of Winnfield, you may contact President, Jodi Taylor at (832) 573-5085. You can also find club information on Facebook at Rotary Club of Winnfield Facebook Page or online at Rotary.org.