CLERK OF COURT & COMPTROLLER

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA

Message from Cindy Stuart

I was honored in September to be elected your Clerk of Court & Comptroller, and I want to share some of my plans for the future. 

Because I was elected in a universal primary in September, I had the benefit of a few extra months to work with Pat Frank and her staff to ensure a smooth transition. I will always be grateful for the support Pat gave me during the election and in the months that followed. She spent 16 years as Clerk & Comptroller and my goal is to build on the strong foundation she created.

It’s an honor to serve in this capacity following such an iconic servant. I look forward to learning all the many intricacies of this very important office. I am an involved and hands-on leader, and I look forward to hearing from you about making the Clerk’s Office the premier model of exceptional government.

One thing that became crystal clear during the transition is how complex the Clerk’s Office is. You can get a sense of that complexity with a quick tour of this website. Pat was fond of saying the office helps people from cradle to grave, and that’s certainly true: from adoptions to marriages, deeds to divorces all the way to probate. The office also pays all of the bills for Hillsborough County government, audits the books and even delivers the mail.

But its core responsibility revolves around the courts, its biggest division by far. The Clerk’s Office has made tremendous strides toward the goal of creating a paperless environment. The digital revolution that has transformed the office has increased efficiency not only for the more than 600 employees who work there but for all of its customers. Of course, technology is constantly changing, and it’s important we stay on top of it.

You may know me best for the eight years I spent on the Hillsborough County School Board. But what you may not know is that I earned a degree in Management Information Systems and Programming from Florida International University. So I am very comfortable in the world of Information Technology. I speak the language and I’m eager to roll up my virtual sleeves.

I’m sure we are all relieved to put 2020 behind us, but the challenges created by the COVID19 pandemic linger with no end in sight. I will put a high priority on finding more ways for the public to do more work remotely. It’s not only safer; it’s much more convenient and cost-effective. Among the court-related technology projects we will focus on are:

  • Expanding electronic certification of court records, already available for electronically filed records and expanded to request paper documents to be converted to electronic images and then eCertified
  • Creating text message alerts for new activity in court cases and for court hearing reminders
  • Expand online court payments to provide the ability to pay online for most case-related assessments through the Clerk’s excellent HOVER court case system
  • Expanding the electronic service of court-related documents to include service of final judgment and sentences in criminal cases
  • Enhancing the jury experience by allowing potential jurors to submit required questionnaires electronically before they arrive, much like you do when you check in with an airline or a doctor’s office. We also want to allow for text notifications for jurors whose service is not required.

Jury duty already has changed because of the pandemic. We no longer call hundreds of potential jurors once a week and make them wait all day, only to be sent home without ever actually serving on a jury. Now, we are calling jurors five days a week, usually in two or three different pools staggered through the day to ensure social distancing. This has been a management challenge for us as well as our partners in the 13th Judicial Circuit Court but together we are making it work. One of the unintended benefits of this new system is that if you are not picked to serve on a jury, you will likely be in and out of the courthouse in a few hours. That is something that should please everyone.

We will be introducing other new enhancements in the coming months, including the ability to obtain certified official records such as marriage license and deeds with the click of a mouse on this website. Watch for more details on that and other positive changes in the month ahead. I look forward to serving as your Clerk of Court & Comptroller.