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Countywide : Opinion Impedes Court’s Plans for Clerical Force

An Orange county counsel’s legal opinion has created a roadblock in an attempt by the Orange County Superior Court to put more than 100 clerk-recorder employees under the court’s direct supervision.

The opinion, sought by the county administrative office (CAO) and released to the public on Thursday, stated that the court had the power to transfer to itself only certain functions of the courtroom clerks and court computer and scheduling operations.

The opinion, signed by William J. McCourt, chief assistant county counsel, said that a recent state Court of Appeal’s opinion in a Santa Clara County case did not broaden the Superior Court’s power to transfer clerks.

The county counsel’s opinion, sent to the CAO on May 29, is advisory only and does not carry force of law.

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The issue arose in an April 17 letter the court sent to the CAO indicating that it had the power to transfer the clerks to its administrative arm but asking, instead, that the CAO form a task force to study such a transfer. Court Executive Alan Slater said the judges will meet June 28 to decide what further action to take.

After reading the opinion, Clerk-Recorder Lee A. Branch sent a letter to the county administrative office asking for time to work out problems with the court before a task force is formed. Branch and CAO Director Larry Parrish are scheduled to discuss Branch’s request early next week.


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