Who: Barbara Penson
Office Sought: Floyd County Clerk of Superior Court
Occupation: Floyd County Clerk of Superior Court
What makes you the best person for this role?
I am the best person to serve as your Clerk of Superior Court in Floyd County. I have 6 years of college education with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I have managed work groups for over 30 years. I am a University of Georgia Certified Clerk of Superior Court which required 100 hours of in class instruction as well as a final thesis on a subject that related to the Clerks’ Offices and its day-to-day operations.
I have been elected as District Clerk of the Year 3 times. This year I was elected to serve as the 7th District Chair. The 7th District consists of the 14 Northwest Georgia counties.
I am a results-based person and I work extremely hard to keep the Clerks’ Offices current and updated. Our offices are already providing eFiling for all real estate documents, Civil cases and documents, and Criminal case subsequent documents.
With at least two major cyberattacks affecting the Floyd County courts in the past two years — what will you do to ensure court records remain safe?
Great question! It should be known the first attack was not only on my office or just Floyd County, but rather was a statewide attack. I certainly have experienced unprecedented challenges that require much experience and ability to work through and to keep the Clerks’ Offices operating during those periods of uncertainty.
The cyberattacks crippled us along with everyone else affected by the loss of valuable digital records. I immediately realized that we were crippled and we resorted to our backups and began recouping and re-entering documents. We accomplished the re-entry of cases and documents in record time.
I am currently obtaining proposals to move all our real estate records onto cloud storage for a greener and more secure environment.
The Civil and Criminal records are being migrated over to our vendor ICON’s hosted storage. ICON is currently the case management vendor and hosts storage for 94 other counties in Georgia.
There have been talks about how to resume court operations safely in the pandemic, but there is a potential that public access could be restricted as part of those considerations. What will you do to ensure the public has access to the courts and records going forward?
Public access is a major component to the operations of the Clerks’ Offices as we are the records keepers for all our Superior Courts. Those records should be readily available to everyone. In order to fulfill this task my offices have been utilizing emails, faxes, mail, phone requests and in-person requests on a limited basis. We do not turn anyone in person away that needs our services. There could possibly be a short wait in our hallway for in-person requests. This is only for the safety and protection of everyone.
We are under a court order from the State’s Chief Justice Melton and we are also under a local court order issued by our Chief Judge Durham. We are adhering to these orders and still achieving all records requests daily.
Anyone needing records kept by our offices are invited to reach out to us and we are willing to help.
The clerk’s office has a lot of moving parts and responsibilities — what are your plans to make sure the office works efficiently while boosting employee retention and morale?
We have a great responsibility for preserving and maintaining records. Our real estate records date back to 1833. We currently have over 48,000 parcels of real property in Floyd County. We average approximately 2,500 to 3,000 plus new criminal cases and approximately that same number of civil cases filed annually.
It is no secret that I have high standards and goals as the Clerk of Superior Court. I must continuously upgrade and modernize our processing as well as conform with over 1,600 statute codes of Georgia that regulate everything we do in our offices. With that being said, yes, I have lost staff over the years. Some were lateral or advancements into other County jobs within the courthouse and some were to other places. With the stressful job we have, I know that if I can offer a more competitive salary, the employee retention rate will increase.