The Honorable Janice Morris began her role as Rockdale County’s elected Clerk of Superior and State Courts on January 1, 2021. Not only was she a newly-elected clerk, but she was also facing a global pandemic triggered by COVID 19. The pandemic put her in a position whereby she had to immediately adjust normal processes and procedures to keep the courthouse open and comply with judicial laws and regulations.
The first step upon entering the courthouse was for her to embrace the judges, district attorneys, public defenders, and the Rockdale County bar association members. She held a meeting with all parties and expressed that everyone would have to work together as a unified team to embrace the necessary technological changes to ensure that the courthouse processes would have no delay. Rockdale County’s courthouse was still open during the entire time of the pandemic.
Multiple divisions fall under the Clerk of Superior and State Court, they are real estate, criminal, civil, state, Board of Equalization, jury duty, and passport. To meet the need of the citizens, Madam Clerk made sure most of the documents were accessible online to the public. Examples of documents and procedures made readily available were real estate deeds, plats, and criminal records; people could file civil complaints online, divorce, and file temporary protection orders. Madam Clerk began to forge a pathway forward through a troubling time by leading Rockdale County into a digital age.
Digitizing deeds and liens in the real estate department was her first initiative. When the clerk started this project, there were only ten historical books of deeds and liens available online and some current deeds and liens. As of today, all documents in the real estate department are entirely digitized with public access.
One major accomplishment that she made in the State Department was implementing Project Brazos. Madam Clerk working in conjunction with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s office, could eliminate handwritten citations and provide printed citations, automatically putting the defendant’s information into Brazos software. This milestone achievement gave the clerks immediate access to the defendant’s information and made it more convenient for the clerks, law enforcement officers, and citizens.
Another improvement coming to this department very soon is the ability for defendants to pay their tickets online through a new program called Defendant’s Access. This program allows citizens to enter their ticket numbers and pay their citations online. A system in place now called In Court has a lengthy process that takes 48 hours for a payment to clear.
By using Defendant’s Access, the payment is receipted immediately once the transaction is complete. Furthering the technological advancement of the courthouse was the upgrade to the Odyssey software used for the justice system, from a dated .11 version to the latest .18 version.
Other technology improvements are upgraded PCS to laptops, E Cert Training which allows citizens to request and receive certified copies of documents online and replace public kiosks and PC stations to more up-to-date equipment.
While technology has been an essential part of Madam Clerk’s mission, it was also fundamental that the courthouse was running efficiently. Under the leadership of Honorable Janice Morris
Rockdale County’s GCIC score increased to a score of 89%, making it tied for 2nd in the state out of 159 counties, and it was recognized in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In addition, her criminal division updated all evidence logs, submitted pick-up letters to all agencies they belong to, and resolved Time Expired Cases. She also ensured that her staff attended all training to keep them within the state regulations and guidelines.
Amongst all these outstanding accomplishments, Madam Clerk welcomed a new state judge. Madam Clerk sprang into action once again to make the necessary arrangements to find the judge a place to hold court because there was no court room to house the new judge. She did what needed to be done to make sure that Rockdale citizens received due process.
The Clerk has shown her support of the community by organizing and participating in community outreach events. A few events that she has organized are “Sweet Treats” cookie and snack delivery to the principals and staff at the beginning of the school year, as requested by citizens, quarterly notary training, and the Law Library Speaker Series.
In October 2022, Madam Clerk collaborated with the City of Conyers to host Pink Out Rockdale Breast Cancer Awareness event. Through this partnership, Madam Clerk and City of Conyers Mayor Vince Evans raised funds to provide over 75 free mammograms. Pink Out Rockdale and the clerk were acknowledged by the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners. Her dedication to the Rockdalecommunity continued when she participated in feeding the Piedmont Rockdale Hospital staff dinner in 2022 alongside the Conyers Rotary Club.
Madam Clerk has made it clear that she is devoted to her role and job duties and continues to operate as a working leader. Her innovative technological advancements and dedication to the community were recognized on November 13, 2021. She was awarded “Clerk of the Year” by GABCO (Georgia Association of Black County Officials). To show her support for the youths in Rockdale County,Madam Clerk created the U.N.D.E.R D.O.G. Scholarship, which provided scholarships to four students in 2022-2023.
Boards and organizations that the clerk is a member of are:
NACM- National Association of Court Management
GABCO- Georgia Association of Black County Officials
Conyers-Rockdale Rotary Club
Georgia Metro Clerk Association
Student Advisory Board, Rockdale County School System Certificate of
Training from Georgia Institute of Continuing Judicial Education
Since she has taken office, the clerk has hit the ground running, working, adapting, and attacking every obstacle with a solution, gracefully and with a cheerful heart. Madam Clerk’s plans for Rockdale have just begun. Her future goals are to have the entire courthouse digitally operational so that the courthouse can continue to function in another crisis. She will continue to provide stellar customer service with the values and principles: Accessible Approachable, Accountable.