About 2/3rds of clerks of general jurisdiction courts in the U.S. are elected officials (in states such as California Superior they are employees of the court). In 2016 Arkansas voters will get to decide whether they want to give their court clerks, along with other county officials, 4 year terms.
HJR 1027 as approved by the legislature last week (87-2 in the House; 33-0 in the Senate) contains three provisions:
- County officials, including Clerks of the Circuit Court, will have their term of office extended from 2 years to 4 years. They will also be explicitly prohibited from holding any other civil office.
- Where there is a single candidate for an office, no election is required and the person’s name does not have to appear on the ballot
- “Infamous crimes” for which a convicted person may never hold public office again are specifically defined.
Clerks of the District Courts would remain appointed by the local District Court judge (A.C.A. § 16-17-211(a) “The judge of any district court may appoint a clerk for the court, who shall be designated and known as the district court clerk.”)
Assuming its adoption in November 2016, the extended terms would only apply to Circuit Clerks and others elected in 2018.