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Be Nice to the Clerk During the Criminal Court Process

When I was in law school, I clerked for a judge in Nashville, Tennessee. During the criminal court process in Tennessee, you will encounter many people. The clerk of the criminal, circuit, or general sessions court is one of those people. It pays to be polite to the clerk whether you are a lawyer or client. The clerks handle the collection of court costs, expungements, and processing restricted license applications just to name a few of their duties. That lesson was reinforced recently.

An old client tried to reinstate their driver's license. It went downhill quickly. I was able to intervene quickly. A couple of phone calls took the situation where nothing was getting done to the problem solved. Here are a few tips in dealing with the clerk;

1. Smile

2. Be polite

3. Be respectful

4. Realize they have a tough job

5. Listen

6. If you don't understand, ask them can you please repeat what you said.

7. Take a piece of paper and write down their instructions.

8. Say Thank You.

Navigating Tennessee's criminal justice system is difficult. Your criminal defense lawyer can't be there every step of the process. You will have to interact with the clerks. Here is a link to the staff directory of the Davidson County criminal court Clerk's office. These rules also apply to young lawyers as well. Just because you have your law license does not mean you know everything. If you don't know your law know your clerk.