What Does The Clerk of Court Do?

What is a Clerk of Court?

A Little Bit of History:

The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court is a public institution rich in tradition and history of the State of Maryland. Established by the Maryland Constitution (Article 4, Part III, §25), the Clerk of Court is one of the oldest public offices in our state and dates back as far as 1658 to the first Maryland settlement in St. Mary’s County.

The Clerk’s Office was established as an independent keeper of the records to maintain their integrity in a safe and impartial manner. Ensuring the integrity of the court record ultimately ensures that the people are being served in a fair and just manner.

Key Departments

To execute the tasks associated with activities of the Circuit Court, the Clerk of Court is assisted by state-employed staff working in eight key functional areas of the Court:

  • Civil Department
  • Criminal Department
  • Family Department
  • Finance Department
  • Juvenile Department
  • Land Records Department
  • License Department
  • Courtroom Clerks


Duties and Responsibilities

The Clerk of Court is an officer of the court whose mandate it is to perform essential administrative duties in civil and criminal justice systems. Their task is to help other court officers, including attorneys and judges in ensuring that all court processes run smoothly. They are the link that brings together the various components of the court operations to create the efficiency needed to enable the courts to expend their duties appropriately and provide service to the citizens they serve.

The duties and responsibilities of the Clerk of Court include but are not limited to:

  • Enters all orders of the court and issues writs, summons, warrants, commitments and other court processes as described by law.
  • Maintains the court and notice records.
  • Creates and keeps records of licensing requests of county, municipal or other agencies.
  • Maintains the official record of cases filed in the court.
  • Conducts marriage civil ceremonies.
  • Issues Marriage licenses and business licenses.
  • Records deeds, mortgages and land record documents affecting property.
  • Collects and distributes fees to appropriate agencies and municipalities.
  • Administers the Oath of Office to elected officials, judges, county police officers, sheriff officers, special police officers, assistant and deputy state’s attorneys, fire department members, notaries and gubernatorial appointees.


The Clerk of Court can also analyze the court’s financial data, manages clerk budgets, and makes future projections based on the available data. With all these demands and the versatility of their duties, the Clerk of Court should be compliant with human resource requirements, be top of their game in project management, and have exceptional negotiation skills. They should possess adequate knowledge in diplomacy, court procedures, information systems and business management.

Michelle Karczeski not only meets but exceeds all of the needed requirements to be your next Clerk of Court for Harford County.

Serving Our Citizens

In addition to supporting judicial functions, the Clerk of Court is responsible for recording the state’s land record transactions, issuing business and marriage licenses and performing civil ceremonies. In this process, the Clerk’s Office collects and distributes funds on behalf of the State, Harford County and its municipalities.

The Clerk of Court performs court duties, such as filing, docketing, and maintaining legal records; recording documents that involve title to real estate; and collecting the fees, commissions, and taxes related to these functions.

Operating expenses for the Clerk’s Office primarily come from State General Funds, and certain support services, such as payroll and invoice processing and maintenance of budgetary accounting records, are provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Today, the Clerk of the Circuit Court is elected by the voters to a four-year term (Chapter 99, Acts of 1956, ratified Nov. 6, 1956; Const., Art. IV, secs. 25-26; Code Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 2-201 through 2-213).