A lot of the operating procedures have changed for the Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court’s Office to deal with the coronavirus and the state’s reopening guidelines under Phase 1. What what does it all mean and what does it actually look like for Clerk of Court David Stamey and his staff members?
The Natchitoches Parish Journal wanted to provide readers with a window into the world of the Clerk’s Office and how operations have adapted. The Courthouse as a whole is requiring citizens to wear masks upon entering the building. Temperatures are also being checked at the main entrance and upstairs before anyone enters the courtroom.
There’s now a waiting room set up in the hallway outside of the Clerk’s office, which has been doing death certificates, passports, birth certificates and marriage licenses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. They’ll continue to limit the number of people in the office until the state enters Phase 2 or Phase 3.
But work continues and, sitting in his office with paperwork spread across his desk, Stamey said they’d already issued four marriage licenses and six birth certificates by 11:15 am, which is a lot for one day.
With many offices shut down during the stay-at-home order, one man drove to Natchitoches from Port Allen to get a copy of his birth certificate so he could accept a job and get his family on the work insurance. People have driven in from Rapides, Winn, Bienville and other parishes for marriage licenses. Stamey said he issued four in one day for people from Rapides Parish.
They’ve even issued around 5 passports for people planning to travel in July.
Another change the Clerk’s office has experienced is an increase in the amount of civil suits being filed because there weren’t as many while things were slowed down. But it’s been frantic at times. Stamey is currently back scanning to put more conveyances online so attorneys and oil and gas abstractors can do their work without coming to the courthouse.
Now throw in the fact that the election is coming up on July 11 with runoffs set for August 15. It’ll be a big election including the presidential preference, Natchitoches mayor, city councils members and city councilman at large. Stamey also has minute clerks that go to the 10th Judicial District Court with the judges and there’s four criminal deputies working at the same time.
Criminal, civil and conveyance filings fo through the Clerk’s office, which usually provides certified copies. Now these filings must be dropped off and the Clerk’s office is mailing out the certified copies, which has extended the process.
Stamey said banks, mortgage institutions and title companies have been flexible through all of it and it’s been much appreciated. Attorneys have also done a lot of fax filings, so it’s business as usual at the Clerk’s office. Only methods of operation have changed.
“It’s kind of crazy how all of this is happening at one time,” said Stamey. “People are still scared and as long as the number of cases continues to rise we’ll try to keep our distance and give them space when they come in. We’re all just trying really hard to work together.”