Circuit clerk clearing out holding funds

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2000

More than $88,000 in Adams County court payroll garnishments should soon be returned to the people who won judgments in either Adams County Court or Adams County Circuit Court.

&uot;We’re sending out letters to each of the accounts asking (the clients) to contact their attorneys,&uot;&160;said Adams County Circuit Clerk, M.L. &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines.

The money dates to at least 1997 and accumulated because individual attorneys did not file pay orders to have the money released to their clients, Vines said.

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And, the garnishment account is one of two recently discovered holding accounts which could yield overdue funds for residents and the county’s general budget.

Workers in the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office discovered the funds in the garnishment account, estimated at $88,746.27, this year while examining office records.

&uot;We’re trying to find out exactly where every penny goes and at what point it goes,&uot; into that account, said Marge Alexander, office employee.

Vines said the garnishments were ordered by Judges Forrest &uot;Al&uot; Johnson, Lillie Blackmon Sanders and John Hudson as decisions in cases. In these garnishment cases, the money is first paid to the circuit clerk’s office. Attorneys are then responsible for requesting the funds be paid to recipients.

Vines said he plans to make sure garnishments no longer sit in a county account. &uot;It is my responsibility … to make sure that the system works,&uot; Vines said. &uot;And we need to be on top of this.&uot;

The office will report monthly which funds are still not requested and contact attorneys in the cases.

Vines is also waiting on an opinion from the state attorney general’s office on what to do with at least $60,000 discovered in an account that accumulates cost or appeal bonds paid by clients appealing cases from a lower court, Vines said.

These appeals cost $200 each, with $95 paid into a county account to pay a variety of expenses such as jury taxes, court administrator fees or court reporter taxes.

&uot;What was happening was the $95 was not being (converted over) to those assessments,&uot; said Vines, who added he thought the account existed because of a bookkeeping error.

The county’s general fund may be eligible for a share of this money and in the future its share will be transferred weekly, Vines said.

The rest of the money from appeals bonds is sometimes refunded to individuals once court expenses generated in the lower courts are met.