The Role of the Appellate Court’s Legal Staff
Clerks of Court and Deputy Clerks
The clerk of court is the administrative officer of the appellate court. The clerk’s duties are set by statute. A legal background is generally not required to perform the job of clerk of court. Official court documents are filed with clerk of court, and the clerk is responsible for case management. The clerk dockets cases, schedules hearings and trials on the calendar, and oversees all court records and documents.
Short-term Law Clerks
Short-term law clerks are attorneys who are hired for terms of one or two years after graduating from law school. Short-term law clerks usually are assigned to an individual judge. They perform research and help draft memoranda and other materials that may be used in the judge’s opinions. Short-term law clerks also prepare bench memoranda or summaries on cases assigned to their judge.
Career Law Clerks
Career law clerks are attorneys who are employed for an indefinite period of time. Like short-term law clerks, the career law clerks normally are assigned to an individual judge. They assist in preparing court opinions and perform research and other duties as requested by the judge.
Staff attorneys work for the court as a whole rather than a particular judge. They are permanent employees. Staff attorneys provide prehearing assistance and research motions and writ applications. They manage and sometimes conduct settlement conferences. Staff attorneys also have the task of writing memoranda on discretionary review petitions. Some courts do not employ staff attorneys.
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