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Order in the Courts: A History of the Federal Court Clerk's Office

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To capture the development of the clerk's office as an institution, the discussion is organized chronologically, though there are several themes that guide the narrative. Among these themes are: 1) the transformation of the clerks from relatively autonomous officeholders who earned their livings from the fees that their offices could generate and who answered only to the j To capture the development of the clerk's office as an institution, the discussion is organized chronologically, though there are several themes that guide the narrative. Among these themes are: 1) the transformation of the clerks from relatively autonomous officeholders who earned their livings from the fees that their offices could generate and who answered only to the judges who had appointed them, to salaried employees of a federal judicial bureaucracy whose work was and is subject to a significant amount of oversight by various agencies of the government; 2) the impact on the clerks' offices of changes in the jurisdiction and structure of the federal courts and of the development and application of new procedures and technologies for record keeping and case filing; 3) the clerks' successful recasting of themselves as agents, as opposed to objects, of court reform through both individual and collective activities; 4) their assumption of responsibility for personnel management and other functions not related to the screening or recording of documents filed with the federal courts. These themes reflect the dual purposes of this publication: to rescue from historical obscurity the efforts of a group of men and women who have worked to keep the federal judicial machinery running smoothly, and to reveal how their work has enhanced judicial independence while contributing to the development of a truly national court system.


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To capture the development of the clerk's office as an institution, the discussion is organized chronologically, though there are several themes that guide the narrative. Among these themes are: 1) the transformation of the clerks from relatively autonomous officeholders who earned their livings from the fees that their offices could generate and who answered only to the j To capture the development of the clerk's office as an institution, the discussion is organized chronologically, though there are several themes that guide the narrative. Among these themes are: 1) the transformation of the clerks from relatively autonomous officeholders who earned their livings from the fees that their offices could generate and who answered only to the judges who had appointed them, to salaried employees of a federal judicial bureaucracy whose work was and is subject to a significant amount of oversight by various agencies of the government; 2) the impact on the clerks' offices of changes in the jurisdiction and structure of the federal courts and of the development and application of new procedures and technologies for record keeping and case filing; 3) the clerks' successful recasting of themselves as agents, as opposed to objects, of court reform through both individual and collective activities; 4) their assumption of responsibility for personnel management and other functions not related to the screening or recording of documents filed with the federal courts. These themes reflect the dual purposes of this publication: to rescue from historical obscurity the efforts of a group of men and women who have worked to keep the federal judicial machinery running smoothly, and to reveal how their work has enhanced judicial independence while contributing to the development of a truly national court system.

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