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Franklin County Clerk of Courts 2020 Annual Report

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Mission Statement

To maintain the integrity and accessibility of court documents and motor vehicle titles.

Vision

To be the premier county Clerk's Office in the State of Ohio by providing TIMELY, ACCURATE and COURTEOUS service.
This will be achieved by continuing to:

  • Enhance customer service
  • Invest in our employees' growth and well-being
  • Use the latest technological advances

Message from the Clerk

Maryellen O'Shaughnessy I am Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, your elected Franklin County Clerk of the Common Pleas and 10th District Appeals courts. We present to you our 2020 Annual Report. I hope that you will find this report to be a valuable and informative tool.

As we learn and grow with new technologies to better serve you, we never shy away from our goal of providing timely, accurate, and courteous service in the management of court documents and the issuance of auto titles.
Thank you for taking the time to read this recap of our work in 2019. We always aim to provide exceptional service.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 614-525-3600 or email FranklinCountyClerk@FranklinCountyOhio.gov

Maryellen O'Shaughnessy
Maryellen O’Shaughnessy
Franklin County Clerk of Courts

About the Clerk

Clerk O’Shaughnessy and her son, ColinMaryellen O'Shaughnessy began her term as Franklin County Clerk of Courts in January 2009. Prior to serving as Clerk, O'Shaughnessy was elected three times as a Columbus City Council Member, representing the 15th largest city in the nation. She was committed to providing excellent services, listening to neighborhood concerns, and providing the resources necessary to keep her community thriving. She served as chair of the Public Service and Transportation, Utilities, and Development committees, working for sustainable development and growth practices, complete streets policies and balanced transportation systems, and the redevelopment of Downtown Columbus and its core neighborhoods.

Clerk O’Shaughnessy and her husband, Tim Feran

Clerk O'Shaughnessy is a fifth-generation Central Ohioan and comes from a family dedicated to public service. She is also a fourth-generation funeral director and owner of O’Shaughnessy Company Funeral Directors, established in 1889. A graduate of Bishop Watterson High School and The Ohio State University, O’Shaughnessy is an active volunteer in her church and parish and is past recipient of the Diocesan Service Award.

Clerk O’Shaughnessy is also involved in the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association and the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, sitting on their legislative committees. She was on the boards of the Columbus Historical Society, the Greenways Working Group of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, and serves as Vice President of Columbus Outdoor Pursuits.

About the Office

Since Ohio became a state in 1803, judicial systems required each county to have a clerk of courts who was tasked to preserve records for future generations. In the interest of justice, it is important for clerk offices to remain independent from the judges they serve. This separation prevents even the appearance of judicial bias.

Clerk O’Shaughnessy speaking to the Franklinton Area Commission

In the Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ Office, approximately 200 full-time Deputy Clerks serve in five divisions: Auto Title, Legal, Fiscal Services, Information Technology, and Administration. Four of those divisions are in seven different offices in the Franklin County Courthouse complex. The fifth, Auto Title, is in four conveniently located branch offices throughout Franklin County. Each division is important to the Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ two major functions: management of court documents and issuance of auto titles.

Our Legal Division Deputy Clerks are responsible for receiving, receipting, managing, and retaining all legal documents filed through the Court of Common Pleas and the 10th District Court of Appeals. Our Deputy Clerks execute their responsibilities in strict accordance with the record retention requirements established by Ohio law.

In 2019, the Legal Division filed 102,642 new cases in the Court of Common Pleas and 10th District Court of Appeals, down from 103,842 in 2018. Since the full implementation of e-Filing in 2012, our processing times have fallen from an average of three days to one day, with most filings processed in less than four business hours.

Our Auto Title Division Deputy Clerks manage titling and proof of vehicle ownership, with strict adherence to Ohio laws and rules. In 2019, our Auto Title Division processed 565,027 auto titles, up from 556,921 in 2018, with an average wait time of only 11 minutes.

Since 2009, our busy Auto Title offices generated more than $10 million in funds that have been given to the County General Fund to help the Franklin County Commissioners continue to provide essential services to our residents.

Franklin County Clerk of Courts Organizational Chart

Auto Title Division

The Clerk’s Auto Title Division is comprised of four branch locations. The Auto Title Division processes titles for motor vehicles, watercraft, motorcycles, manufactured homes, and campers. Whether you are buying or selling a motor vehicle, our Auto Title Division is there to grant the proof of ownership required by state law.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles Honors Auto Title Branches

Bureau of Motor Vehicles Honors Auto Title Branches

Franklin County was one of 10 counties involved in the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ User Acceptance Testing pilot program of the new Ohio Certificate of Title. The new title design included new fields, security features, Ohio Revised Code requirements, and provides more clarity for the user. The pilot’s success was followed by full statewide implementation. In December 2019, Franklin County Auto Title was recognized by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles for its involvement in the new Ohio Certificate of Title redesign.

 

Certificate of Title Redesign

While the old version of the Ohio Certificate of Title is still valid, the new version has a few updates:

  • Increased size to standard letter size (8.5in by 11in)
  • More space for vehicle and personal information
  • Color coded instructions to separate buyer, seller, and notary public’s sections
  • Larger notarizing areas with reminders to sign
  • Language updated to be consistent with the Ohio Revised Code


Certificate of Title Redesign
 

$3 Million Surplus to General Fund

Clerk O’Shaughnessy speaking to CommissionersThe Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ Office will deposit $3 million in excess funds from the Certificate of Title Administration Fund to the Franklin County General Fund. The funds will be available to support essential county services. The latest deposit is another example of Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy’s continued commitment to the services provided by Franklin County. Since assuming office in 2009, Clerk O’Shaughnessy’s Office has contributed $10 million to the general fund. On average, in Clerk O’Shaughnessy’s tenure, $1.65 of every Franklin County auto title transaction has gone back into the general fund.

 

Local Government Fleet Titling Initiative/Effects of Cross-County Titling

Local Government Fleet Titling Initiative/Effects of Cross-County Titling

In 2019, Clerk O’Shaughnessy and Auto Title Operations visited 13 local municipalities regarding their fleet vehicles that are titled outside of Franklin County. Most jurisdictions were unaware that the title fees generated from the purchase of a fleet vehicle go to the county where the vehicle was titled. Less than 20 percent of government fleet vehicles were titled in Franklin County for jurisdictions that are in Franklin County.

With a mission to educate local governments within Franklin County, Clerk O’Shaughnessy’s Auto Title Division set out to tell our story and explain why it is important to keep our title fees in Franklin County. The next phase includes reaching out to the local school districts to raise awareness of the importance in doing business in Franklin County.

“Titling your vehicle in Franklin County keeps Franklin County strong.”
- Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy

Employee Continuing Education

The Auto Title Division rolled out continuing education in early 2019 with the focus on reinforcing titling best practices for the division. The division’s commitment to excellence was demonstrated by introducing monthly training sessions on various topics with tracking measures for optimal impact. This ongoing initiative is to ensure the Deputy Clerks are kept up-to-date and knowledgeable on titling practices as we strive to increase the accuracy, timeliness, and courteous service to our customers.

Vehicle Titling

The Franklin County Clerk of Courts Title Division issues four main types of titles.
Original: Issued to a new owner for the first time.
Replacement: Issued when the current original title contains an error, is defaced in such a way that the title becomes invalid, or when the title requires an update without a transfer of ownership.
Duplicate: Issued when the current title has been lost, stolen, or destroyed. No transfer of ownership occurs.
Salvage: Issued when the vehicle has been wrecked beyond repair (“totaled”) or when law enforcement takes ownership of an abandoned vehicle.

Title Type Transactions By Year

Auto Title Branches

Check out our web page for a list of our Auto Title locations and office hours.

Dedicated Auto Title Help Line

Our Dedicated Auto Title Help Line at 614.525.3090 is answered in real time by an expert Deputy Clerk during normal weekday hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon. More title information including transaction processes, forms, and fees, is available online at FranklinCountyAutoTitle.com.

Legal Divisions

Our Legal Divisions consists of three offices: Appeals, General (Civil/Criminal), and Domestic Relations and Juvenile. The Legal Divisions consists of approximately 100 Deputy Clerks that manage the documents for each of these courts in Franklin County.

Appeals DivisionAppeals

The 10th District Court of Appeals, located on the 24th floor of the County Administration Building, handles cases appealed from the Court of Common Pleas, Municipal Court, or Court of Claims. We manage their documents in our office on the 23rd floor.

 

General (Civil/Criminal)

General (Civil/Criminal) DivisionThe General Division of the Common Pleas Court, located in the new Courthouse at 345 South High Street, hears felony criminal cases and civil cases in which damages claimed or the amount in contention exceeds $15,000. We manage civil and criminal documents in our offices on the 1st floor.

In addition, the Clerk’s General Division is an authorized U.S. Department of State Passport Acceptance Agent. A Deputy Clerk reviews the completed application, takes the passport photo, and forwards all documents and payments to the U.S. Department of State. In 2019, our One-Stop-Passport-Shop processed 1,139 applications and collected $44,134.40 in revenue from fees and photo services. That is down from 2018 where we processed 1,445 applications and collected $52,817.

Domestic Relations and Juvenile

The Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division of the Common Pleas Court is in the County Administration Building, 373 South High Street. The court handles family law cases including divorce, dissolution, legal separation, child custody, and child support, as well as juvenile traffic cases, delinquency, truancy, and abuse or neglect of dependency of a minor. The Clerk’s Office is located on the 4th floor, with Juvenile Traffic located at 399 South Front Street.

Domestic Relations Division Juvenile Division Juvenile Traffic Division
Cases By Division
Protection Orders By Division
One Stop Passport Shop Revenue

Office of Fiscal Services

The Office of Fiscal Services collects and disburses court-related and public funds in strict accordance with Ohio law. The Office of Fiscal Services maintains our financial infrastructure and provides an independent, objective oversight of all monetary transactions. Primary duties include budget management, cash management, centralized accounting, auditing, and financial policy oversight.

The Office of Fiscal Services audits the financial activity of each division and validates the timeliness, accuracy, and integrity of receipts. The Office of Fiscal Services provides the Clerk’s Office and the general public comprehensive financial documentation and reports.

The Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ 2020 approved budget is $21,466,051 up from $17,530,482 in 2019, $17,070,804 in 2018, and $16,923,052 in 2017. (Source: Office of Budget Management)

Clerk of Court's Total Budget

Information Technology

Information Technology provides support and innovative solutions to meet the technical needs of the Clerk’s Office and the people it serves. Every visit to our website, Auto Title transaction, and phone call is tracked and analyzed to increase efficiency. Information Technology aims to ensure the Clerk’s systems are functioning for staff and public use while continuing to evolve as new potential cyber security vulnerabilities are identified.

Franklin County Court Case Management System Project (2019 – 2023)

Franklin County Court Case Management System PartnersThe Clerk’s Information Technology team along with other county agencies are working to modernize our Case Management System. The four year, multi-million-dollar project will consolidate 18 county systems and provide upgraded public access to court documents for the Clerk of Courts’ Office, Court of Common Pleas General Division, Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division, Probate Court, and the 10th District Court of Appeals. Real-time data exchange between systems will be possible via collaborative efforts between the new Court Case Management System Partners and additional justice, social services, and community partners, including the Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Municipal Court, Municipal Court Clerk, Child Support Enforcement Agency, and Children Services.

The purpose of the new system is to create an integrated, secure case management system that provides reliable, efficient, and accurate results to the public. This will bring 21st century technologies to the Clerk’s Office and increase the people’s access to justice.

Expected benefits are:

  • Enhanced reporting capabilities, including faster turnaround for custom reports
  • Real-time data exchange with other county systems
  • Preserves technical functionality, while increasing efficiencies
  • Provides a more robust security model to combat cyber threats
  • Introduces cloud hosting to help shorten disaster recovery
  • Seamless data integration with other County justice partners
  • Integration with eFiling without impacting user-functionality

The Case Management System project has been made possible by the collaborative efforts of Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy and her partners on the E-Governance Board.

Case Management System Project Timeline

High Level Project Phases

Administration

Administration consists of communications, human resources and training, legal compliance, and the Clerk’s Chief of Staff. This Division provides guidance and support to all other divisions.

Communications

Represents the Office to the press, public, and other agencies. They develop communication strategies to connect constituencies with the services we provide.

Human Resources and Training

Administers hiring, training, benefits, payroll, labor relations, performance evaluations, and strategic planning. This past year they completed office-wide training on essential topics. The new Clerk Star curriculum included:Deputy Clerks participating in a Clerk Star training

  • Conflict Resolution and Bullying
  • Anti-Sexual Harassment
  • Implicit Bias
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Customer Service with Impact
  • Annual Ethics Training.

Staff will continue to receive training opportunities as the program evolves. The Office of Human Resources and Training led bargaining negotiations with AFSCME Council 8, successfully resulting in a new three-year contract, with tools to better manage, reward, and recruit Deputy Clerks.

Legal Compliance

Ensures the Clerk, her Deputy Clerks, and all communications are in legal accordance with the Ohio Revised Code. They also provide procedural and ethical standards for the Office. Compliance also oversees the accessibility and fulfillment of public records requests.

Clerk O’Shaughnessy speaking to the Central Ohio Association for JusticeAdministration works closely with Deputy Clerks to address their needs and strives to create a safe and respectful work environment. The Clerk’s administrative office is in the County Administration Building, 373 South High Street on the 23rd floor.

In 2019, Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, in her 11th year as your Franklin County Clerk of Courts, remains committed to the people she serves and the service her Office provides. By continuing to enhance customer service, invest in the growth and well-being of our Deputy Clerks, and by using the latest technological advances, she works to be the leader of the best County Clerk’s office in Ohio.

Auto Title NOW App

Accessing the Clerk’s Auto Title Division could not be easier. Download the official Franklin County Clerk of Courts Auto Title NOW App to access legal documents, search titles, and even view live wait times of our Auto Title branch offices.

Visit AutoTitleNOW.com to scan the appropriate QR code.

Website Performance

In 2019, our website, Clerk.FranklinCountyOhio.gov, received more than 4.4 million views, up from 4 million in 2018. Lawyers, reporters, and constituents from all over the world are accessing the content we maintain. The Information Technology Division provides significant bandwidth and maintenance to provide an accurate and user-friendly website.

Devices Used to Access Website Users By Time Of Day
clerk.franklincountyohio.gov Page Views

One-Stop-Passport-Shop

General DivisionThe Clerk’s General Division is an authorized U.S. Department of State (DOS) Passport Acceptance Agent. A Deputy Clerk reviews the completed application, takes the passport photo, and forwards the documents and payments to the U.S. Department of State. The One-Stop-Passport-Shop is open weekdays 8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. (not including holidays).

Perfect ScoreRecently, the Bureau of Consumer Affairs, U.S. Department of State conducted their annual audit of our One-Stop-Passport-Shop. They measure accuracy, timeliness, and overall customer service. We are pleased to announce that our Deputy Clerks successfully passed all 66 points and received a perfect score! Receiving this perfect score illustrates our commitment to providing timely, accurate, and courteous service.

Need more of a reason to apply for your passport with the Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ Office? Cut this page along the dotted line and present it to one of our Deputy Clerks for a free passport photo.

U.S. Department of State Passport Information
   Age 16 and over:     Age 15 and under:        Accepted Payment Methods  
 Passport Book*  Validity - 10 years Cost - $110  Validity - 10 years  Cost - $30  Check or Money Order payable to “U.S. Department of State
 Passport Card**  Validity - 5 years Cost - $80  Validity - 10 years  Cost - $15
 

Clerk of Court's Passport Fees
 Service Fee Per Application  On-site Photo  Accepted Payment Methods
 $35  $10  Cash, Major Credit Card, Check/Money Order payable to “Clerk of Courts”

*Passport Book is valid for travel anywhere.
**Passport Card is valid for land or sea travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.
 

345 S High Street, 1st Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614.525.3621
No appointment required | Weekdays 8am-4pm (not including holidays)
 

What to bring:

  • Correct forms of payment
  • United States DOS Passport Application
  • Proof of Identification and Citizenship
More Information​

Access the U.S. Department of State's website at Travel.state.gov for information on renewing your passport by mail.

Before visiting the General Division's One-Stop-Passport-Shop, review all details related to the passport application and calculate the amount due to U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Passports and International Travel site.

Two Clerks of Court

Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy works closely with her counterpart in the Franklin County Municipal Court, Clerk Lori Tyack. Below are some of the main differences between the two Clerk offices.

Maryellen O’Shaughnessy – Franklin County Clerk of Courts
Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy

Maintains the public record, receives and disburses payment for:

  • Criminal Felonies
  • Civil Lawsuits (damages $15,000 and over)
  • Divorces and Dissolutions
  • Juvenile Traffic Violations<
  • Court of Appeals Cases
  • Motor Vehicles and Watercraft Titles
Clerk-of-Courts-Logo
373 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614.525.3600
Clerk.FranklinCountyOhio.gov

Lori Tyack – Franklin County Municipal Clerk of Court

Maintains the public record, receives and disburses payment for:

  • Criminal Misdemeanors
  • Civil Lawsuits (damages under $15,000)
  • Small claims suits (damages under $3,000)
  • Adult Traffic Violations and License Suspensions
  • Rent Escrow
  • Environmental Hearings
  • Preliminary Felony Hearings
375 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614.645.8186
FCMCClerk.com

Historical Index

Visit our web page for a historical index of the Franklin County Clerk Of Courts.

Work For the Clerk

Looking for a new job? Join our dedicated team of public servants and take advantage of numerous employee benefits. External job postings are posted regularly on our website.

Work For the Clerk

Competitive Salary

$15/hour minimum starting wage, retirement benefits, flexible spending account, deferred compensation, life insurance, bonuses for longevity, and annual wellness incentives.

Premium Healthcare

Comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and prescription plans at a lower cost than state, national, and local competitor averages.

Generous Paid Leave

11 paid holidays, two weeks of vacation, and three weeks of sick leave (accrued), as well as bereavement, FMLA, and other leave options.

Professional Development

Tuition reimbursement, job-related coursework, ethics training, and the new Clerk Star curriculum.

Convenient Commutes

Deputy Clerks are issued an unlimited free bus pass for all Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) routes.

Work For the Clerk
“We are always searching for dedicated public servants to join our team.”
– Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy​

Apply Online

Visit our application website to view the latest job postings: clct.FranklinCountyOhio.gov/employment
Contact: Sonya Thompson, HR and Training Specialist: slthomps@FranklinCountyOhio.gov

Fee Schedules

Courthouse Complex Public Parking

Courthouse Complex Public Parking
 

"My office is dedicated to providing timely, accurate and courteous service to the people of Franklin County."
 
Contact Nick Tuell, Community Relations & Public Information Officer, for clarification or queries on this report.