Rotary Club members learned that the Greensville Circuit Court Clerk’s Office holds over 900 record books and saw over 10,000 cases at the Oct. 15 Rotary Meeting.
JoAnne Conner said the Greensville Circuit Court opened on Feb. 22, 1781, George Washington’s birthday. Gentleman justices ran the court. They were men and women selected to serve and would rotate shifts throughout the court day.
The Clerk’s Office is a part of the sixth judicial circuit, which Greensville, Brunswick, Sussex, Prince George and Surry County and Hopewell comprises. The judges travel the circuit each week, so each court does not always contain a judge daily.
There have been 16 Clerk of Court’s in Greensville County, the first Clerk being Peter Pelhamm. He was the Clerk of Brunswick County and trained in the House of Burgesses. He lived near Pleasant Shade Drive in Emporia. When the County divided he lived in Greensville County, so he resigned and became Clerk of Emporia.
The Clerk’s Office holds over 900 record books. Wrenn added 10,000 criminal cases since becoming Clerk of Court. Conner has been Clerk of Court since March 1.
“As far as we know we have all of the original records,” Wrenn said.
2018 produced 742 criminal cases and about 260 civil cases.
Today people get summoned for jury through the Department of Motor Vehicles and voter registration lists. When the Greensville Circuit Court Clerk first opened, jury commissioners looked at a printed list of names and took every fifth name.
“Then they would have to decide if that name has served in the last three years and if they’re going to go forward or backward [on the list],” Wrenn said.
Once decided whether to go forward or backward on the list, names were chosen. Those names were then put in a box and 70 to 80 names were drawn out in front of a judge. The Supreme Court uses an automated jury system today. Major technological changes happened in the Clerk’s Office over the years. For 238 years the Office has been responsible for many vital functions of the Emporia-Greensville community. These include marriages, divorces, recording wills, filing a lawsuit and getting a concealed handgun permit.
At some point almost every citizen in Greensville County comes though the Clerk’s Office.
“While the use of technology has certainly increased, one thing has remained unchanged, and that’s our commitment to serve the citizens of Emporia and Greensville County,” Conner said.