Outgoing Oklahoma County court clerk leaves legacy of customer service

Patricia Presley, Oklahoma County's first female court clerk, retires Dec. 31 after 16 years
by Tim Willert Published: December 30, 2012
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Personnel director Teresa Davis said Presley has been a good mentor to those who have worked under her. Presley's smile and upbeat personality will be missed, she said.

“We kind of refer to her as the office cheerleader,” Davis said.

Presley made customer service a top priority and oversaw advancements in technology that improved efficiency and reduced costs.

Shortly after taking office in 1997, Presley spent $4,700 on a computer program to reduce the amount of time it took to register jurors by scanning a bar code attached to a summons. That investment saved the county approximately $3 million, she said.

During her tenure, Oklahoma County was the first county to image documents for judges, eliminating the need to carry files to the courthouse. At her request, Oklahoma County was the first to send traffic tickets electronically.

Plans are under way to roll out a new $30 million case management system for the state's courts, moving away from paper-based to electronic processes and linking all district and appeals courts under the same system.

Currently, 13 counties in the state, including Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, use one case management system; the 64 other counties use another.

Officials hope to have the system complete and all state trial courts online within the four years. The transition begins in 2013.

Eventually, attorneys will be able to file documents remotely, the court clerk's office will begin accepting credit card payments over the phone and most, if not all, files and records will be stored online instead of in stacks of boxes cluttering courthouse offices.

The new system will enable the clerk's office to serve people better and likely lower traffic going in and out of the courthouse, Presley said.

“It's going to save citizens a lot of money because their lawyers are not going to have to leave their offices to conduct business,” she said. “It is very possible that everything that is filed of record, provided that it is not filed under seal, will be available online.”

Rhodes has said that he wants to use the position to continue the work initiated during Presley's reign — using technology and proactive thinking to provide court services with less staff and with less funding.

“She has left this office in much better condition than she found it,” Rhodes said. “Continuing that legacy is going to be a challenge for me.”

by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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The things that I've learned from Patricia I didn't read in any of those law books.”

Tim Rhodes,
who will be sworn in Wednesday as court clerk, succeeding Patricia Presley

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