§ 7A-102.  Assistant and deputy clerks; appointment; number; salaries; duties.

(a)        The numbers and salaries of assistant clerks, deputy clerks, and other employees in the office of each clerk of superior court shall be determined by the Administrative Officer of the Courts after consultation with the clerk concerned. However, no office of clerk of superior court shall have fewer than five total staff positions in addition to the elected clerk of superior court. All personnel in the clerk's office are employees of the State. The clerk appoints the assistants, deputies, and other employees in the clerk's office to serve at his or her pleasure. Assistant and deputy clerks shall take the oath of office prescribed for clerks of superior court, conformed to the office of assistant or deputy clerk, as the case may be. Except as provided by subsection (c2) of this section, the job classifications and related salaries of each employee within the office of each superior court clerk shall be subject to the approval of the Administrative Officer of the Courts after consultation with each clerk concerned and shall be subject to the availability of funds appropriated for that purpose by the General Assembly.

(b)        An assistant clerk is authorized to perform all the duties and functions of the office of clerk of superior court, and any act of an assistant clerk is entitled to the same faith and credit as that of the clerk. A deputy clerk is authorized to certify the existence and correctness of any record in the clerk's office, to take the proofs and examinations of the witnesses touching the execution of a will as required by G.S. 31-17, and to perform any other ministerial act which the clerk may be authorized and empowered to do, in his own name and without reciting the name of his principal. The clerk is responsible for the acts of his assistants and deputies. With the consent of the clerk of superior court of each county and the consent of the presiding judge in any proceeding, an assistant or deputy clerk is authorized to perform all the duties and functions of the office of the clerk of superior court in another county in any proceeding in the district or superior court that has been transferred to that county from the county in which the assistant or deputy clerk is employed.

(c)        Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), the Administrative Officer of the Courts shall establish an incremental salary plan for assistant clerks and for deputy clerks based on a series of salary steps corresponding to the steps contained in the Salary Plan for State Employees adopted by the Office of State Human Resources, subject to a minimum and a maximum annual salary as set forth below. On and after July 1, 1985, each assistant clerk and each deputy clerk shall be eligible for an annual step increase in his salary plan based on satisfactory job performance as determined by each clerk. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if an assistant or deputy clerk's years of service in the office of superior court clerk would warrant an annual salary greater than the salary first established under this section, that assistant or deputy clerk shall be eligible on and after July 1, 1984, for an annual step increase in his salary plan. Furthermore, on and after July 1, 1985, that assistant or deputy clerk shall be eligible for an increase of two steps in his salary plan, and shall remain eligible for a two-step increase each year as recommended by each clerk until that assistant or deputy clerk's annual salary corresponds to his number of years of service. Any person covered by this subsection who would not receive a step increase in fiscal year 1995-96 because that person is at the top of the salary range as it existed for fiscal year 1994-95 shall receive a salary increase to the maximum annual salary provided by subsection (c1) of this section.

(c1)      (Effective until July 1, 2020) A full-time assistant clerk or a full-time deputy clerk, and up to one full-time deputy clerk serving as head bookkeeper per county, shall be paid an annual salary subject to the following minimum and maximum rates:

 

                        Assistant Clerks and Head Bookkeeper         Annual Salary

                     Minimum                                                         $34,780

                     Maximum                                                          62,691

 

                        Deputy Clerks                                                  Annual Salary

                     Minimum                                                         $31,200

                     Maximum                                                          49,235.

(c1)      (Effective July 1, 2020) A full-time assistant clerk or a full-time deputy clerk, and up to one full-time deputy clerk serving as head bookkeeper per county, shall be paid an annual salary subject to the following minimum and maximum rates:

 

                        Assistant Clerks and Head Bookkeeper         Annual Salary

                     Minimum                                                         $34,780

                     Maximum                                                          64,258

 

                        Deputy Clerks                                                  Annual Salary

                     Minimum                                                         $31,200

                     Maximum                                                          50,466.

(c2)      The clerk of superior court may appoint assistant clerks, deputy clerks, and a head bookkeeper and set their salaries above the minimum rate established for the positions by subsection (c1) of this section if, in the clerk's discretion, (i) the needs of the clerk's office would be best served by an appointment above the minimum rate, (ii) the appointee's skills and experience support the higher rate, and (iii) the Administrative Office of the Courts certifies that there are sufficient funds available.

(d)       Full-time assistant clerks, licensed to practice law in North Carolina, who are employed in the office of superior court clerk on and after July 1, 1984, and full-time assistant clerks possessing a masters degree in business administration, public administration, accounting, or other similar discipline from an accredited college or university who are employed in the office of superior court clerk on and after July 1, 1997, are authorized an annual salary of not less than three-fourths of the maximum annual salary established for assistant clerks; the clerk of superior court, with the approval of the Administrative Office of the Courts, may establish a higher annual salary but that salary shall not be higher than the maximum annual salary established for assistant clerks. Full-time assistant clerks, holding a law degree from an accredited law school, who are employed in the office of superior court clerk on and after July 1, 1984, are authorized an annual salary of not less than two-thirds of the maximum annual salary established for assistant clerks; the clerk of superior court, with the approval of the Administrative Office of the Courts, may establish a higher annual salary, but the entry-level salary may not be more than three-fourths of the maximum annual salary established for assistant clerks, and in no event may be higher than the maximum annual salary established for assistant clerks. Except as provided by subsection (c2) of this section, the entry-level annual salary for all other assistant and deputy clerks employed on and after July 1, 1984, shall be at the minimum rates as herein established.

(e)        A clerk of superior court may apply to the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts to enter into contracts with local governments for the provision by the State of services of assistant clerks, deputy clerks, and other employees in the office of each clerk of superior court pursuant to G.S. 153A-212.1 or G.S. 160A-289.1.

(f)        The Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts may provide assistance requested pursuant to subsection (e) of this section only upon a showing by the senior resident superior court judge, supported by facts, that the overwhelming public interest warrants the use of additional resources for the speedy disposition of cases involving drug offenses, domestic violence, or other offenses involving a threat to public safety.

(g)        The terms of any contract entered into with local governments pursuant to subsection (e) of this section shall be fixed by the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts in each case. Nothing in this section shall be construed to obligate the General Assembly to make any appropriation to implement the provisions of this section or to obligate the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide the administrative costs of establishing or maintaining the positions or services provided for under this section. Further, nothing in this section shall be construed to obligate the Administrative Office of the Courts to maintain positions or services initially provided for under this section.  (1777, c. 115, s. 86; P.R.; R.C., c. 19, s. 15; Code, s. 75; 1899, c. 235, ss. 2, 3; Rev., ss. 898-900; 1921, c. 32, ss. 1-3; C.S., ss. 934(a)-934(c), 935-937; 1951, c. 159, ss. 1, 2; 1959, c. 1297; 1963, c. 1187; 1965, c. 264; c. 310, s. 1; 1971, c. 363, s. 2; 1973, c. 678; 1983 (Reg. Sess., 1984), c. 1034, ss. 88, 89; 1985, c. 479, s. 212; c. 757, s. 190; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1014, s. 35; 1987, c. 738, s. 21(a); 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1086, s. 15; 1989, c. 445; c. 752, s. 32; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 900, ss. 42, 119; 1993, c. 321, ss. 58, 59; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 769, ss. 7.11, 7.12; 1995, c. 507, s. 7.6(a), (b); 1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 18, s. 28.5; 1997-443, ss. 33.12, 33.10(b); 1998-153, s. 8(b); 1999-237, s. 28.5; 2000-67, ss. 15.4(b), 26.5; 2001-424, s. 32.6; 2003-284, s. 30.14B; 2004-124, s. 31.6(b); 2005-276, s. 29.6; 2006-66, s. 22.6; 2007-323, s. 28.6; 2008-107, s. 26.6; 2011-145, s. 15.8; 2012-142, s. 25.1A(f); 2013-382, s. 9.1(c); 2014-100, s. 35.3(e); 2016-94, s. 36.5(a); 2017-57, s. 35.4B; 2018-5, s. 35.6; 2019-209, ss. 3.6(a), (a1).)