All officially sanctioned uses of a courtroom by a judge must adhere to a specific schedule, which is called a docket. A calendar docket clerk is the person responsible for writing and maintaining this schedule, which typically applies to all types of hearings, from simple traffic court procedures and arraignments to hearings and actual court trials. The calendar docket clerk sets schedules based upon the complexity of these hearings and the number of cases to be seen by a judge, and must balance the availability of courtrooms and judges with the rights of participants to speedy trials and attorneys.
Generally, these docket clerks are public employees working for the local jurisdiction of a court. They are typically assigned to specific areas of the law; for example, one clerk may be in charge of handling the calendar docket for traffic and misdemeanor violations, as these can allow a judge to hear many cases within a single session. Another clerk may handle civil trials, and another may handle criminal cases. Because defendants and plaintiffs have a right not only to legal representation but also a trial by jury, the docket can be very intricate and most clerks rely on dedicated software to assist in the scheduling process.
Because only a judge is legally allowed to set or move additional court dates based on continuances or further hearings, docket clerks often use computer scheduling programs to print available future dates for the judge so he/she can determine when future hearings will be set. Calendar docket clerks also generate communication, typically using regular and registered mail, to alert citizens, attorneys, and even jurors of upcoming court appearances, postponements, or cancellations.
Some large law firms, particularly those that deal with complex criminal cases or a high volume of misdemeanor or traffic cases, also hire legal calendar docket clerks. In these positions, the clerks typically alert attorneys regarding upcoming hearings, adjustments, and changes via mail, while also using telephone, text, and email communication.
Aspiring legal calendar docket clerks should receive training from a licensed vocational or technical school in an appropriate field. They must also be skilled with computers and the scheduling software to be used for the courtroom, as well as organized, excellent communicators, and able to keep a schedule at all times. Most in this position work regular hours and evenings during the week.
Calendar Docket Clerk, Legal Tasks
Maintain and update firm wide calendar docket database.
Review documents prior to filing at court.
Monitor and interpret court rules.
Create and provide docket reports to legal staff.