Dawn Farris, Braselton’s Municipal Court Clerk, was recently selected as the statewide Municipal Court Clerk of the Year.
Municipal Court Judge Graham McKinnon placed the nomination.
“I was actually really surprised when I found out,” said Farris. “I knew I was nominated, but there are over 300 clerks in Georgia. I didn’t think I would get it.”
Farris has always had a love for the law. Hoping to land a job with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, she received her associate’s degree in criminal justice from Gainesville College in 1999. She continued her education and received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Georgia in 2001.
Farris began working for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department entering tickets into the computer system. When a Court Clerk position became available at the Arcade City Hall, Farris put in her application.
“Honestly, I needed a job,” said Farris. “The Court Clerk position became available at Arcade City Hall and I had the right qualifications. Once I started there, I realized that I really liked the position and it fit with my personality well.”
Farris began her career with the Braselton Municipal Court four years ago. Farris says she enjoys working with the different departments within the justice system. In her typical workday, she works with the police department, code enforcement, defendants, attorneys, public defenders, judges, translators, DDS workers, the Georgia State Patrol and probation officers.
While Farris describes these typical workdays can be filled with filings and paperwork, she enjoys working for the Braselton Municipal Court.
“I really do love what I do,” said Farris. “I’m very thankful for everyone I work with, especially the judges. It’s nice to share the same philosophy with the people you work with.”
Farris enjoys the typical days in the office, but admits she looks forward to days inside the courtroom.
“I feel at home in the courtroom,” said Farris. “I guess its natural, when you spend so much time in there.”
It’s also in the courtroom that Farris finds herself busiest, constantly having to sort through paperwork.
Farris hopes to add to the occupation through her methodical, organized and professional contributions as a Court Clerk.
“I'm just one clerk out of many located throughout the state,” said Farris. “I hope my professionalism and knowledge augments the public's perspective of what all municipal court clerks are like. One way to reach this goal is for us experienced clerks to reach out to and mentor new clerks.”
Those who work alongside Farris everyday respect the organized and professional contributions she adds to the Braselton Municipal Court.
“Municipal courts are integral parts of local governments throughout Georgia.
And generally, the municipal judge, clerk, solicitors and law enforcement personnel must work closely to assure the smooth flow of cases and the fair administration of justice,” said Braselton Mayor, Bill Orr. “Dawn Farris' work in Braselton exemplifies just that -- professional, fair, efficient. Dawn's winning the Clerk of the Year confirms her professionalism, continuing education and administering the necessary functions of the court efficiently. We are proud of her work and proud of her award.”
When she began her career, there was no formal association for clerks and no Municipal Court Clerk of the Year award. Farris has watched as the occupation has changed throughout the years.
“I have seen the municipal Court Clerk profession grow by leaps and bounds in 12 years,” said Farris. “When I started there was no mandatory annual training. There was organized training, but no one was required to attend.”
Since Farris became a Court Clerk, a formal association for clerks has been formed. Farris has been a member of the Georgia Municipal Court Clerk’s Council for eight years and helped push forward legislation that now requires mandatory training for new clerks and continuing training for seasoned clerks.
Farris believes the GMCCC will continue to work to create more specialized training and management within the occupation.
While the occupation is growing, Farris says her biggest challenge is staying up to date on the ever-changing laws. Despite this, Farris admits a love for the uncompromising nature of the law.
“I love the law,” said Farris. “It’s black and white, much like myself. If it’s the law…it’s the law.”