NEMO Judge orders Circuit Clerk suspension; state audit

Mary Jones

The Clark County Circuit Clerk resigned late Thursday following the launch of an investigation into her office's finances.

Circuit Clerk Mary Jones was escorted from the building Wednesday afternoon and placed on administrative leave pending an audit from the Office of State Court Administrators.

The investigation involves an anonymous report concerning possible financial improprieties in the Circuit Clerk's Office made to the Office of State Court Administrators, according to a press release statement issued by the presiding judge.

Circuit Judge Gary Dial issued the order Wednesday placing Jones on paid leave. His office sent out another release Friday morning saying that he accepted Jones' resignation.

The State Auditor's Office will also begin its formal audit of the office Monday morning.

"We will examine the books and the records of the Circuit Clerk's Office," Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto. "Our audit scope is determined after we do some preliminary work. The citizens will see a final report from the auditor's office detailing what we have found."

Sherri Paschal, director of court business services division for the Office of State Courts Administrator said an accountant from the office is going through financial records at the Circuit Clerk's Office.

"We, on a regular basis do got out and do reviews with the courts," she said. "Depending on the size of the court and the volume of cases, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month."

The last OSCA review of the Clark County Circuit Clerk's Office took place in October 2008. The Missouri State Auditor's office also performed an audit that same year.

"Accrued case costs are not actively monitored and pursued, bank reconciliations are not prepared on a timely basis and records and monitoring procedures for open items listings (liabilities) are not sufficient," the state auditor's report on the office read in 2008.

Investigators from the Missouri Supreme Court went to the office early Thursday morning, Associate Judge Rickey Roberts said.

Details of the investigation are currently unknown to the public. Roberts referred all further questions to Dial who is on vacation this week.

A Kahoka police officer remained at the courthouse overnight with orders to arrest anyone who entered the second floor. Roberts wanted to ensure that no one had an opportunity to enter the Circuit Clerk's Office until the auditors made their visit. The officer was relieved from the post at 7:15 a.m. Thursday.

"There won't be any disruptions today," Roberts said. "I have a very busy law day today and business will go on."

Jones is an elected official who has worked in some capacity with the Circuit Clerk's Office for at least the three decades that Roberts has sat on the bench.

Dial's one-page order addressed directly to Jones says that she is not allowed to enter her office or the courthouse during her suspension.

"However, you will be expected to remain available during if called upon to return to work or to meet with me or anyone involved in the investigation," he wrote. "you will be expected to cooperate with all parts of the investigation and failure to do so will result in appropriate charges to be filed against you."

Reached at her home in Kahoka today, Jones said she didn't wish to comment.

We'll bring you more details as they become available.