Months before he began his tenure as Clerk of Court, Mr. Gegenheimer formulated a comprehensive, long-term plan to “take the politics out of the Office and the Office out of politics.” That phrase became his campaign slogan. But, many challenges confronted him.
Petty politics hampered the Office’s operations. It was bankrupt and couldn’t pay its bills. In fact, there was no money available for the first pay period when Mr. Gegenheimer took office. (The Office is entirely self-funded. It receives no tax revenues and depends on filing fees and other service charges.) Mr. Gegenheimer asked the Parish Council to loan the Office enough money to pay its employees’ salaries and medical insurance for the first pay period. The Council advanced the funds.
During the ensuing months, the Office eliminated wasteful spending, laid off politically appointed deadhead employees, streamlined its operations, and responsibly managed incoming revenues. The loan advanced by the Parish Council was fully paid off in six months. In one short year, the Office was on sound financial footing. Mr. Gegenheimer then formulated an ambitious, aggressive, strategic plan to transform the Office into an efficient, public-friendly enterprise that would provide the citizens of Jefferson Parish, the Bench, the Bar, and all the agencies in the justice system the exemplary service they deserve.
Listed below are the myriad accomplishments of the Office of the Clerk of Court during Mr. Gegenheimer’s tenure – accomplishments due largely to his decision to embrace technology:
The system was further enhanced by addition of a unique feature that allows a summoned juror to reschedule his/her jury service online and select a date that is convenient to him/her. Moreover, Mr. Gegenheimer developed a data-driven procedure that has enabled the Clerk’s Office to summon fewer citizens for jury duty.
Mr. Gegenheimer’s one-day/one-trial jury service feature was implemented in 1991. Nowhere else do jurors serve for a shorter time period than Jefferson Parish jurors. In most jurisdictions around the country, jury service is significantly longer than it is here.
The above accomplishments have not gone unnoticed:
(a) Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson called the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court’s Office “the gold standard in the Court arena.”
(b) The Jefferson Parish Council issued numerous proclamations honoring Mr. Gegenheimer and the Office for its achievements.
(c) Harvard University gave its 2012 “Bright Ideas Award” to the Office for its elections/mobile apps developments.
(d) Mr. Gegenheimer received the prestigious G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Administration Innovation from the National Center for State Courts.
Positive change must be an ongoing, never-ending process. The Clerk of Court’s Office recognizes that fundamental truth. More positive change, brought on by further innovation in justice and records management and continued development of new technology, is on the way.