The clerk of courts is an officer of the court that handles the clerical aspects of the court's business. Court clerks are usually elected officials who are responsible for court docketing, maintaining court records, hearing and trial calendars, budgeting and other administration duties. A letter to the clerk of courts should be in a formal letter format, dated and signed, with identifying information about the matter.
The Parts of a Formal Business Letter
A letter to the clerk of courts should be formatted like a formal business letter, which means:
- If the letter is not on letterhead, the first thing at the top of the letter should be the sender's address, followed by the date.
- Below the date should be the recipient's name and address, called the inside address.
- Below the inside address is the subject line. The subject line may say "Subject:" or "RE:," which stands for "regarding" or "in regards to." The subject line should indicate the subject of the letter.
- Below the subject line is the salutation, which is "Dear [recipient's name]" followed by a comma or a colon.
- After the salutation is the body of the letter, which should identify the sender and state the reason for the letter. At the end, a polite line thanking the recipient for his time is appropriate, followed by a closing line, such as "Sincerely" or "Very truly yours" and a comma. Below the closing should be three or four spaces for a signature, and then the sender's typewritten or printed name.
- If any documents are sent with the letter, the letter should say "Enclosures" or "Encl." at the bottom left to indicate this.
Addressing a Letter to the Clerk of Courts
The website for the court will have the contact information for the clerk of courts including the clerk's name and the mailing address for correspondence. That name and address should be used as the inside address for the letter.
The salutation can be directed to the clerk by name, but simply writing "Dear Clerk" is also appropriate.
The subject line should contain the names of any parties to a court case as well as the case number or matter number. If the letter relates to jury duty, it should contain the juror's name and juror number and the date of service, if known.
Read More: How to Address a Letter to a Prosecutor
The Body of the Letter
The body of the letter to the clerk should use clear, simple language, identifying the sender and stating succinctly the purpose of the letter. For example, if the letter is to request a new hearing date in a lawsuit, the letter should provide the sender's relationship to the lawsuit (i.e., the plaintiff or the defendant) and the current hearing date, followed by a request that the date be changed.
The body of the letter should also indicate the best way to contact the sender with a response, such as "Please respond in writing at the address above," or "Please call me at (123) 555-1212 if there are any issues."
Further Communications with the Clerk
If the clerk receives your letter and needs more information, requires a fee or needs to direct you to different court personnel, the clerk will usually send a reply letter or respond in the manner the sender requested in the letter.
If a sender receives no response after several business days, a follow-up phone call to the clerk to check on the status is appropriate. The court's website will provide the phone number and business hours for the clerk.
A letter to the clerk of court should refer to the case or matter number as well as the names of the parties, and it should be dated and signed. Typewritten letters are the preference, but if the writer has no access to a computer or typewriter, handwritten letters are acceptable but must be legible.
Rebecca K. McDowell is a creditors' rights attorney with a special focus on bankruptcy and insolvency. She has a B.A. in English from Albion College and a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. She has written legal articles for Nolo and the Bankruptcy Site.