Local News

Wake Clerk Of Court's Office Clears Backlog Of Cases

Posted December 1, 2003

— The Wake County Clerk Of Court's Office announced Monday it has cleaned up a backlog of cases and files that date back to the 1980s. As a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to victims and the state have been paid out.

The good news comes on the heels of complaints about the clerk's management style.

Everyday, thousands of people come through the doors of the Wake County Courthouse. Many need help, and they find it in the Wake County Clerk Of Court's Office.

"I think I've done a positive job for the public. We're finally getting the resources where they belong," said Jan Pueschel, Wake County Clerk of Superior Court.

A year ago, voters elected Pueschel. When she spoke with WRAL last week, Pueschel said she inherited an office that was in disarray. She said she has now made the office more organized and efficient.

"We've cleaned up the backlog that's existed for seven years," she said. "We've found one quarter of a million dollars in restitution to victims and school board fines sitting in old accounts that we cleaned up."

The changes may have come at a cost. Thirty-eight people, roughly a third, have left since Pueschel was elected. Former employees accuse Pueschel of creating a hostile working environment -- an allegation she denies.

Pueschel fired Cynthia Stewart after 18 years on the job. Stewart said one day Pueschel would be polite, then the next day, she would be intimidating.

"The next day, she would walk up to that same person and start yelling and cursing and screaming at that person for no reason, and they would have no idea what caused her to approach them in that manner," Stewart said.

After WRAL aired concerns about Pueschel last week, a memo circulated through the Clerk's Office asking staff to write WRAL in support of Pueschel. WRAL received 11 letters from employees.

One person wrote, "I have found Ms. Pueschel to be a very professional officer of the court." Another wrote, "Everyone here is treated equally and fairly." Another employee said, "Backlogs have been virtually eliminated," and "Employees come to work on time everyday."

Pueschel said she is making positive changes and plans to stay the course despite what her detractors might say. More than $1 million has been paid out to victims and the state since Pueschel took office. In addition, hundreds of old cases have been closed.

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