Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A life of civility

The Hon. Lee G. Turner(image courtesy of Douglas M. Kinney,

As parts of America seethed with ill will, Goochland Circuit Court paused in its deliberations to convene in ceremonial session on the morning of December 23 to pay tribute to Clerk of the Court Lee G. Turner who will retire at the end of the year.

Judge Timothy K. Sanner worked with Turner during his eleven years on the bench. He praised Turner’s work a “highly capable clerk familiar with the operation of the office and knowledge and appreciation for the laws of the Commonwealth. In addition to drafting orders, she has received and had under her control large sums of money with not a hint of a concern about their proper disposition.”

The Judge said that Turner was often the first to arrive in the morning and the last to depart at the end of the day. Since he became Goochland Circuit Court Judge, said Sanner, there have 1,000 days of court and Turner served as chief clerk for more than 900 of those.

Madame Clerk, said Sanner, expressed a kind demeanor toward all those with whom she has dealt. She has a reputation for civility at all times. “I am grateful for the years we have had together fulfilling the service of the Commonwealth.”

Acting always with dignity and courtesy is no small feat in a courtroom where stressful situations unfold.

At the conclusion of Judge Sanner’s remarks, the courtroom, filled with family, friends and colleagues, joined the Judge by rising to their feet for a standing ovation in Turner’s honor.

Judge Deborah S. Tinsley of Louisa, who as an attorney in private practice often appeared in Goochland Circuit Court, recalled that she first met Turner as a young attorney “still wet behind the ears.” Tinsley said that Turner “was always gracious and sometimes gave me a gentle push in the right direction. It is the personal relationships that make you a great clerk.”

Mike Caudill, Goochland Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and president of the Goochland Bar Association, presented Turner with a plaque of appreciation for her service.

Chief Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Dale Agnew presented Turner with an American flag that had flown over the courthouse on behalf of the deputy clerks. Turner said the flag was an outstanding gift.

Turner then spoke. “It has been a distinct pleasure to serve the Circuit Court and County of Goochland. I want to thank everyone in Goochland for their support during years marked by tremendous growth. We can look forward and back with pride. I appreciate the friendship of colleagues as we worked together with complementary skills to serve the citizens of Goochland. I look forward to watching Goochland’s future unfold.”

Judge Sanner asked Madame Clerk to prepare one final order commending her for more than 35 years of faithful service to the Goochland Circuit Court.

The order stated that Turner was appointed Clerk of the Court in October, 1991 to fill the remainder of her predecessor’s term, and was first elected in her own right the following year. He recognized her civility and helpfulness and protection of court records, both legal and historic. The order also expressed appreciation for Turner’s devotion to her duties.

The Board of Supervisors recognized Turner’s service at its December 2 meeting.

Turner’s accomplishments as Clerk of the Circuit Court include converting records from microfilm to digital format and record indexing from manual to a computerized system making them more easily accessible by the public.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court is an elected constitutional officer charged with a wide array of statutory duties. These include: attendance at all court proceedings and responsibility for all related documentation; actions pertaining to divorces, adoptions, garnishments; summoning witnesses; appointment of executors and probate of estates; all recordation pertaining to land ownership in the county; receiving monetary restitution for payment to victims in criminal cases; issuing marriage licenses and concealed handgun permits; and preserving records that date back to the formation of Goochland County in 1728.

Unlike “burned counties” who sent their records to Richmond for safekeeping during the War Between the States where they perished in the 1865 fire, Goochland records include old and rare documents. Their care and preservation were of utmost concern to Turner during her tenure in office.

The retirement of Lee G. Turner as Clerk of Goochland Circuit Court marks the turn of yet another page in county history.
Thank you for your service Madame Clerk. May you have an enjoyable and satisfying retirement.

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