PEORIA – Colleagues of St. Clair County circuit clerk Kahalah Clay elected her as president of the Illinois Association of Court Clerks on Nov. 13.
The association elected her at the fall conference of the Illinois Association of County Officials, in Peoria.
As a member of the executive board of the clerks’ association, Clay has helped carry out a statewide transition from paper filing to electronic filing.
In an interview after her election she said that the Supreme Court has mandated that on Jan. 1, 2018, all trial courts must electronically file civil cases.
“The Court issued the mandate in January of 2016, and we have all been working hard since then,” she said.
“It’s exciting but at the same time, it’s going to be a process. There has been some reluctance which is understandable, but we will all get through this together.
“It changes life for everyone - judges, the Bar, even pro se litigants.”
Clay herself belongs to the Bar. She said she and three other circuit clerks in Illinois hold law licenses.
She took office in the courthouse by appointment in 2011, after the appointment of circuit clerk Brendan Kelly as state’s attorney.
She continued a conversion to electronic filing that Kelly had begun. Voters elected her for a full term in 2012.
Clay was the second circuit clerk to receive permanent electronic filing status from the Supreme Court, in May 2013.
In that year she joined the executive board of the state association.
“The innovations in my office, the importance of the Supreme Court’s vision, and the faith and support of my colleagues led to my initial appointment to the executive board,” she said.
Association members picked her as secretary in 2013 and 2014, vice president in 2015, and president-elect last year.
“I have helped shape legislation and worked within the association to foster all that the 102 clerks of the courts support and hold dear as an association of court administrators,” she said.
The association’s official purpose is “to exchange information, foster cooperation, and devise the means for planning and promoting programs and ideas for more effective operation of their respective offices.”
It proposes and opposes legislation. It cooperates with the association of county officials and the administrative office of Illinois courts.
No St. Clair County circuit clerk has led the association since Walter Flannigen in 1959.
Clay is the first African-American to lead the association.