SPRINGFIELD — Even though he holds one of the oldest elected offices created by the Georgia Constitution, Jason Bragg is always on the lookout for a new and better way to do things.
Elected in 2020, Bragg is the clerk of courts in Effingham County.
“We’re just trying to help and be as efficient as we can,” Bragg said. “I’ve always been a huge customer service guy.”
Bragg’s office is responsible for preserving Effingham County documents that date as far back as the 1700s. Georgia’s other original constitutional offices are Probate Court judge, sheriff and tax commissioner.
“I’m the official record keeper,” Bragg said.
The clerk’s office has hard copies of court proceedings, deeds and much more at the Effingham County Courthouse. It is in the process of making them computer accessible.
“We’ve got deeds keyed in (currently) through 1964,” Bragg said.
When constituents need authenticated electronic copies of documents to expedite court proceedings, Bragg or a deputy clerk can oblige them with certification in minutes. Requests can be made through the clerk’s website.
“My signature and my stamp are what makes (the electronic copies) official,” he said.
E-certification started in Effingham County three months ago.
“I think there is a total of 23 (counties) in the state that offers it now,” Bragg said. “... It used to take three days just to process (a document) request once it was received. When you include the time it took to receive the request through the mail and then sending it back, it took close to two weeks to complete.”
The clerk’s website (https://effinghamclerk.org/) is easily navigable and understandable. It features headings for notary applications, real estate transactions, court calendars, docket searches, trade name applications, eFile plats and more.
“People are still welcome to do research in our office but a lot of them — now that they can do it online — will stay in their office and do what they need to do there,” Bragg said.
The clerk’s website also has links to numerous important forms, including those for divorces, adoptions, birth certificates and name changes. Traffic fines can also be paid through the website.
Bragg’s office was recently approved to run Georgia Livescan fingerprint checks for people seeking adoptions.
“Within five minutes, I’ll have their results,” Bragg said. “We will put them in the file and we are moving. We are not waiting weeks on end.
“In the adoption process, that is a happy time. People are wanting to get it done.”
Bragg pulls the names of jury candidates from a state-maintained list of voters and licensed drivers. Once notified, candidates can complete required information forms via the clerk’s website, thereby saving court time.
“The third time we (used the electronic forms), we were ready to go at 8:45 (a.m.),” Bragg said. “The judges were like, ‘You mean it’s not 10 o’clock and we’re still messing with the jury?”
A computer process is also used to pay jurors. Lengthy waits for checks are no longer required.
Jurors are given Rapid Funds debit cards that Bragg loads with the proper pay amount on a daily basis. Jurors receive $25 per day — $32 if they are required to stay past lunch.
Debit cards can also be used for court restitution and other official purposes.