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Family Law Radio Show

14 July 2012

J.T. Simons Law Firm
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14 July 2012
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Jeremy Simons: Tell us about you and how you ended up, just being Paula S. O'Neil, now being the Honorable Doctor S. O'Neil, elected official in Pasco County? Tell us a little bit of your history.

Paula O'Neil: I worked for Pasco County, I moved here in Pasco County in 1987 and I worked for the County for 15 years and then was called by the former clerk and ask if want to work for the clerk, so I worked for him for 6 years so total of 25 years as clerk with county experience, and then when the former clerk decided not to run, I decided to run.

Jeremy Simons: Okay.

Paula O'Neil: And was elected in 2008 assumed office in 2009.

Jeremy Simons: In fact 2008 is when I, was right before I opened up my own practice, so for all intent purposes, you're the only clerk I've known.

Paula O'Neil: Oh, great!

Jeremy Simons: But your time so far as being the clerk is been successful but yet challenging. Is that the fair way to put it?

Paula O'Neil: Yes, we have a lot of budget challenges for sure.

Jeremy Simons:  I have over the course of writing my articles for Patch.com, I wrote an article about the cuts and judiciary and the need for additional judges and I've noticed recently that the time for processing court cases the judges are telling us that the resources are not there, the numbers of clerk available has decrease substantially, there is not resources to bring in, additional judges. Can you talk us about what you have experience as far as budget cuts since you have been on office?

Paula O'Neil: Yes. Well, we have cut over a hundred employees, so that really affected our availability for court time, most recently because of the latest cut, we have to cut our hours. So our office hours for court related business is now 9 to 4, where before it was 8:30 to 5. And that is because we have to cut 25 employees most recently, we don't the staff and the back to deal with the paper works, so the same person that's waits on you at the counter is dealing with the paperwork before and after the windows open.

Jeremy Simons: You know the most interesting sign that I see when I go up to file something or to get a domestic violence conjunction filed or assist somebody in getting something sworn under oath, there's a sign that talks about the increase in filing fees, filing cost, attorneys calls it them cost, compared to attorneys fees and then specifically it says that this increase cost don't necessarily benefits your office directly.

Paula O'Neil: No, in former years the clerks were able to divide up the money as it came in and then send the excess to the state, at this time we are allocated a budget , and so it does not matter how many cases we have, we're given a certain amount and we have to live with that amount. My budget was cut four million dollars($4,000,000.00) since I've taken office from sixteen(16) to twelve(12) million dollars, that's a huge change . When filing have increases and mandate have increase, so not only do we have bigger case load, we also have more requirements for indingency and other issues that come in, where the clerk actually go through other documents to prepare before it actually goes and appear on the document.

Jeremy Simons: And as the elected official to over see this process, what have you done to meet this challenges that you have been faced as a clerk?

 
 
 

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