Charlotte Clerk of Court docket race boils down to effectiveness | News

The two candidates vying for Charlotte County Clerk of Court are both of those targeted on the efficiency of the courtroom program.

The other candidate, Jeffrey Rapkin, is a Port Charlotte-based Supreme Court-licensed Circuit Civil and Family members Mediator who has practiced law in Sarasota and Charlotte County considering that 1996. Prior to commencing his very own exercise, he worked with Charlotte County’s Centre for Abuse and Rape Emergencies (C.A.R.E.) symbolizing victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.

He does not have a legal assistant or a secretary, and 90% of his consumers are pro bono, he claimed.

If elected, Rapkin needs to make the courtroom process much more available to the lousy — the people he has labored with throughout his profession. He’s designed a technique that streamlines processes these types of as filing for divorce, and fundamentally gets rid of the will need for a lawyer in quite a few scenarios.

“This is for men and women who would by no means be capable to employ the service of a attorney,” Rapkin reported. “If you make minimum amount wage, you’re not coming up with a $5,000 retainer payment for a large firm. No matter if it is a guardianship for your youngster, or a custody scenario, or a divorce … it is not occurring.”

Eaton prides himself on his capability to deal with his price range, and reduced it each individual 12 months.

“When I did not spend the spending plan, I gave the cash back to the citizens,” Eaton explained. “Over the past 4 many years, I have been able to give again more than $1 million.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Florida, Charlotte County’s clerk office, beneath Eaton, didn’t furlough any of its Clerk of Court docket personnel or close its doorways like encompassing counties did.

“I work tirelessly at this career. I’m not a politician, I’m a clerk,” Eaton mentioned. “I have been for the previous 22 several years.”

Rapkin has never labored in a clerk’s workplace in advance of. But he reported he determined to run for workplace after he realized of Eaton’s sexual harassment scandal with former Chief Courtroom Functions Officer Nirupa Netram.

After Netram was fired, she filed a discrimination lawsuit, which was settled for $68,000. She claimed Eaton made unwanted improvements, which include inquiring her what she wore on weekends and demanding she accompany him to social functions.

“He committed sexual harassment — it’s illegal,” Rapkin claimed. “It’s a single factor to have reprehensible conduct, and it is a further totally to use taxpayer bucks to cover it from the public, which is what he’s performing.”

Eaton contends that the allegation was untrue, and an investigation by his Human Means department reportedly located no evidence of sexual harassment.

“I would’ve beloved to fight (the lawsuit),” Eaton explained. “But lawyers experienced instructed me that it would be more cost-effective to the taxpayers to go ahead and just settle it, vs . to drag on and price five, six moments more.”

Eaton has been included in the neighborhood considering that he moved to Charlotte County 22 several years ago, coaching the Port Charlotte Bandits football workforce and serving on the United Way board for a long time.

“I’m very passionate,” Eaton said. “I really like this position and I really like this neighborhood.”

Rapkin claimed that if he’s elected, he’ll be answering the phone when a resident phone calls the clerk’s business.

“No additional pressing 1 for this or urgent 2 for that,” he claimed. “You’re going to get a human staying when someone phone calls.”

The election is Nov. 3 and early voting commences Oct. 19.