First bid made for court clerk

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

Suffolk’s Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney W. Randolph Carter Jr. announced Thursday he will seek election to the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court of Suffolk, a seat to be vacated at year’s end by the current Court Clerk Henry C. Murden.

Murden, 83, announced Tuesday he is ready for the next phase of his life to begin; that of enjoying his retirement. He also noted that while the elections are some time off, Nov. 4, he wanted to give potential candidates time to plan a campaign, a fact which Carter appreciates.

Randy, as he is known by the legal community, friends and family, was born while his parents were in Washington, D.C. The Carters returned to Suffolk to live when their son was a year old. He is the son of the late attorney W. Randolph Carter, who was a renowned lawyer within the legal community, serving his clients for 44 years. He and his wife, Ravis McBride Carter, were also natives of this city, as were their parents.

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Following in his father’s footsteps came natural to Carter since he spent much of his childhood observing the attorney in the courtrooms of Suffolk. However, where his father chose corporate and civil law, Carter opted for the other side of the courtroom serving as a prosecutor.

A 1971 graduate of Suffolk High School, Carter served from 1972 to 1974 in the United States Army before earning a B.A. degree in 1978 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In 1981, he graduated Campbell University School of Law.

He passed the bar that same year and began practicing law with the lawyer he’d spent his life admiring: his father. In addition to Suffolk Circuit Courts, Carter is admitted to practice law in the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Unites States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

In 1986, Carter chose to become a criminal prosecutor and accepted a position with the Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson’s office. Beginning as an assistant Commonwealth’s attorney, Carter was tapped to serve as Suffolk’s deputy prosecutor in 1998.

Having practiced both civil and criminal law, Carter said that while the position of clerk of the court does not require a candidate to have a law degree, it would be extremely helpful to anyone in that position. According to Carter, a court clerk must perform more than 800 duties within the scope of his job description.

&uot;The clerk of court is required to accept, record and index documents and he must also prepare orders for the court,&uot; said Carter. &uot;He would probate wills and other legal documents that are involved with the court system and all of them must pass through the clerk’s office. I believe that a court clerk with a legal background could better perform the duties of the office.

Carter added that when Murden steps down, his will be difficult shoes to fill.

&uot;Mr. Murden has been a wonderful, an excellent clerk of the court and he’s served the people of Suffolk well,&uot; said Carter. &uot;No one would really be able to fill his shoes. We can try, but it would be difficult to truly do so because he’s left a big imprint on the clerk’s office in the 45-years he’s served the courts and the people of Suffolk.&uot;

Carter is affiliated with several organizations and volunteers his time to many community service agencies including the Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross where he serves on the board of directors. He is also a member and past president of the Suffolk Ruritan Club. For the past 15 years he’s worked with Suffolk Fest Events Inc., serving on the board of directors and as chairman of &uot;Peanut Fest 2000.&uot;

A member of the Virginia Bar Association, and a member and past-president of the Suffolk Bar Association, Carter also serves on the Board of Directors for the 5th District Community Corrections.

The lecture circuit is familiar ground to Carter and his oratory abilities have taken him to address many groups including the Old Dominion Bar Association, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Services and Training Council, and the Chesapeake Public Safety Academy. Since 1993, he’s made presentations to the Investigation and Prosecution of Drug Offense (Top Gun) Faculty.

Closer to home, Carter has addressed candidates of the Suffolk Police Department’s &uot;Citizen’s Police Academy,&uot; as well as the officers involved in the Suffolk Police Department’s &uot;In-Service Training&uot; groups.

Carter and his wife, Luci St.Clair-Carter, are members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where he recently completed a three-year term on the Vestry Board, serving as senior warden during 2002.