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Longtime Akron Muni court clerk Jim Laria to retire

On October 31, Akron City Court’s longtime clerk Jim Laria will officially retire, passing the torch to a yet unknown replacement. (Photo courtesy of Jim Laria)

XERES KARABINE
Legal Journalist

Posted: 29 October 2021

It has been more than 20 years since Jim Laria began serving as the Registrar of Akron Municipal Court.
During his tenure, the Clerk’s Office underwent major technological changes that improved customer service and made court records easily accessible to the public.
“The clerk’s office is now fully automated,” Laria said. “We can accept payments online and members of the public can access court records from the comfort of their homes. In the past, they had to go to the office to consult their files.
“When I started working at Akron City Court as a bailiff in 1979, a correctable typewriter was considered electronic equipment,” Laria said.
But on October 31, Laria will officially retire as clerk, passing the torch to a replacement yet unknown.
“It’s time,” said Laria, whose term runs until December 31, 2023. “I’m ready for a change. I’ve done everything I can for the office and I have more things i want to do with my life.
Akron City Court Administrative Judge / President Ron Cable has said that Laria will be missed.
“Jim Laria and our judges have a good working relationship,” Justice Cable said in an email. “He has been a dedicated public servant and I wish him all the best as he enters the next chapter of his life.”
Summit County Republican Party Chairman Bryan Williams has described Laria as a “well respected and valued” clerk of the courts who is well deserving of the trust voters have placed in her.
“I appointed Jim to the position of Clerk of the Courts in 1997 and he served four full terms in a strongly Democratic district, which is proof of the remarkable work he has done over the years.
“The Democrats never gave him a free ride either,” Williams said. “They always presented their best candidates to run against him. “
Originally from Akron, Laria received her Bachelor of Education from Akron University. He also studied court administration at National Judicial College and was among the first graduating class to receive a Certified Professional Clerk designation from the Ohio Association of Municipal Court Clerks (now known as the Ohio Association of Municipal / County Court Clerks).
“Initially I planned to be a high school teacher and football coach but when I graduated they weren’t hiring teachers so I took a chance and applied for a job of judicial officer. “
As fate willed it, Akron Municipal Court Judge Bill Spicer hired Laria as a bailiff in 1979, preparing him for what would become a lifelong career in the justice system.
When Judge Spicer took over from Summit County Estates Court in 1980, he asked Laria to become a court administrator, which he did for the next 12 years.
Laria returned to Akron City Court in December 1991 to serve as Judy Hunter’s deputy chief clerk. When Judge Hunter took the seat of Summit County Juvenile Court in 1996, Laria was appointed to replace her.
He began in that post in January 1997, winning election for a fifth term in November 2017.
As a court clerk, Laria is responsible for maintaining and protecting court records, enforcing all court orders, and collecting and disbursing funds in court.
“I consider myself to be a commercial agent for the court,” Laria said. “It’s hard work because the law is constantly changing and around the time you get to grips with the new rules things change again. It keeps you on your toes because you have to stay up to date, which is what I love the most about this job. “
Laria is an active member and past president of the Ohio Association of Municipal Court Clerks (now known as the Ohio Association of Municipal / County Court Clerks).
He has also served as the association’s education president and served as the Northeastern Ohio Municipal Court Clerks Association president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and sergeant-at-arms.
Prior to taking on the role of Clerk of the Courts, he was an elected member of the Akron Public Schools School Board, where he chaired the Accountability and Long-Range Planning Committee.
Laria is a former Vice President and longtime member of Child Guidance & Family Solutions and has served as Treasurer of the Firestone High Aquatic Association and the Falcon Runners Club.
Laria has been and continues to be an active member of the Summit County Republican Party. He is currently executive vice chairman of the Summit County Republican Central Committee, which will appoint his replacement.
“In 1980, Jim was overseeing the Convention pages of the Republican National Committee in Detroit, which appointed former President Ronald Reagan,” Williams said. “It was a very big responsibility and he was very young at the time.
“The clerk of the courts is not a prestigious job, but it is important,” said Williams. “Whoever is nominated will have a big job to do and big shoes to fill. ”
“I am very proud of the many technological changes that have been implemented during my watch,” said Laria.
“It has been a pleasure to work in a progressive environment, where the court and its judges are constantly coming up with cutting-edge solutions to help voters solve their problems.
Laria, who turns 67 on December 1, has two adult children and three grandchildren.
Although he hasn’t defined all of his plans for the future, he and his wife Nancy plan to spend more time with their grandchildren.
“My kids live in Arkansas and Chicago and the pandemic has made it hard to see them, so my wife and I can’t wait to make up for lost time,” Laria said.
“I plan to take things as they come and enjoy life a little bit,” he said. “This past year has been a real challenge with Covid. There have been so many changes and much of the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the clerk’s office, which has had to keep the tribunal functioning during the pandemic. “

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