UNION — During a ceremony in which he swore him in, a federal just commended the people of Union County for electing Freddie Gault as their Clerk of Court.
All county officials elected or reelected in the November general election must be sworn in before they can begin their new term in office. On Thursday it was Gault’s turn to be sworn in during a ceremony in the main courtroom of the Union County Courthouse.
While the Clerk of Court swears in elected county and municipal officials, the clerk is sworn in by a judge and has the option of choosing the judge. Gault selected U.S. Judge G. Ross Anderson who he said he has known since 1989.
After swearing him in, Anderson congratulated the people of Union County for electing Gault as Clerk of Court.
“He is one of the most outstanding human beings I have ever known,” Anderson said. “I’ve been a judge 32 years and have worked with Freddie for 30 years. He was one of the most reliable and honest law officers I have known. The people of Union County are to be commended for their judgment in electing him their Clerk of Court.”
Gault then addressed the crowd that had gathered for the ceremony, beginning his address by thanking Anderson, not only for swearing him in, but for being his teacher during the many years they worked together.
“I want to thank everyone for coming today,” Gault said. “I also want to say a special thank you to Judge Anderson for taking the time to come here today and swearing me in. And I want to thank him for all he has done for me over the years. I have learned so much from being able to work around Judge Anderson and his leadership.”
Gault, who was appointed to the Clerk of Court’s office in 2009 and won a term in his own right in the November 2012 general election, recalled the beginning of his tenure.
“When I was appointed by Governor Sanford three years ago he swore me in and I took the same oath that I have taken today,” Gault said. “Then he and I spoke privately in the supervisor’s office. It is Tommy Sinclair’s office but at that time it was empty because we didn’t have a supervisor at the time. We talked about the challenges ahead for our county.
“A couple of days later I received a letter from Governor Sanford with some of the things we had talked about,” he said. “But he also included a Bible verse, that being Micah 6:8, and it says ‘He hath shewed thee O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.’ Since I took office I have done my best to live and to honor the oath that I took and this bible verse, and I will continue to do so as your Clerk of Court.”
Gault also looked back at the achievements of the past three years, achievements that he said were the result of cooperation between his office and other judicial and government offices and the support and hard work of his staff.
“When I took office I met with my staff and several others and asked what are some things we can do to make the clerk’s office better,” Gault said. “Some of the things like more office space, more staff I could not control. But there were a few things we were able to do.
“The first was with the help of Solicitor Kevin Brackett and Chief Justice Jean Toal we were able to implement the Court Management System,” he said. “The Court Administration placed nearly $500,000 into the courthouse. We are now linked with the Court Administration. CMS covers several areas of the court process, but to me one of the most important is the monthly reports are no longer handwritten, our fees and fines are more easily audited, and all court cases online.”
Gault said that Brackett also helped with funding that enable his office to address the problem of acoustics in the courtroom through the installation and panels on the walls.
Family Court improvements were also touted by Gault.
“I had security updates made to the Annex building, made some changes so that the entire child support staff can go to court and can do monthly reports and not just one employee as in the past,” Gault said. “We have been working with the state and in the next few months we will have a similar system of the CMS when all the counties in South Carolina go live with our new Family Court system.”
Gault also discussed the improvements that have made it easier for the public to access the mortgages and deeds kept in his office.
“Mortgages and deeds was an area that had been looked overlooked for years,” Gault said. “The equipment used for researching and printing of mortgages and deeds did not work properly and the copies were not always legible.
“We were able to purchase new equipment for the researching and printing of mortgages and deeds,” he said. “We doubled the number of computers used in the clerk’s office for public use. All without any increase to the budge. With the help of Supervisor Tommy Sinclair and county council we were able to place our mortgages online for public research and viewing.”
Gault also praised his staff of their hard work.
“I want to take a moment to recognized my staff and thank them for all the hard work that they do,” Gault said. “These folks work non-stop each day. Judge Lee Alford told some people in his chambers one day that he had served as a circuit court judge, family court judge, and probate judge and that he could say from experience that the Clerk of Court’s office is the busisest office in the courthouse.”
Gault also thanked his family for supporting him and his career, even when it took him away from them as it often did.
“First I want to thank my wife, Melodi, she has always supported me,” Gault said. “Even back when we were first married and I was working federal drug cases. I would be away from home a lot of nights and that continued through my career at the city. I missed out on several holidays with our boys when they were young but she never complained.
“With the election that we have just gone through when I would be busy and not at home she took up the slack, made sure everything got taken care of and never complained,” he said. “So today I want to tell Melodi that I love her and give my wife some flowers.”
Gault then reached under his desk and brought out a large bouquet of rose which he presented to his wife with a kiss.
The Gault’s sons, Jon Nick and Jacob, were also present and, while they didn’t get any flowers, they did hear their father say how proud he was of them.
“I want to tell them both how proud I am of both of them,” Gault said. “I could stand here all day and talk about the things they’ve accomplished, both are Eagle Scouts, Jon Nick is a sophomore at Wofford where he is majoring in chemistry and government. Jacob is a sophomore at Union County High School and he, like his brother, is involved in the drama department there and is also on the high school tennis team.
“What makes more proud is the life that they live every day,” he said. “The fact that they are not afraid to let their friends and others know that they are Christians and love God. And because of this they made one proud dad. I love you guys.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.