By Kim West
Brad Curnutt confided he was nervous but the former lawman smoothly alternated between thanking supporters to cracking jokes during his swearing-in ceremony as Limestone County Circuit Court Clerk.
A standing-room only crowd filled the cramped third-floor courtroom of the Limestone County Courthouse as Curnutt took the oath of office Sunday afternoon.
City Attorney Shane Black introduced him as “the right hand” of the courthouse judges.
“That oath of office relates to the public trust,” Black said. “When you think of a man that you want to put in charge, a man who has the public trust, you think of a man like that.”
Curnutt, 43, is a former lieutenant investigator for the Sheriff’s Office and was in law enforcement for 19 years before being elected by a landslide to replace the retiring Charles Page Jr.
“I’m going to keep working hard,” Curnutt said. “I worked hard during the campaign and that’s what I’m going to keep doing as (the) next circuit court clerk.”
In the Nov. 6 general election, Curnutt, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Kris Allen with 24,958 votes to 9,282.
He thanked the members of his church, campaign supporters, court employees and his family, including his wife Paula and daughter Madison.
“I appreciate Paula and Madison for standing beside me,” said Curnutt. “I did put them through a lot. It’s pretty testing on your family life to go through a campaign, and I really do thank them for that.”
Page, 60, was the longest serving elected judicial official at the courthouse and didn’t seek a fifth consecutive term after serving 24 years in office. He plans to help out with his three grandchildren and work on his farm in Tanner.
Curnutt officially took office today but was hired by Page on Nov. 13. He has spent the past two months shadowing Page in order to ease the transition.
“I think that it was a privilege to serve and work under him,” said Curnutt. “I appreciate everything he has done for me. It’s a true testament of his character because that’s something that doesn’t happen normally and I appreciate all the hard work he’s done.”
The Circuit Court clerk is the business manager for the trial courts and the custodian of court records. Curnutt is also chief magistrate, absentee election manager and passport agent for the county.
The clerk’s staff has decreased from 16 employees in 1989, when Page initially took office, to six workers due to state budget cuts. During his speech, Curnutt commended these employees for their proficiency.
“Besides getting to work with Mr. Page, I want to recognize the staff of the clerk’s office,” said Curnutt. “They have had the pleasure — they’ve been joking some about it — of training their new boss and breaking me in. It’s amazing how much they have to deal with, and I don’t know how they keep up with all of that.”
He said his biggest challenge is learning the court system’s computer software.
“Some of the challenges might be lack of staff,” Curnutt said. “The challenge I will face is just trying to get acquainted with the computer system but I’m moving along pretty good. The whole state is in a financial crunch. I believe we’ll just work with what we have and do the best we can do.”
He said he was looking forward to joining the court system because of ongoing courthouse renovations and plans to upgrade the office technology, including adding a website.
“It’s going to be an exciting here in the court system with all the updates in the computer technology,” he said. “In the future they’re going to be develop the second floor for more courtrooms. I’m kind of coming in at an exciting time. There’s going to be a lot of work up here at the courthouse to be done, and I’m ready.”
—The News Courier intern Rebecca Croomes contributed to this report.