Letter to the Editor: Response to ’Setting the Record(s) Straight’

Published 8:18 am Tuesday, November 28, 2023

To the Editor:

This is my response to the article about Carolyn Garris appearing on the front page of The Daily News on Nov. 12, 2023 titled “Setting the Record(s) Straight.”

I am not opposed to e-recording of documents by the Register of Deeds. I am opposed to relying on e-recordings as the only method of filing. Keeping this vital information on hard copy has worked for hundreds if not thousands of years. E-recording has been useful for only about 20 years. All e-recording depends on the un-interrupted availability of electricity and special equipment to access the records. Because of this, hard copy books should be the primary way of recording with e-recording as the backup.

The new, unelected and inexperienced Register of Deeds took it on herself to stop recording hard copies without the approval of the Board of County Commissioners. The laws of North Carolina are clear that the Board of County Commissioners is responsible for the care of these records because they are so important to maintain our way of life. There is no State law that allows the Register of Deeds to act without the approval of the Board of County Commissioners.

Statements about the lack of available space are false. There is space available at this time for at least eight more years of hard copy recording. Discussions have been had by the Board of Commissioners about providing additional space beyond eight years.
Carolyn Garris’ reliance on The Institute of Government and the Secretary of State for her authority are pipe dreams. The Secretary of State provides archive space and sets uniform filing standards across the entire state. The  Institute of Government are lawyers at Chapel Hill. They provide advice about government law. Neither has stated or referred to law that empowers any Register of Deeds to act without the approval of the Board of County Commissioners.

Carolyn Garris violated the law when  she failed to follow the budget law approved by the Commissioners thru the end of June of 2024. She again violated the law when she disposed of records (7 truck loads) entrusted to the Register of Deeds without first obtaining approval of the Board of County Commissioners. She further violated the law when she admitted that not filing hard copies was easier and less expensive than e-recording. She is misappropriating County funds by maintaining a bloated payroll.

Hood L. Richardson
Beaufort County Commissioner