Jackson County’s top circuit court administrator has taken paid leave while judges review what they described as “concerns regarding the expenditure of court funds.”
Teresa L. York has been on administrative leave since June 4, according to a brief statement issued Friday by court officials. The statement did not name York but referred to her by title.
York, whose annual salary is $109,262, became administrator in August 2003 and has worked at the courthouse since 1984. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
She is responsible for managing all nonjudicial functions of the court, including its information and records systems, human resources and other programs that support the judges.
Court officials have hired outside professionals to investigate their concerns, the statement said. It gave no hint as to how long the inquiry could take.
“The court is actively reviewing the facts in order to resolve any issues as soon as possible,” it said.
Although the administrator works in the shadows of the judges she serves, she is an important figure in the court’s day-to-day operations and its plans. The court employs about 800 people, a mix of state-paid and county-paid workers, at courthouses downtown and in midtown and Independence.
As the economy contracted in 2009, York assisted then presiding judge W. Stephen Nixon in working through $2.1 million in budget cuts and trimming the staff by 37 positions, mostly through retirements and voluntary buyouts.
In 2007, York was the court’s public face when prosecutors charged a 32-year-old courthouse purchasing clerk with stealing about $238,000 worth of computers and electronics over two years.
At the time, York said it was the worst violation of trust she had seen in 25 years at the courts. The experience, she said, caused administrators to change passwords, protocols and procedures to prevent the future misuse of court resources.
Other than to note that the current financial concerns came to the judges’ attention “in the recent past,” the statement released Friday gave no indication as to how long officials have been reviewing the expenses or the nature of the concerns.
The court will have little else to say publicly until its review is complete, the statement said.
“For ethical and legal reasons, further comment from the court at this time regarding the internal investigation would be inappropriate,” it said.