Employee blames Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger for huge online backlog at office

Spranger says she has to investigate situation

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – If you're having trouble getting certain documents from the Macomb County Clerk's Office, you're not alone.

A Local 4 investigation has uncovered a huge online backlog at the office. Extreme delays have slowed down the processing of cases, increased wait times for entry of some judgments and orders and left some court hearing dates unclear.

The Macomb County Circuit Court administrator said it's the largest backlog they've ever had at the court.

As of last Friday, the clerk's office had 2,855 electronic filings to process, dating back to Oct. 3, and 1,486 LEIN system notes to process going back to Aug. 2.

It's a 45-minute drive to the courthouse for Rose Brookins, so she tried to get her mother's birth certificate online. She said she's been going back and forth with the clerk's office for more than two months.

"Two months is ridiculous, and I still don't have an answer," Brookins said. "It seems ridiculous. It's a simple request that somebody at the county building could pull this kind of information."

Local 4 obtained an email regarding the birth certificate situation that was sent from an office employee to a member of Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel's office.

The email stated that obtaining documents off-site is something employees can handle but, Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger apparently won't allow it.

"The clerk will not let us obtain anything," the email said. "She has informed us she will do this. A few other customers gave up and paid more to get it through the state. It really is only one example of how she makes vital records a daily hell."

Spranger said she'll have to investigate the case.

"Would you say that's an isolated incident or are people having trouble getting documents they need in a timely manner?" Local 4's Jason Colthorp asked.

"I can't answer that because it's the people that take in online ordering to do their job," Spranger said. "Also, the situation with my supervisors on staff."

"It shouldn't take people six weeks to get their birth certificate though, right?" Jason asked.

"It shouldn't, but I don't have the vital records on site," Spranger said.

"I told them I'm just waiting for a birth certificate, but if I wait any longer I may need a death certificate," Brookins said.

LIEN records include things like personal protection orders and warrants, but those are handled by a different department and are not affected.

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.