Delaware County Recorder Melissa Jordan is making what she calls a “very intentional effort to find a logical way to rectify” 30 misplaced documents found in an employee’s desk drawer — some dating back three years ago.
“It’s my office. I take full responsibility for this,” she said in regard to the documents that were found on Oct. 19. “I think in an office of any size, people are going to make decisions that can’t be anticipated. It’s the way you handle and respond to the situation that is important.”
Included in what Jordan calls a handful of documents are affidavits, certificates, deeds, liens, mortgages and transfers. She said the discovery of the documents were the result of an inquiry about a document that had not been returned.
“We don’t let go of documents until they are properly recorded,” she said. “When documents are received, they are scanned, verified and indexed. Once the document has gone through the system and certified as accurate, it is mailed back.”
Jordan said staff immediately began searching the office once it was made known the document was missing. She said the desk of the employee where the documents were found was out of the office at the time.
Jordan added once the documents were found, rectifying the situation has been “priority number one.” She said the first thing she did was contact the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and Human Resources.
Chris Betts, assistant county prosecutor, said he couldn’t comment on the situation due to “attorney-client privilege.”
Jordan said the person, whose desk the documents were found in, was placed on administrative leave so she could investigate the situation, but the employee has since resigned from the recorder’s office.
“Since it happened, we’ve made changes so it doesn’t happen again,” Jordan said. “We’re still working on it. There are a lot of moving parts.”
Jordan said her office is working to “make it open and transparent as possible so everyone knows what’s going on.”
“We’re contacting the organizations that submitted the documents,” she said. “Those documents will be recorded out of order. They will have notations in the margin to alert whoever is looking at it that there are other documents.”
Jordan said the new procedure is that all documents are to be placed on work surfaces, desks and shelves.
“I want to see all the documents being worked on, on the desktops,” she said. “In the previous seven years, I’ve never had this happen before. It was an unfortunate situation. People need to have confidence in their government offices.”
Jordan said some of the records didn’t need to be rectified because they had been e-filed. The recorder’s office posted online a list of the documents that were found, and also posted a notice on the door of the situation.
“We owe it to the public to know if it affects them or not as we work through this,” she said. “It’s not ideal, but luckily, it’s a small number.”
Jordan was first appointed to an unexpired term as county recorder in 2011. She was later elected to a full four-year term in 2012. Her current term expires Jan. 1, 2021.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.