Margaret Toot, the longtime clerk of the Gila County Superior Court is retiring at the end of the year.
"I have enjoyed being clerk," she said. Toot will retire Dec. 31, 2004 after 25 years in office.
She started her career with the county in 1961, working part time in the clerk's office. She was appointed to the position of Gila County Clerk of the Superior Court in 1979 to fill out the term of retiring clerk, Arnold M. Ambos.
Before the appointment, Toot had acquired an extensive legal background through three years with the Gila County attorney's office, part-time work for the justice of the peace, chief deputy for Ambos, plus work with several attorneys in the Globe area.
She said she has seen many changes in the justice system during her years of service. When she started with the clerk's office it had only 2.5 people, now it has 22 employees in two offices, one in Globe and the other in Payson.
Toot and Judge Barry DeRose established a part-time office for the clerk and superior court in Payson when the road to the county seat was mostly dirt and hairpin turns.
"We felt the Payson area was underserved and because the road condition made it difficult for citizens to travel to Globe for court, we decided we would take the court to the Payson people by establishing a clerk's office there and traveling to Payson twice a month to hold court hearings," Toot said.
The Payson's clerk's office has grown from one part-time clerk to five full-time clerks. The court has a judge present almost every day for hearings and, occasionally, a jury trial, she said.
Toot has served on many statewide committees at the request of the Arizona Supreme Court. She has also worked for legislation to make the court system easier to navigate and understand, so it is accessible to everyone.
"It's been a very interesting and exciting job, and you never stop learning because laws and rules change frequently," Toot said. "I will miss my staff and the people I work with, especially being able to help the public with some of their problems."
She said she is retiring because she feels the job needs a younger person to handle the 10- and 12-hour days.
Toot has recommended Gov. Janet Napolitano appoint as her successor Gila County Chief Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court, Anita Escobedo.
"I am confident Mrs. Escobedo has the knowledge and experience needed to run two busy offices," Toot said.