, Clerk and Court Administrator for the Superior Court, State Court, Juvenile Court, and Magistrate Court of Liberty County, Georgia, is a graduate of Georgia Southern University
, where he earned a B.A. degree in sociology and anthropology. His post-graduate studies were in education. He served as administrator of the six-county Atlantic Judicial Circuit of Georgia public defender program prior to election as clerk of superior court in 1984. From 1975 through 1979, he taught at a high school in Southeast Georgia.
Wilkes began guiding the clerk's office during a time when Liberty County was urbanizing as the result of population increases caused primarily by growth at Fort Stewart, the largest U.S. Army military installation east of the Mississippi River, and at a time when automation for clerk's office and the courts was virtually nonexistent. Under his tutelage and in partnership with a private software company (Tailored Business Systems), various computer-based IBM mainframe applications were developed between 1984 and 1986 to enable clerk's office staff to effectively, economically and professionally perform statutory duties for jury management, accounting, case management and real and personal property. In 1994, Wilkes partnered with Harris Custom Programming (the company that bought out Tailored Business Systems' court applications) to create one of the state's first pc-based local-area-networks for Georgia's courts, providing further enhancements essential for containing costs and increasing productivity, most which are now standard in clerk's offices throughout the state. Notable enhancements included development of a comprehensive jury management system, digital imaging of court and land records, web-based (remote) access to court case information, online payment of traffic fines, and court e-filing.
Wilkes and former Gwinnett County Clerk of Superior Court, Gary Yates, were the architects of the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority
(GSCCCA), a one-of-a-kind state authority created by Georgia legislators under the auspices of superior court clerks of the state to create and operate the nation's first Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) registry. Wilkes was inaugural executive director of the GSCCCA and served twice as its interim executive director in 1990 and 1991. He was appointed to the Board of Directors of GSCCCA
in November 2000 by the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia and took office on January 1, 2001. He has been reappointed by the Council to the board since then. He was elected vice-chairperson of the Authority in 2001 and served in that position until 2012, when he was elected chairperson
. GSCCCA is the state agency that operates the statewide automated Uniform Commercial Code
(financing statement) and real estate information systems.
In 1989, Wilkes created and developed one of the nation's first court websites (www.libertyco.com
), which he continues to provide and maintain for public convenience.
He is a past-president of the County Officers' Association of Georgia
, which membership consists of the sheriffs, probate judges, clerks of superior court, and tax commissioners of the 159 counties of Georgia. He served as president of the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia for five years (1990-1995).
He served as president of the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Association
from 2003 through 2005. In 2013, the Association presented him the first Lifetime Achievement Award
ever conveyed to a clerk of superior court during the Association's history. In 1993, he was recipient of the prestigious Superior Court Clerk of the Year Award
for the State of Georgia. Presented by the Superior Court Clerks' Association of Georgia, the award may be bestowed upon a clerk of superior court only once in his or her lifetime. The membership of the Association is comprised of the 159 superior court clerks of the state, each serving as elected county constitutional officers in their respective counties.
In 1999, he was named County Constitutional Officer of the Year of Georgia
by the County Constitutional Officers' Association of Georgia. The prestigious award is presented annually by the association to one of its 636 members, representing the 159 counties of Georgia, for "his or her outstanding contributions to the association, the people they serve at home, and the citizens of Georgia."
In 2014, his constituency voted him as the county's Best Boss and Best Public Servant and named his office the Best Place to work in the county.
Wilkes served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Court Management (NACM)
from 1995-1997. In 1992 he was appointed to the Georgia Mapping and Land Records Modernization Advisory Board by then Gov. Joe Frank Harris, serving six years as a member of the board. He served for five years on the state's Court Futures Vanguard, a commission charged with visioning for the courts of Georgia. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia's Committee on Technology in 2004.
He has served since 1988 as chairman of the Liberty County Records Advisory Board, the local board responsible for operating the county's off-site, centralized governmental records repository-and since 2000 as chairperson of the Liberty County Information Technology Board, the local governmental agency that maintains and regulates county governmental technology. He has served on numerous other court management and judicially appointed boards and committees, is a member of the joint American Judicature Society/Justice Management Institute Pro Se Litigation Task Force, serves on various local and state boards and is very active in community-based civic, church, and charitable organizations.
Wilkes regularly teaches courses to superior court clerks, attorneys, bankers, title abstracters, and other professionals. Subjects he has taught include Georgia's Uniform Commercial Code, governmental accounting, intangible recording tax and real estate transfer tax laws, clerical procedures, jury management, record management, record retention, establishing an off-site storage facility, office administration, handling difficult persons, Internet web site development, and numerous other subjects pertaining to superior court clerks' offices. He is the founder of the Superior Court Clerks' Association of Georgia's ÉCLAT award, which is presented annually to a clerk (or clerks) of superior court for exceptional commitment, leadership, accomplishment and teamwork. In 2013, the award was conferred upon him for "a lifetime of achievement" and "his many contributions to superior court clerks and (their) profession."
He is chairman of the Mary Lou Fraser Community Support Foundation
, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting families; is a charter member and past-president (1998-1999) of the Liberty County-Armed Services YMCA, in Hinesville, and is currently serves as a member of the organization's board of directors; is a member of Hinesville Lodge Number 271 F&AM, numerous civic and social organizations; and is an elder, and past clerk of the Session, and treasurer of Flemington Presbyterian Church in Flemington, Georgia, where he was formerly editor of the monthly newsletter and served as president of the Men of Church, currently serves as church treasurer and periodically serves as a lay pastor.
He is a published poet and author and an accomplished self-taught photographer, painter, and woodworker.