Clay County Circuit Court Clerk Indicted on Numerous Charges

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, has resulted in the indictment of Clay County Circuit Court Clerk Susan Birdwell.

Birdwell has been indicted in both Davidson County and Clay County on a total of 16 counts.

Investigators determined that Birdwell circumvented the judicial process by photocopying a judge’s signature
on expungement orders in at least 117 cases without the judge’s prior knowledge or approval. Birdwell then filed the expungement orders with the TBI for processing. Investigators could not determine the legal
sufficiency of the expungement orders due to a lack of documentation remaining in the individual cases.

Birdwell also retained at least 497 expungement orders in unsecured places within the office. State law requires the clerk to remove and destroy all public records within 60 days from the date the expungement
is issued.

On August 17, 2021, Birdwell met with investigators regarding the issues with the expungement orders. She
admitted it was wrong to photocopy the judge’s signature and not destroy the expungement orders as required
by law. Two days later, she gathered two additional binders containing expungement orders and shredded all
but seven orders. She did not inform investigators about those binders and made no attempt to contact investigators before shredding the documents.

Additionally, investigators revealed that Birdwell received compensation from an employee who administered
the county’s traffic school. She required employees who were responsible for the operation of the traffic
school to remit $82 to her each month. Birdwell was not entitled to receive additional compensation beyond
her county officer salary.

Lastly, Birdwell improperly accepted a total of $8,464 in cash payments from citizens and then used her
personal credit card to make online payments on their behalf to the Tennessee Department of Safety. The cash
should have been deposited with the Clay County Trustee’s Office. Birdwell earned at least $169.28 in cash
back rewards on her credit card because of her payments made to the Tennessee Department of Safety.

On November 10, 2021, the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Susan Beth Birdwell for six counts of
forgery, three counts of tampering with governmental records, and two counts of official misconduct.

On December 14, 2021, the Clay County Grand Jury indicted Birdwell for one count of soliciting unlawful
compensation, one count of misrepresenting information to a state auditor, and three counts of official

On December 16, 2021, Birdwell was suspended from office by Order of Suspension by the Honorable
Criminal Court Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial District by Designation. Jennifer Louann Ritter was appointed to serve as Circuit Court Clerk Pro Tempore during Birdwell’s suspension.

To view the investigative report, go to:

If you suspect fraud, waste, or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at
800.232.5454, or file a report online at: Follow us on twitter @TNCOT and Instagram @tncot
Media contact: John Dunn, Director of Communications, 615.401.7755 or