May 22, 2020
NEW ORDERS SETTING HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN COURTS
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an order on May 21, 2020, establishing health and safety precautions based on a report issued by a statewide advisory COVID-19 Workgroup, of which Twelfth Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Bonner is a member.
Chief Justice Canady also amended an earlier order (AOSC20-23, Amendment 2) that provides comprehensive emergency procedures for use in courts in the pandemic. The amendments incorporate the new Phase 2 safety procedures contained in the COVID-19 Workgroup report.
We are currently in Phase 1, the time when all hearings accept emergency hearings are being conducted by video and phone conferencing.
Phase 2 is the time when limited in-person contact will be authorized in courts and court proceedings, but protective measures still will be required.
Transition to Phase 2 in the Twelfth Circuit will occur when it meets five benchmark criteria:
- There has been no COVID-19 cases in the courthouse within 14 days or the use of deep cleaning if such cases have occurred
- Local and state restrictive orders permit the activity;
- The community shows at least 14 days of improvements in case reporting;
- adequate testing programs are in place; and
- We have consulted with other building occupants and justice system partners.
Chief Justice Canady also issued an order creating a new pilot program to explore ways to let jury trials begin again using remote technology. Under the pilot program, the COVID-19 Workgroup will develop requirements and will select up to five Florida trial circuits to participate. At this point, trials will only be civil, non-criminal cases and all parties must consent to participate in the pilot.
To learn more about the four-phase expansion of court operations, or follow the activities of the statewide COVID-19 Workgroup, visit flcourts.org. Find links to meeting agendas and minutes, and guides to help you conduct business with the court using remote methods:
- Representing yourself and using video with the court;
- Managing evidence in video hearings in civil and family cases; and
- Arranging video hearings with people who don't have a lawyer.
FORECLOSURES, EVICTIONS ON HOLD THROUGH JUNE 2
Based on Governor DeSantis extending Executive Order 20-94 and suspending foreclosures and evictions through June 2, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s Administrative Order 2020-11.1 suspending evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic is also extended through June 2. It is not necessary for the Chief Judge to enter a new local administrative order extending the date through June 2 because AO 2020-11.1 included language that stated, “If Governor Ron DeSantis amends, changes or alters the timeframes set forth in Executive Order 20-94, the timeframes set forth in this Administrative Order will extend without the necessity of further order from this court.”
THE COURTS ARE OPEN
While only certain hearings are being held in the judicial centers, the courts are holding most other hearings remotely using video conferencing and/or teleconferencing software. Please check the specific division or the Zoom page for more information, or contact the judge's office to check on your hearing status. Find a list of judges, magistrates and hearing officers on our Judges/Magistrates webpage.
The Twelfth Judicial Circuit has suspended all non-essential or non-critical programs and services through May 29, 2020. For additional details please review previous Florida Supreme Court and local administrative orders with AOSC20-23, Amendment 1, AOSC20-23, AOSC20-15, AOSC20-13, and AO 2020-04.2.
Jury proceedings and jury trials are suspended through July 2. If you have received a jury summons please contact the Clerk of Court office in your county.