COVID-19

12th Circuit Court is Monitoring COVID-19

Courts remain open.
We urge you to follow the same precautions
recommended by the CDC to avoid the spread of the virus.

Speed Boat Race
Sunset and sea gulls
Manatees
Women's rowing competition
Sunset over Sarasota
John Ringling Bridge Sarasota Sky Line
Sand Piper on the beach
Sunset on Gulf Coast

Public Access to Court Hearings

View public hearings online via Zoom Video Conferencing software. 

Get text reminders for criminal cases

Enroll in eNotify to get courtesy text, email alerts on criminal hearings. 

Our Message to You

Public access to court buildings is limited; access to justice is not.
 

September 29, 2020

Although Governor DeSantis has lifted the health precautions and restrictions imposed on businesses throughout Florida, the courts, as a separate but co-equal branch of government, follow the requirements put in place by the Florida Supreme Court and its chief justice, Charles Canady. Chief Justice Canady has issued several administrative orders outlining measures for Florida courts to follow, including a four-phase operating procedure. These phases are separate and distinct from the State of Florida phases issued by the governor.

Since the early stages of the pandemic, the courts have continued to operate using remote technology in a continued effort to ensure that justice is not compromised. While some cases and court proceedings are more difficult to conduct than others, we are continuing to conduct court hearings and evidentiary trials by utilizing audio/video technology within our circuit.

On a recent episode of “Law & Sarasota,” hosted by Senior Judge Lee E. Haworth, Chief Judge Bonner discussed in detail the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and explained how the court has adjusted to the unique circumstances.

Currently, all three counties in the Twelfth Circuit have transitioned to Phase 2 operations in accordance with the administrative orders.

The four phases of the pandemic, as it relates to courthouse operations, are as follows:

  • Phase 1: In-person contact is inadvisable, court facilities are effectively closed to the public, and in-person proceedings are rare;
  • Phase 2: Limited in-person contact is authorized for certain purposes and/or require the use of protective measures;
  • Phase 3: In-person contact is more broadly authorized and protective measures are relaxed; and
  • Phase 4: COVID-19 no longer presents significant risk to public health and safety.

Phase 2 permits limited in-person court proceedings only for specific types of cases. All proceedings will continue to occur remotely where they can be done effectively. In-person proceedings will only occur as per the provisions in administrative orders AOSC20-23, Amendment 4; AOSC20-32, Amendment 3; and AO2020-12a.02.

The courts will follow social distancing guidelines, and we will conduct health screening as you enter the court buildings. Use of personal protection equipment (PPE) is required and the court and county staff will be cleaning and disinfecting the courtrooms frequently throughout the day.

If you receive a notice for court or a jury summons, please follow the instructions in the notice. If you have questions, please contact the Clerk of Court or the judge’s office, as necessary.

Most of all, please understand that the judicial branch has been innovative, flexible, and proactive in adapting court operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain committed to protecting liberties and resolving disputes with a priority given to protecting the public health.

Changes to Programs/Services
DeSoto County Courts: 

Legal time limits extended from close of business on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, until the close of business on Monday, August 3, 2020.

Specialty Court/Treatment Courts: 

Zoom hearings are here!

Contact the dropline for updated information:
Manatee -  (941) 749-3666 Lab is open for Drug testing
Sarasota -  (941) 861-8189. CTC contact Director Brittany Elkins (941) 376-6821
Desoto -  contact staff daily.

Mediations: 

Zoom or telephone mediation is available by request and upon stipulation of the parties. Please contact the following staff members for scheduling:

  • County Mediation (Sarasota and DeSoto counties)
    Pam McLeod, (941) 861-7833
  • County Mediation (Manatee County)
    Susan Gardner, (941) 749-3660
  • Family Mediation
    Maggie Pardi, (941) 749-3654
  • Dependency Mediation
    Michelle Smith, (941) 749-3600, ext. 7102
Deposition room reservations: Suspended until further notice
School visits: Suspended until further notice
Pet Therapy Program:  Suspended until further notice
Grand Jury/Jury selection proceedings,
and Criminal Jury trials: 
Resumed
Civil Jury trials: Suspended through December 31, 2020
Self Help Center: Closed to the public. If you need assistance, please send an email to SarasotaSelfHelpCenter@jud12.flcourts.org.

Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @12circuitFL for updates and announcements.

Read all coronavirus posts on our COVID-19 News page