Updated Temporary New Procedures for Sarasota County Circuit Civil Divisions A, C, E & H
Even during the Court’s emergency operations, the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91 (“Safer at Home Order”), and the Chief Justice of Florida’s Administrative Order 20-23, along with any extensions of those orders, the circuit civil divisions remain open and functional. Certain nonemergency hearings within the civil divisions may continue. We are trying to have simple, uniform procedures that assist practitioners and litigants. Please keep monitoring this site, as we try to communicate updated procedures as quickly as possible.
In Circuit Civil Sarasota County, effective immediately through Friday, May 29, 2020 (unless extended):
- NONEVIDENTIARY MOTION HEARINGS.
Nonevidentiary motion hearings may occur at the discretion of the assigned judge. All nonevidentiary hearings, regardless of length, must be conducted via Zoom videoconferencing or telephonically. If there is a court reporter, the court reporter must be remote and not in the courtroom. Should the scheduled hearing present a difficulty for any party, please file a motion to continue and explain that difficulty. A copy of the motion should be emailed to the judicial assistant with copy to all parties.
- SCHEDULING HEARINGS.
There is hearing time available on JACS over the next few weeks, and nothing about scheduling hearings has changed. If hearing time is not available in the timeframe you need, or for longer hearings, please continue to contact the assigned judge’s judicial assistant. The judicial assistants have received a much higher volume of telephone calls. Email contact with the judicial assistant with copy to all parties generally is the quicker and more efficient means of communication.
- JURY TRIALS.
All jury trials during this time are cancelled.
- NONJURY TRIALS AND EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS.
Currently, it is possible to conduct certain nonjury trials and evidentiary hearings during the COVID-19 state of emergency via Zoom videoconferencing at the discretion of the assigned judge. The parties should discuss the logistics of conducting any nonjury trial or evidentiary hearing and to notify the assigned judge in advance for final determination as to whether the proceeding may occur. If a party has an objection to proceeding, please explain the reason or difficulty in a motion to continue.
- EMERGENCY MATTERS.
Normal procedures for handling emergency matters outlined in Local Rule 4b are still followed. Emergency matters must first be presented to the assigned judge who, in most instances, will resolve the matter.
- RESIDENTIAL FORECLOSURE.
All foreclosure trials for April 2, 2020, April 23, 2020, and May 28 have been (or will be) cancelled and they have been (or will be) rescheduled for July 9, 2020. The April foreclosure motion days have also been cancelled and reset for May. No decision has been made yet on the May foreclosure motion date. Foreclosure sales have been continued until June. The Chief Justice of Florida has directed that all clerks suspend the issuance of writs of possession through at least May 29, 2020.
- UNIFORM MOTION CALENDAR.
Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC) are cancelled through the end of May.
- USE OF VIDEO CONFERENCES FOR COURT HEARINGS.
The Sarasota circuit civil judges are using the Zoom video conferencing platform to conduct court hearings, although traditional telephonic hearings remain a viable option. Information about Zoom may be found at its website. There are no fees for attending a court hearing via Zoom. This platform will allow individuals to appear via telephone if they do not have an available camera.
- COURT PROCEEDINGS ARE PUBLIC; HOW TO ACCESS A COURT HEARING.
As a reminder, Court hearings remain public proceedings despite the existence of COVID-19. The Court has created a Zoom video conference page where attorneys and the public may obtain the log-in credentials for court hearings. Until the conclusion of the COVID-19, attorneys and parties must reference this webpage and, if then available, the log-in credentials for the Zoom videoconference.
- SUGGESTED NOTIFICATION TO ADD TO THE NOTICE OF HEARING.
A suggested notification to include on the notice of hearing is as follows:
During the COVID-19 outbreak, no person will be permitted inside the courtroom for a circuit-civil hearing, including the court reporter. All individuals, including the court reporter, must attend using the Zoom platform. Please select the “Join A Meeting” link and then enter the Meeting ID to access the hearing. There are no fees for attending this court hearing via the Zoom platform. No camera? No problem! The Zoom platform allows individuals to appear via telephone if they do not have an available camera. The log-in credentials are:
Meeting ID: [fill in]
Password: [fill in]
Telephone: (253) 215-8782 and use the same Meeting ID
If the credentials to access the Court hearing are not listed in this notice of hearing, please visit the Court’s central Zoom access page at http://www.jud12.flcourts.org/Public-Information/Public-Court-Hearings. The judges will attempt to place the credential information on this website a few days prior to the hearing.
- DO NOT ASSUME CANCELLATIONS OF HEARINGS OR TRIALS.
The Court will enter an order cancelling a hearing or trial. Please do not assume that a hearing or trial is cancelled. If in doubt, please email the Court’s judicial assistant with copy to all other attorneys.
Procedures revised April 4, 2020.