Thinking Outside the Four Corners

Following the Florida Supreme Court’s order, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court limited the number of in-person hearings at the courthouses on Monday, March 23, 2020, and began welcoming people to its virtual courtrooms instead. The world was fighting a virus but the court found a way to “do justice” while keeping everyone safe and protecting the health of citizens.

The Florida State Courts System has been preparing for a large-scale emergency. After 9/11, the SCS created a pandemic guide, and all 20 of the judicial circuits have hurricane contingency plans. As a whole, Florida Courts have embraced social media and the internet (see the Florida Supreme Court’s YouTube channel) and they have proven vital in quickly informing court partners and citizens to changing court procedures.

Community Care Court Graduation Ceremony

Fresh air, fresh start for Community Care Court participants

Eight participants of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s Community Care Court assembled this morning at the Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center in Sarasota. Seated on the lawn under a cloudless, sunny sky they were there to be recognized for completing a specialty court program that will give them a chance to make positive changes in their lives. 

Artist Rendering of remodeled RL Anderson building

South County Courts / RLA Remodel

A “Notice-to-Proceed” with Phase 1 site work was officially issued on April 15, 2020.  This phase, expected to last until the fall of 2020, includes the construction of a new parking area along U.S. 41, rearrangement of existing parking facilities, new stormwater improvements, and preparation of the site for the new court building. 

COVID-19

12th Circuit Court is Monitoring COVID-19

The courts remain open.

The Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court is actively monitoring developments with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

The safety and security of the public and our employees is our top priority as we seek to achieve our core mission of ensuring access to justice. The courts remain open to the public and we urge you to follow the same precautions that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid the spread of respiratory diseases

Lady Liberty

High School Students Participate in Mock Trials

Chief Judge Kimberly Bonner, Circuit Court Judges Hunter Carroll (pictured with students), Andrea McHugh, Frederick Mercurio, Diana Moreland (also pictured with students), Stephen Walker, County Court Judge Erika Quartermaine and Senior Judge Lee Haworth volunteered to preside over high school mock trials on February 8. Local students learned about the court system and trial process through three rounds of mock trials heard throughout the course of the day.

Members of Engage Sarasota

Engage Sarasota Members visit the Silvertooth Judicial Center

Members of Engage Sarasota, a special program of Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, visited the Silvertooth Judicial Center on February 3 to learn about the judicial system from judges and court staff. Members heard about the work of various court divisions and how the local judiciary is addressing therapeutic justice and access to justice.

Judge Teresa Dees and Ruby Begonia

In Memoriam

Court Administration mourns the February 8 passing of pet therapy dog Ruby Begonia. The beloved bullmastiff of Luann began her nine-year career as a therapy dog by visiting Hospice houses and nursing homes. Later Ruby Begonia helped children gain confidence to read aloud through a school reading program, visited with children at Sarasota’s Child Protection Center, and assisted children in court through both the State Attorney’s Office and later as one of the 12th Circuit Court’s first pet therapy dogs; Ruby Begonia helped usher in the use of therapy dogs at local children’s emergency shelters.

DUI Court Group Photo

Department Spotlight DUI Court

The Sarasota County DUI Court is a specialized court that is unique, there being only four other DUI Courts in the state of Florida. DUI Court’s mission is to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders by providing alternative community based treatment, thereby increasing both offender productivity and public safety. It has been in existence since 2008, overseen by Sarasota County Judge David L. Denkin. The members of the DUI Court team include Director Nicole Durston; Assistant Director Mollie Cool; and Counselors Robyn LaPorta and Zjohnae Milton.