The Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court is looking forward to the phased reopening of our courthouses to the public.

As the governor’s Safer-At-Home order expires, many counties and cities will begin opening their doors to the public in the coming weeks. However, we want to make sure the public understands that Florida courts are bound by the orders of Florida’s Supreme Court, and at this time, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady’s order requires that the only court proceedings that are held in person through Friday, May 29th, are those deemed “mission critical” or “essential” by him or the chief judge. All other court proceedings have been either rescheduled to a later date or are being held remotely, so even though access to physical court buildings will remain limited for the safety of the public and court employees, access to justice is not limited.

Some judges have been utilizing technology to work remotely, and some judges are working in the courthouses each day and are following social-distancing requirements; but our message to you is that judges in all divisions are diligently holding hearings and reviewing paperwork submitted to them in an effort to ease the caseload when the courts resume normal operations.

We all look forward to when the citizens of our communities may soon freely access their courthouses.


FAQs: Changes in Court during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Courts are open, but most hearings are taking place by video or phone. You can look up information about your specific judge’s procedures on the courts Divisions webpage.

The courts are operating but the processes have been changed so you can take care of your court business by phone or email. Do not go to the courthouse in person unless it is your only option.

Even if you have an in-person court hearing, you may not enter a court building if you:

  • Have flu-like symptoms, or
  • have traveled outside Florida in last 14 days, or
  • have been directed to quarantine, isolate or self-monitor at home for COVID-19 by a medical provider, or
  • have been diagnosed with or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Jury service is suspended statewide through May 29th. At this point, if you have jury service starting June 1st (call in starting May 31st) or later, you should still call in or follow the instructions given to you by the Clerk of Court’s office. If there is new or different information, it will be on the recorded message or posted online.

Yes, courts are holding hearings every day. Almost all hearings will continue to be held by phone or videoconference unless the court tells the parties to attend in person.

  • Criminal matters
  • Juvenile Dependency cases
  • Temporary or emergency guardianship and conservatorship proceedings
  • Protective Orders
  • Hearings about domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault
  • Elder fraud protective ordersQuarantine and isolation proceedings
  • Emergency situations if the judge agrees it is an emergency after considering all the facts and circumstances (if you think you have an emergency situation, you must explain the emergency and attach any proof you have to your motion)
  • Family Law cases (divorce, custody, dissolutions, etc.)
  • Civil cases
  • Juvenile Delinquency cases

For most people, no.

  • In some cases, a judge may allow or request that a person in a protective order case attend in person.
  • Everyone else, including parties, witnesses, and lawyers, must attend by phone or videoconference.

If there is an in-person hearing, the judge or bailiff will direct everyone where to sit to make sure people are far enough apart to follow social-distancing guidelines.

Please visit our Public Court Hearings page and select your judge* from the list. The “Meetings” links will take you to lists showing the judge’s morning and afternoon sessions. Find your session and follow the instructions.

To participate by phone, you need to:

  • Call the “Audio only” phone number listed for that session, enter the “Meeting ID” then the “Password”

To participate by video, you need to:

  • Click on the session’s “Join Now” button,
  • if prompted, download the Zoom software, and
  • enter the “Password” in the pop-up window.

Whether you’re participating by phone or video, please be sure to mute your microphone while you wait for the judge to begin your hearing.

Do not file a motion to appear by telephone. You can just connect to the conference line and use the associated access code.

*Not all judges are using Zoom videoconferencing. Please refer to your Notice of Hearing to verify which method you will use to participate in your specific hearing.

If you’re having trouble contacting your judge’s office, or don’t know who to call to help with your court-related customer service questions, you can call Court Administration. We have a small number of staff available daily between 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.:

  • Court Administration, DeSoto County: (863) 993-4644
  • Court Administration, Manatee County: (941) 749-3600
  • Court Administration, Sarasota County: (941) 861-7800

If you need to leave a voicemail message for us, please include:

  • your name,
  • court location where your case is filed,
  • phone number,
  • your question,
  • your case number if you have one, and
  • a good time to reach you.

If you need to update your address or have a question about your next court date please email the Self Help Center or call (941) 861-8191.

If you have an interest in a criminal court case, you can register for eNotify, a service that provides users with courtesy text and email reminders about upcoming court events. For more information, visit enotify.flcourts.org. NOTE: This service is available only for criminal cases.