Requirements and Information

February 9, 2024

Edward Nicholas, Circuit Judge

Debbie Trusz, Judicial Assistant

Requirements & Information


The Twelfth Judicial Circuit provides spoken language court interpreters to limited-English-proficient persons in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, section 90.606, Florida Statutes, and Rule 2.560, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. If you require the assistance of an interpreter, please submit your request using the Interpreter Request Form or please call 941‑749‑3659. Please submit your request as early as possible, requests made with less than 5 business days’ notice may not be able to be accommodated.

Self-Represented Litigants Please read if you do not have an attorney

The Judge must apply the same rules to all parties, regardless of whether you have an attorney. The Judge may not talk to you about your case outside of the courtroom, so please do not call to speak with the Judge. The Court’s Judicial Assistant can help you schedule a hearing. The Judicial Assistant may not help you with your case or send information to the other party or attorney for you. The Judicial Assistant may not “give the Judge a message.” Additionally, please do not ask the Judicial Assistant for the outcome of a hearing or verify that an order has been signed; you may review the Clerk’s website for details about your case. Please remember that whenever you file something with the Clerk or provide the Judge a copy, you must send a copy to all of the attorneys or parties at the same time.

Standards of Professionalism

All attorneys must follow the Twelfth Circuit Standards of Professionalism, which are also available on the Manatee County Bar Association’s website.

Scheduling Hearings

You must schedule hearings one hour in duration or less through the JACS. Please do not combine timeslots. Please contact the Court’s Judicial Assistant to schedule hearings requiring more than one hour or if you are not finding available hearing time.

Pro se parties must email a copy of the motion(s) to the Judicial Assistant they want hearing time for. The Judicial Assistant will provide hearing options for the parties to coordinate.

In-Person Hearing

The following hearings shall be conducted in-person, unless otherwise ordered by the Court: Jury Trials, Non-Jury Trials, Foreclosure Trials and Evidentiary Hearings more than one hour in length. The procedures for a Zoom witness appearance are located on the Technology Services page of this website.

Remote Hearings

All other hearings will be conducted using the Zoom platform or via tele- conference. In order to promote efficiency, convenience, and a cost-effective resolution of cases. Judge Nicholas will Host all Zoom Hearings.

Please visit the Public Court Hearings page for Zoom log-on credentials and procedures, including requirements for noticing a Zoom hearing, Zoom etiquette, etc.

The Remote Courtroom is still a public Courtroom. Unless you are unable, the Court expects that you attend the Remote hearing with your camera on and that you conduct yourself professionally.

If all parties agree, Non-Jury Trials and Evidentiary Hearings more than one hour in length may be conducted by Zoom. For evidentiary hearings, the hearing notice must indicate that all parties agree to the hearing occurring remotely and must comply with the Zoom hearing notice requirements referenced above. If the parties agree, there is no need to file a motion or obtain an order of approval by the Court. Please remember that the Court cannot electronically file your exhibits, and they must be either filed in the Court file or you must send a hard copy in advance of the hearing or trial. When in doubt, please contact the Judicial Assistant before an evidentiary hearing to make sure that your evidence will be properly submitted before the Court.

Any witness testifying at an evidentiary hearing or non-jury trial by Zoom must appear on camera and must present a valid form of identification.

If all parties agree to an in-person hearing for a hearing that is not listed in the “in-person” section above, you may notice the hearing for an in-person hearing without permission of the Court. You must include all parties’ agreement on the notice of hearing.

If you wish to have your hearing in-person, and it is a hearing that is not listed in the “in-person” section, but there is not an agreement among all parties, you may file a motion with the Court stating good cause that the hearing should proceed in-person rather than by Zoom. Unfamiliarity with Zoom is generally not considered good cause by the Court. There are resources explaining how to use Zoom on the 12th Judicial Circuit website, or you may contact the self-help center at 941‑861‑8191.

Hearings Scheduled Unilaterally

The Court expects parties to cooperate with each other in an effort to resolve scheduling issues and follow the Standards of Professionalism. If parties are unable to agree on a hearing date, the movant shall schedule a 15-minute status conference (telephonic is acceptable) to discuss the scheduling issues with the Judge.

Cross–Noticing Hearings

You must notify the scheduling attorney of a cross-notice. The cross-notice issue will only be heard if approved by opposing counsel and the scheduled time allows. Please send copies of the motion and the cross-notice to the Judge’s office.

Noticing Hearings

Please refer to Judge Nicholas’s Zoom instructions for hearing date that you selected.

Cancelling Hearings

You must cancel hearings using JACS. When the Court’s Judicial Assistant has finalized the docket— approximately five days in advance of the hearing— JACS will not permit you to cancel the hearing. In that situation, please call or email the Judicial Assistant to cancel a hearing. You must immediately send notice of cancellation to all parties upon filing into the court file.

Courtesy Copies

Regular Hearing Paperwork

Please provide all hearing paperwork to the judicial assistant. Case law and supporting documents should be provided at least (5) days prior to the date of the hearing. For voluminous submissions, the Court appreciates hard copies. Any paperwork larger than 15 pages must be submitted either via U.S. Mail, overnight, Federal Express or hand delivered.

Exhibits for Evidentiary Hearings

Please submit hard copies of exhibits to the Court three days prior to the hearing, properly marked and with an index: Please email the judicial assistant prior to the hearing confirming receipt of the hard copies.

Specific Motions/Hearings

Emergency Hearings

True emergencies are rare. Any motion requesting emergency hearing time must explain the emergency, the anticipated time needed, and, where appropriate, good faith efforts to resolve the matter without Court intervention. The attorney or party filing the motion must email a copy to the Court’s Judicial Assistant. The Court will determine how to handle the request.

Evidentiary Hearings

Please confer with opposing counsel prior to setting the hearing to properly estimate the length of hearing. Please submit hard copies of exhibits to the Court three days prior to the hearing, properly marked and with an index: Please email the judicial assistant prior to the hearing confirming receipt of the hard copies.

Motions for Temporary Injunctions

All motions for temporary injunction must be emailed to the Judicial Assistant promptly upon filing. Do not set these for hearing without leave of court. The Court will likely set a status conference to determine the date and length of the hearing.

Motions for Attorney Fees/Costs

This Court allows a Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs to proceed on the issue of entitlement only. Following the hearing and if entitlement is found, this Court usually requires informal mediation as to the issue of amount. If mediation is unsuccessful and counsel are unable to stipulate and submit an agreed Order to the Court, the Movant may proceed to schedule a second hearing as to amount of fees/costs to be awarded. Please refer to the guidelines for conducting an evidentiary hearing.

Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration or New Trial

Do not set these for hearing.

All Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration, or for New Trial should be submitted directly to the Judge's office along with a cover letter. The judge will first review the motion to determine whether a hearing is required.

Withdrawing/Substituting as Attorney

No hearing is needed if you file and submit client consent to the Court with the motion and proposed order. Otherwise, you must notice the motion for hearing and include the client on the certificate of service.

Civil Magistrate David Caskey and Magistrate Bradley Ellis

The Court recognizes that hearing time is often limited due to substantial demand. Therefore, the following matters shall be scheduled before Magistrate Caskey or Magistrate Ellis unless either side files a written objection:

  • all motions directed to the pleadings,
  • discovery,
  • service of process,
  • jurisdiction, and
  • arbitration.

These motions are scheduled in JACS. In addition to the traditional matters heard by Magistrate Caskey or heard by Magistrate Ellis the parties may utilize Magistrate Caskey or Magistrate Ellis for any other matter to which the parties consent, including injunction hearings and summary judgment motions.

Prior to scheduling a hearing before Magistrate Caskey, you must complete the “Order of Referral” and submit the Order for entry to the assigned Judge. A form Order can be found under the Forms section of the Circuit Civil page of this website.

Feel free to contact Debbie Trusz for help.

Motion Hearings Before the Magistrate

The following is a list of motions that are to be scheduled with Magistrate Caskey or Magistrate Ellis, absent a written objection. The list below is not all inclusive. If you have a motion NOT listed below that is either discovery related or directed to a pleading, that motion should be scheduled in front of the Magistrate. The only time one of these motions is to be scheduled in front of the assigned Judge is if an “Objection to Referral to Magistrate” has been filed.

Discovery-Related Motions
Compel, Contempt, Discovery Order (other than ex parte), Extend Time, Objections to motions, Interrogatories, Objections to Production, Protective Order, Quash, Sanctions (re: Discovery Matters), any additional discovery-related motion not listed
Motions Directed to Pleadings
Add/Drop Parties, (including substitution of parties), Amend, Default, Default Final Judgment, Dismiss, Intervene, Judgment on Pleadings, More Definite Statement, Strike, any additional motion directed to pleadings not listed
Miscellaneous Motions
Abate, Compel Arbitration, Confirm Arbitration, Compel Mediation, Quash Service, Sever, Transfer Jurisdiction/Venue, Vacate/Set Aside (on non-trial related issues)
Withdrawal of Counsel
May be heard by magistrate or assigned Judge
 Motions not Heard by Magistrate: Vacate Final Judgment, Writ of Possession and any trial-related motions (Limine, Strike Witnesses and Exhibit lists, Trial Continuances, etc.)

Foreclosure Hearings

Regular Foreclosure Motions and Summary Judgment Motions shall be heard by Zoom. All residential mortgage foreclosure trials, whether Homestead or Non-Homestead, must be set using JACS and placed onto either the Foreclosure Contested docket or Foreclosure Uncontested docket before the assigned judge (currently Judge Diana Moreland). Residential Mortgage Foreclosure, please visit the Foreclosure page.

Hearings scheduled on the wrong docket may be cancelled without notice.

Commercial and Real Property Foreclosures

All commercial or real property foreclosures (basically, everything except residential or nonresidential foreclosures) must be set before the assigned Judge using the assigned Judge’s regular, JACS calendar.

Proposed Orders, Envelopes

Proposed orders should be sent electronically in Word format to the judicial assistant. Do not e-file your proposed Order through the e-portal. Please include email addresses on the certificate of service. For orders that require service via mail delivery, please indicate in the cover letter that postage paid envelopes and copies for conforming are included. Parties shall only submit a proposed order when all attorneys or parties agree on the form. If there is a disagreement on the form, or an attorney does not respond within a reasonable period of time, you may then send the proposed order with a concise statement identifying the disagreement and the steps you took. The opposing attorney may submit at the same time an alternate proposed order.

Please do not email Proposed Orders and also send via mail as this may result in duplicate Orders being entered.
Litigation by Letter or Email

This Court does not allow litigation by letter or email (sending multiple competing letters/emails to the Court outlining disputed issues in an attempt to have the last word). If the parties cannot agree on an order or on scheduling, an appropriate motion should be filed and set for hearing or a Case Management hearing may be set.


Whenever a case settles, the parties shall immediately provide written notice to the Court’s Judicial Assistant. You still must file a Voluntary Dismissal, submit a proposed Order of Dismissal or Final Judgment, or take some other action to lawfully end the case.

Setting a Case for Trial & Pretrial Motions

Civil Jury Trials

Jury Trials are conducted in-person and are governed by the Order setting the case for trial. For cases filed after April 30, 2021, the Court will follow the 12th Judicial Circuit’s case management protocol to set cases.

Foreclosure Cases

Foreclosure trials will take place before the foreclosure trial judge (currently Judge Moreland) via Zoom. For a list of foreclosure trial dates and foreclosure trial orders, please refer to the Foreclosure page on this website. The Mortgage Foreclosure trial dates are posted as a courtesy for planning purposes only. You may submit a cover letter with your preferred trial term, but the Court is NOT bound by that request. The Court has discretion on closing trial terms without notice to control the number of cases set for any given trial term. To schedule a foreclosure non-jury trial, you must prepare a Notice for Non-Jury Trial. This Notice must be e-filed and appear on the docket. Prepare a form Foreclosure Non-Jury Trial Order, leaving the date of trial blank. The Court will issue an Order Setting the trial by Zoom with specific instructions.

Trial and Pre-trial Conference Dates, Orders

For Trial and Pre-Trial Conference dates through 2022, as well as scheduling orders, please refer to the Civil page of this website. (See Calendars and Forms)

Cases at Issue/Ready for Trial Order

When a case is at issue, you have two options:

  1. schedule a Case Management hearing, select a date from JACS, download and fill out the Case Management Order, and submit it to the Court like any proposed Order. Or,
  2. if all parties/counsel agree on the trial date, download and fill out the appropriate Stipulation and Order Setting Case for Jury/Nonjury Trial, have all counsel sign it, and submit it to the Court. Your case will be added to that trial docket.

Case Management Conferences (CMC)

The Court conducts three general types of CMCs:

  1. an initial case management for the purpose of entering a case management order;
  2. to select a trial date (see above); and
  3. when a case needs more active management. Any party may request a CMC. The Court strongly encourages the early use of CMC especially in complex cases, multiple party litigation, or any case that might benefit from Court intervention. Unless excused by the Court in advance, all CMCs are mandatory.

Pretrial Conference

The Order Setting Case for Jury Trial contains a Pretrial Conference date. If the parties submit a completed, joint Pretrial Conference Order to the Court at least three (3) business days prior to the Pretrial Conference, then the parties are excused from the Pretrial Conference. Otherwise, appearance is required. Unless requested, the Court does not conduct Pretrial Conferences in nonjury cases. All Pretrial Conferences are held via Zoom.

Daubert/Frye and Limine Motions

All motions, including Daubert / Frye Motions and in Limine Motions, must be resolved before Pre-trial Conference. Please plan accordingly.


All continuance motions must be in writing and signed by the client/party. See Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.460; Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.545(e).

New Trial Motions

Please do not set these motions for hearing. Please send these motions to the Court with a cover letter. The Court will determine whether to grant a hearing.

Civil Trust Litigation Matters

Reassignment to the Probate Judge

Effective January 1, 2014

With the consent of the Chief Judge of this Circuit, all pre-trial matters and adversary proceedings in Civil Trust Litigation or other matters that either originated in the Probate/Guardianship division or are substantially related to Probate and Guardianship matters requiring resolution by trial, shall be reassigned to the presiding Probate/Guardianship Division Judge, with the exception of those motions that are required to be heard by the Civil Magistrate pursuant to these requirements and consistent with existing Administrative Orders.

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