Honorable Frederick P. Mercurio

Circuit Court Judge

Contact Information

Judge Frederick P. Mercurio

Judicial Service

  • Circuit Court Bench, January 2013

Education & Achievements

  • JD, Stetson University College of Law, 1983
  • BS, Florida State University, 1981

Court Disclosure

Judicial Assistant
Email the Judicial Assistant for communication purposes only.
(941) 749–3625; Please do not call the judicial assistant without first reading the requirements. To inquire about the outcome of a hearing, please consult the Clerk’s website.
(941) 749-3671; (For emergencies only)
Manatee County Judicial Center
Physical Address
1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 3000, Bradenton, FL 34206
Office Hours
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed for lunch Noon-1 p.m.
Proceedings are held in Courtroom 8A
Notice to the public: The Code of Judicial Conduct governing behavior by judges forbids the Judges of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit to discuss pending cases with the public. Please do not call or email the Court expecting to speak with a Judge about any case. The Court is only allowed to consider arguments made in the courtroom and in documents properly filed by actual parties in the case as authorized by law and the Rules of Court. The Court cannot ethically read or consider any other opinions or arguments about the case. Communications that do not meet these legal requirements cannot be forwarded to the Judges.

Requirements & Information

Standards of Professionalism

Judge Mercurio expects all attorneys who appear to know and adhere to the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s Standards of Professionalism, also available on the websites of the Manatee County Bar Association and the Sarasota County Bar Association.

A. Remote Appearance

This office has returned to pre-pandemic procedures. All proceedings in front of Judge Mercurio are held in person in Courtroom 8A. Fla. R. Crim. Proc. - amended effective July 1, 2024 - permits the use of communication technology for non-evidentiary pretrial matters scheduled for 30 minutes or less upon written motion and Order absent good cause to deny such motions.  This Court permits Zoom expert witness testimony upon agreement of the parties and the submission of an agreed Order.   See the Technology Services page to request an IT Zoom presentation cart.

B. Hearing Procedures

  • All motions must be filed prior to requesting or reserving hearing time.
  • All hearings 30 minutes or less in length are to be scheduled through the JACS. Attorneys are not permitted to schedule back-to-back hearings in order to acquire a longer block of hearing time.
  • All requests for hearing time for one hour or longer must be reviewed and approved by the Judge.
  • Plea and motion dates are assigned to a specific Assistant State Attorney. The scheduling party must determine which Assistant State Attorney is assigned to a case and schedule his/her plea or motion accordingly. Please consult the judge’s monthly master calendars for assigned days before setting a case for hearing. Any hearing set on a day not assigned to the specific Assistant State Attorney will be cancelled.
  • The Court is aware it may be necessary to set pleas and motions on dates other than those designated to a specific Assistant State Attorney. However, on such occasions the scheduling party must contact the assigned Assistant State Attorney for availability to clear the date and time on JACS.
  • All hearings are limited to the time reserved. The party opposing the motion is entitled to equal time; therefore, the party reserving and scheduling the hearing must confer with opposing counsel and agree regarding the total amount of time required.
  • Once a motion is scheduled subsequent motions may not be added or cross-noticed without prior approval by opposing counsel and the Court.
  • Once a motion is scheduled another motion shall not be substituted in the event the original motion is cancelled or resolved absent prior approval by opposing counsel and the Court.
  • The scheduling attorney must submit a paper copy of the notice of hearing, the motion to be heard, and any relevant supporting documents to which the parties may refer during the hearing by hand-delivery or mail at least three days prior to the hearing. Both parties shall submit any supporting case law at least three days prior to the hearing. The Court does not accept email submission of documents absent Court approval.
  • JACS should be used to cancel hearings whenever possible as soon as the scheduling attorney is aware the need for the time no longer exists. However, the JACS will block a cancellation when it results in short notice to the parties, usually less than three days’ notice. When JACS does not permit a cancellation the scheduling party must cancel the hearing by contacting the Judicial Assistant. Counsel shall promptly e-file a Notice of Cancellation with the Clerk of Court and notice all parties. The attorney cancelling the hearing is responsible for notifying judicial security when an inmate will not be needed. If a hearing is cancelled, a defendant should not be transported.

C. Communications with the Court

Judge Mercurio does not utilize a division e-mail for electronic submissions. Paper courtesy copies of motions, hearing documents, case law and proposed orders must be hand-delivered or mailed to the judge’s office in a timely manner; for hearings, submit items at least three days prior to the court proceeding. Email the Judicial Assistant for communication purposes only. The high volume of emails received by the JA during and outside of working hours may result in a delay in response.

D. Submission of Orders

Following a hearing counsel may submit proposed orders via email only if instructed by Judge Mercurio to do so. Submission of orders and other documents shall be done by regular mail, overnight services or hand-delivery absent an emergency or unless given permission by Judge Mercurio. This office does not provide electronic copies of Orders. Attorneys who fail to provide conforming copies and envelopes must retrieve their orders via Attorney/Subscriber Access (Manatee County) or ClerkNet (Sarasota.) The offices of the Public Defender and the State Attorney should deliver and retrieve documents via Daily Rounds on the 9th floor.

ePortal Submission of Proposed Orders

Pursuant to Administrative Order 2022-1.2, judges in the Twelfth Circuit must accept submission of proposed Orders through the Florida ePortal. However, the submission of Orders through the ePortal will not result in counsel receiving orders any faster in this division. Judge Mercurio does not have access to the SmartBench queue, and all orders must be reviewed and processed by the judicial assistant before providing to the Judge.

Any ePortal submissions must include a cover letter and are limited to uncontested/stipulated Orders. All other orders will be rejected by the judicial assistant.

E. Courtesy Copies

Counsel must provide via regular mail, overnight services, or hand-delivery courtesy paper copies of all hearing documents (notices of hearing, motions, case law, and other supporting documents) at least three days prior to the hearing to allow sufficient time for judicial review.

F. Emergency & Other Urgent Matters

The judicial assistant is not authorized to offer or schedule emergency or expedited hearing time. The moving attorney is required to confer with opposing counsel in a good faith effort to resolve the issue prior to filing an emergency motion. Any emergency motion must include a certificate of good faith that states the movant has contacted opposing counsel and his/her position on the relief sought. Requests for emergency or expedited hearing time must be made by contacting the JA by phone or email and providing a copy of the contested motion. The Judge will review the motion to determine whether an expedited or emergency hearing is warranted.

Bond Hearings

Video Bond Hearings for Felony Division 3 are scheduled at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, except on trial weeks when they are scheduled at 8 a.m. Bond hearings are intended to be scheduled for 5 minutes or less. Bond hearings requiring more than 10 minutes of hearing time shall be scheduled by Defense counsel on JACS following the regular scheduling procedures. Counsel must contact the Judicial Assistant to schedule any evidentiary Arthur Hearings or pretrial detention hearings.

Motions/Orders for Release of Uncharged Defendants

Motions to release uncharged defendants must be emailed to the Court and the assigned assistant state attorney. The State will have until 4:30 p.m. of the day a motion was received to respond regarding the State’s intention to file an Information, a Notice of Case Action or no objection to a ROR Order. If the motion is received in the afternoon the State shall respond by the following business day by 12:00 noon. If the JA does not receive a response from the State Attorney by the specified deadline a hearing will be set on the next available hearing date.

G. Exhibits for Evidentiary Proceedings

In document intensive cases the Court requires the parties to confer with the Clerk of Court prior to trial and present the Clerk with an exhibit list as well as the exhibits. Additionally, the Court requires the parties to provide courtesy paper copies of the exhibit list and marked exhibits to opposing counsel, as well as the Court.

If either side is going to use an exhibit that is in a different form/format than has been prepared and submitted with discovery the Court requires an exact copy of the exhibit to be delivered to opposing counsel no less than five (5) business days before trial. Counsel shall disclose to opposing counsel where in the discovery the information contained in the newly formatted exhibit can be found.

Pre-marked exhibits

State to use numbers; Defense to use letters.

Redaction of Exhibits

If any party requests that any portion of an exhibit, i.e., recordings, cell phone records, text messages, email messages, transcripts, etc., be redacted, the request for redaction shall be made to opposing counsel no less than five (5) business days before trial. If the parties cannot stipulate to the redaction a motion must be filed and scheduled for hearing prior to trial.

H. Pretrial Procedures & Conferences

Case Management hearings are held at 8:30 a.m. on Thursdays (check monthly calendars for judicial conference/vacation schedule). Attorneys and defendants are expected to appear “in person” in the courtroom. The presence of defendants at Case Management is mandatory unless excused by the Court or Defendant has personally signed a Waiver of Appearance at case management per the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and caselaw.

The Court considers CMCs to be significant, meaningful proceedings. The Court expects the State to have provided the Defense with a Discovery Response, the Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet and plea offer with sufficient time for review prior to the CMC so that Defense counsel may review the Discovery, confer with the client and convey the plea offer.

If the parties stipulate to a trial date they must use the approved Stipulation for Trial Date (see Preferred Division Forms section). Stipulation forms are also available in the courtroom. The stipulation must be completely filled out and contain the defendant’s signature. If the parties cannot agree on a trial date, the Court will select one. Stipulations for trial may be completed and submitted to the Court in advance of Case Management; however, they must be received by the Court three days prior to Case Management to allow time for the court’s review. If the stipulation is approved prior to Case Management neither the attorney nor the defendant need to appear.

Once a trial date is stipulated to and/or set by the Court - absent an unforeseen emergency - the Court will rarely grant a continuance. The Court expects attorneys to comply with all deadlines contained on the Trial Stipulation and Order.

At the Case Management hearing defendants may enter pleas and are encouraged to do so. If the plea/sentencing is lengthy (greater than 10 minutes) or involves an interpreter, the Court prefers the matter be set on the assigned assistant state attorney’s regular hearing day.

The Court will consider setting cases for Major Trial Case Management that are likely to involve complicated legal or case management issues, that may require extensive judicial management to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, or promote judicial efficiency. Attorneys are encouraged to suggest cases for consideration. The Court will set these conferences in cases it deems appropriate.

I. Setting Case for Trial

Docket Sounding

Docket Sounding is held two weeks before the trial period. Defendants’ in person appearance at docket sounding is mandatory unless excused by the Court. No motions of any kind (oral or written), including motions to continue, will be heard at docket sounding. The purpose of docket sounding is to enter a plea or announce ready for trial. If a case is ready for trial the attorneys shall be prepared to advise the Court as to how many days the trial will last (including jury selection), whether speedy trial is an issue, and any potential calendar conflicts. Counsel must comply with trial deadlines and have motions heard prior to trial. Contact the JA if hearing time is unavailable on JACS.


Counsel are encouraged to discuss and to agree on pleas that may be entered by a defendant. However, ultimate responsibility for sentence determination rests with the trial judge. Negotiated pleas are subject to the court’s approval.

Plea Cut-Off Date

The negotiated plea cut-off date for all cases on a trial docket is the Friday of the docket sounding week – usually at the trial scheduling date and time – unless otherwise stated. Thereafter all pleas will be open pleas and require a sentencing hearing and pre-sentence investigation report (if requested and if applicable) unless the charge(s) are amended in some significant manner, or the Court has extended the negotiated plea cut-off date due to extenuating circumstances.

Score Sheets

Score sheets must be completed in full (or to the extent possible on an open plea) so that, at most, only the judge’s signature will be required.

Pleas to and/or Requests for Community Control

In all cases in which the defendant has negotiated a Community Control sentence or will be seeking Community Control as a sanction from the Court the defendant and his/her attorney shall read, review, and sign the Community Control Disclosure Form (see Preferred Division Forms) and file it with the Clerk along with the Acknowledgment and Waiver of Rights form.

Trial Scheduling

In most cases trial scheduling for all cases on the trial docket will take place on the Friday of docket sounding week at a time designated by the judge. Defendants may, but are not required, to attend trial scheduling. The purpose of trial scheduling is to set the trial order. Attorneys are encouraged (but not required) to attend. No motions of any kind (oral or written), including motions to continue, will be heard at trial scheduling.

If attorneys do not appear at trial scheduling the Court will conclude there is no change in status of the case announced at docket sounding and the trial can be set at any time during the two-week trial period.

Trial periods are set for two (2) weeks. Although a trial order will be published counsel shall be prepared to go to trial the first day of the trial period and remain available for the entire two-week trial term. The final trial docket will be distributed and posted on the website as soon as practicable following trial scheduling.

Two judges are generally available for the trial period. At 8:30 a.m. on the first day of the trial period all cases remaining on the trial docket are directed to report in front of Judge Mercurio. Unless a case is given a specific date and time certain for commencement of trial, all cases must be ready for trial on the first day of the trial period.

As a courtesy to jurors and to avoid unnecessary delays, motions will not be heard during the trial period. Pleas will not be taken Monday morning unless the case is called up for trial. Exceptions may be made under certain circumstances, such as the jury panel not being ready.

Jury Instructions

Counsel shall confer and proposed jury instructions shall be submitted to the Court via email to the Judicial Assistant by 12:00 noon on the first day of trial.

In-Custody Defendants Set for Trial: Defense Counsel must contact the Port Manatee Jail prior to the start of trial and provide clothes for inmates at the jail. Judicial Security will not accept clothes and dress defendants at the Judicial Center the morning of trial.

J. Preferred Division Forms

To access forms, visit the Criminal Division page.

K. Other Division Procedures

Court Interpreters

It is counsel’s responsibility to notify the Court Interpreters Office of the need for a foreign language interpreter for court proceedings. Due to the limited number of on-site and contractual court interpreters, attorneys must request and schedule interpreter services at least five business days in advance. See the Court Interpreters page.

Inmate Transport

Defense Counsel or the scheduling attorney is responsible for notifying Judicial Security if a Defendant or an in-custody witness needs to be transported from the jail to a court proceeding and for cancelling the request if the hearing or trial is cancelled. Please review the Judicial Security Section’s Inmate Transport Requests information sheet, which clarifies who is responsible for requesting inmates from the Manatee County Central Jail for court appearances.

Motions to Continue

Oral motions to continue are not permitted at any time. Once a trial date is stipulated to and/or set by the Court, absent an unforeseen circumstance or emergency, the Court will rarely grant a continuance.

The Court strictly adheres to the mandates established by the United States Supreme Court, Florida Supreme Court, Fla.R.Jud.Admin.2.545(e) and Fla.R.Crim.P.3.190(f). All motions for continuance shall be in writing and signed by the attorney as well as the party (the Defendant, if a defense motion) unless good cause is shown. All requests for continuance shall include: the grounds/reasons for the requested continuance, a Certificate of Good Faith; be signed by the party (the Defendant), indicate whether the Defendant is in local or DOC custody, the date the information/indictment was filed, the charge, the number of previous continuances, waiver of speedy trial, who requested the previous continuance and all efforts made to move the case and resolve discovery issues.

A motion to continue shall be timely filed and be calendared through JACS. If there is no time available, the attorney shall contact the Judicial Assistant. If the attorney fails to schedule a hearing the pending motion for continuance shall be deemed waived. If there is an agreement by all parties to a continuance, a motion must still be filed. Stipulations to continue will not be considered without a filed motion to continue. The Court is ultimately responsible for granting or denying a continuance even if the parties stipulate. No witnesses or defendant(s) shall be excused until such time as the Court rules on a motion/stipulation for continuance.

Motions to Modify or Terminate Community Control or Probation

All motions to terminate or modify community control or probation must be filed with the Clerk of Court with a copy provided to the judicial assistant. Contested motions will be set with Court approval on scheduled VOP days prior to VOP hearings unless other hearing time is approved by the Court. If neither the State or DOC object to a motion to modify or terminate supervision the judge may consider the motion without a hearing. In the event that either DOC or the State object the Court will enter an order or a hearing may be set that requires a mandatory court appearance by the State, Defendant and supervising officer. Parties are not automatically entitled to a hearing on a motion to modify or terminate supervision and shall not set a hearing without prior court approval.

VOP/VOCC Related Proceedings

Violation of supervision hearings are generally held on a Monday once a month at 9:30 a.m. Pleas will be heard on this day, but VOP pleas can also be scheduled using JACS. Some contested VOP hearings will be held in the afternoon. Subpoenas should be issued accordingly.

Early Termination of Supervision

The Court will presume that early termination is possible in the express absence of no early termination being an expressly negotiated term agreed to by the parties at the time of the plea and sentencing.

Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration, Arrest of Judgment, New Trial, and/or Motion to Withdraw Plea

All Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration, Arrest of Judgment, New Trial and/or Motion to Withdraw Plea must be filed with the Clerk of Court and a copy must be simultaneously provided to the judge’s office. Do not set for hearing on JACS. After review, the judge will determine if a written response or hearing is required.


Parties shall confer and have a proposed restitution Order/Judgment prepared for the Court. It should include, but not be limited to, the amount, how payments are to be made, i.e. monthly payment, as a condition of probation, or through the Manatee County Clerk of Court Department of Financial Recovery, and include a minimum monthly payment as well as when the payment is to begin.

Sentencing Hearings

If a PSI has been ordered the Court will address the State and Defense first to inquire if there are any disputes as to the factual accuracy of the report. Defense counsel shall provide their client with a copy of the report before the hearing. If there are objections the Court will resolve them; otherwise, the Court will conclude that everything in the report is accurate.

The Court will request the score sheet and inquire if there are any objections. Once again, Defense counsel shall have reviewed the score sheet with their client before the sentencing hearing. If there is an objection the Court will resolve it. If no objection, the Court will ask the State the sentence they are seeking, then the defense will be asked the same question. After that inquiry, the State will present any testimony or evidence they want the Court to consider. The Defense will then present any testimony or evidence they want the Court to consider, including the defendant’s allocution, if they so desire. The State will be allowed a brief rebuttal argument.

Departure Requests

Requests for a downward departure from the criminal punishment code scoresheet presumptive sentence shall be in writing stating the legal authority for the proposed departure, i.e. the rule or statute, as well as supporting case authority and a brief factual basis to support the departure request. Departure requests shall be noticed five days before the hearing. It is, however, acceptable to file at the time of sentencing if the State is previously aware of the request and eliminates the need to file a motion to continue to secure witnesses to rebut any facts necessary to support the departure.

The State is free to file a written response to the Defense submission but is not required to. They are, however, required to submit case law to the Court and opposing counsel at least three (3) days before the hearing in conformance with the court’s general requirements.

The purpose of the Departure requirement is to ensure all parties have notice and an opportunity to prepare for the hearing. If the request is a run of the mill departure, such as a request for drug offender probation pursuant to Florida Statute 948.20, the Court will not require strict compliance with this rule.