Requirements and Information

February 7, 2024

Gilbert A. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judge

Donna McCAMMOND, Judicial Assistant

Requirements & Information

Standards of Professionalism

Judge Smith expects all attorneys who appear to know and adhere to the Twelfth Circuit's Standards of Professionalism.

General Information

Contact your attorney or the Case Manager with questions regarding your dependency case. Your case is confidential, therefore, the Judicial Assistant is prohibited from providing information over the telephone.

Communication with Judge or Judicial Assistant

The Judge cannot speak to a party, attorney or witness over the telephone or anytime outside of court.

Written communication (letters or email) to the Judge must be copied and sent to all the parties/counsel. The written communication must identify all parties who received the written communication, or it will be unread by the Judge. Communication to the Court will be filed in the case file and copies furnished to counsel of record.

The Judge can speak to a party or attorney in the courtroom in the presence of all the parties or during a properly noticed hearing.

The Judicial Assistant cannot provide legal advice which includes:

  • Interpreting legal documents such as orders issued by the court, or
  • Instructing litigants on their next course of action, such as identifying which motions to file.

Email is strictly a method of communicating basic information and sending documents and is not a medium to state a position, make an argument, or attempt to persuade the court on a substantive or procedural matter. Emails to the judicial assistant should be devoid of information or statements that are unnecessary, superfluous, irrelevant, or adversarial. Arguments should be confined to letters, motions, memoranda, and legal documents attached to the email. Emails sent to the judicial assistant shall comply with all rules and requirements governing contact with the Court including ex parte communication.

The judicial assistant should not be copied with scheduling emails between attorneys and parties.

Scheduling Hearings

Motion hearing time should be scheduled by email to the Judicial Assistant or by the Court in open court; and in agreement with the parties and Court’s schedule.

Adding on cases are not permitted without advance permission of the Judge and the approval of the opposing party/parties.

Time Reserved
Hearings are limited to the time reserved in fairness to all litigants.

Parties opposing any motion will be given equal time to respond to the motion. Accordingly, the party reserving and scheduling hearing time should either:

  1. determine how much hearing time is necessary to present his/her case and then double that amount of time (to account for response time); or
  2. preferably, confer with opposing counsel and agree to the proper amount of time required. All hearing time must be cleared, in advance, with all parties to the case.
Notice of Hearing

Courtesy copies of all notices of hearings should be emailed to the Judicial Assistant. In the event a hearing is canceled, notice of canceling hearing should be emailed to the Judicial Assistant. The party scheduling or canceling a hearing is required to provide advanced written notice to all parties, unless the cancelation is announced in open court and thus documented on the court appearance record.

Courtesy Copies

Courtesy copies of the motion, response, supporting documents and case law must be provided in hard copy to the Court five (5) business days prior to the date of the hearing.


If an interpreter is necessary for a hearing or trial, it is the responsibility of counsel to submit the Interpreter Request Form.

Inmate Appearances

For inmates in Manatee County custody: Counsel for the inmate is responsible for making the appropriate arrangements with the bailiff’s office before noon the day prior, via phone at (941) 747-3011, ext. 7960; or email Judicial Security.

For inmates in custody outside of Manatee County: It is the responsibility of Counsel for the inmate to make the appropriate arrangements for availability. If inmate not represented by Counsel, it shall be the CLS attorney’s responsibility to make the appropriate arrangements.

Emergency Hearing Time

Emergency Hearing Time is always available but strict compliance with these rules is required.

  • The emergency motion must be filed with the Clerk of Court;
  • Provide a courtesy copy to the Judge by email to the Judicial Assistant.
  • Please call to notify the Judicial Assistant that the emergency motion is being sent by email. Placing a telephone call to the Judicial Assistant will allow anyone monitoring her emails to be on notice to retrieve the emergency motion.
  • The emergency motion shall contain a certification that the moving party has personally spoken to or has made diligent efforts to contact and speak with opposing counsel in an effort to resolve the disputed issue(s).
  • A cover letter to the Judge must be included with the emergency motion. The cover letter must contain the opposing party’s position to the emergency motion.
  • The cover letter must contain an estimate of time needed to complete the hearing. The parties shall discuss the time for the hearing. (If the moving party needs one (1) hour then it would be reasonable that the opposing party receives equal time.)
  • The judge will review all referenced items and decide whether to grant or deny the request for emergency hearing time.
  • All parties must agree to the hearing date and time. The unilateral scheduling of hearings is not acceptable, except in unusual circumstances.
  • Ex parte emergency motions must be notarized or include a notarized affidavit. The motion must explain why the movant needs ex parte relief, when the relief is needed, and how much time is requested. Such motions are not often granted and absent unforeseen circumstances will not be considered without all of the required information.

Appearances In Person vs. via Zoom or Telephone

Appearances via Zoom are optional for the following procedures:

  • Adoptions;
  • Detention Reviews;
  • Phase I Trials;
  • Judicial Reviews;
  • Pleas (Consents);
  • MBI (Manifest Best Interest);
  • Non-evidentiary motion hearings (less than one hour in length);
  • Shelter Reviews / Shelters;
  • SIPP hearings

In-Person attendance is required for:

  • Arraignments;
  • Advisories;
  • Evidentiary Hearings or Non-evidentiary hearings reserved for one hour or more in length;
  • Surrenders for TPR cases;
  • Phase II Trials.
Inmate appearances

In addition to the information contained in the section titled “Inmate Appearances”, inmate appearances will remain via Zoom / Jail Video. Exception: Inmates incarcerated in Manatee County are to attend Arraignments, Advisories and Phase II trials in person. The inmate’s counsel shall be responsible for making the appropriate arrangements.

When possible, any case involving the Court placing a telephone call scheduled on a crowded docket, will be moved to the end of the docket. Any request for an exception to the above shall be in the form of a written Motion.

The parties may agree to allow a witness to appear for a trial or hearing by telephone or Zoom, upon the filing of an Agreed Motion/Order; or Stipulation. The witness appearing by telephone shall have a Notary Public present who will swear in the witness prior to his/her testimony. The witness appearing via Zoom shall be on a computer/phone with video capabilities, to allow the Court to swear in the witness prior to his/her testimony.

Submitting Proposed Orders

Stipulated or Agreed to Orders are acceptable. Orders submitted to the Court should be in Word format via email to the Judicial Assistant. Include in the email that all parties have reviewed and consented to the Order.

Orders that have not been previously agreed to may also be approved by the Judge. All parties shall be provided five business days to object to the entry of the Order. Any objection shall be made to the attorney who prepared the Order. If the parties cannot agree to the wording of the Order, each shall submit Orders for the Judge to consider, in Word format via email to the Judicial Assistant.

  • Remember, all correspondence to the Judge must be copied to all parties or the correspondence will be disregarded or returned to the sender.
  • It is the obligation of the moving party and not the Judicial Assistant to ascertain proper compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to this question and other related questions can be found on the Juvenile Court Policy & Procedure page of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court website.

No. The JA can’t give you legal advice, which includes interpreting a legal document such as an order of court. You should contact your attorney or case worker as soon as possible.

No, the JA cannot. Juvenile cases are confidential in nature. If you have questions, you should contact your attorney or your case manager.

You may absolutely address the Judge in court for so long as your case is properly scheduled on the court docket and all parties have been properly noticed. You may never discuss your case with the Judge outside of the courtroom. Letters to the Judge are not read by the Judge unless all parties agree during a court hearing that the Judge may do so. If you write the Judge a letter, a copy of the letter will be provided to all parties and will not be reviewed by the Judge without the permission of all parties, as the communication may be deemed improper. It is best for your communication to the Judge be made through your attorney.

Contact Information