Manatee County Criminal Division 3

(Letters A-K)

Requirements and Information

May 16, 2023

Heather Doyle, Manatee County Judge

Lila Mercurio, Judicial Assistant

Requirements & Information

Effective January 2023 Judge Doyle will only preside over criminal cases. All Division 3 civil matters should be scheduled with Judge Inman either on JACS or through her judicial assistant.

Zoom vs. In-person

Zoom is a platform by which people can appear by telephone or by video. More information about the platform is available on the Zoom website. Visit Judge Doyle’s Zoom page for meeting information.

Please note that those individuals appearing live with be heard prior to those appearing by Zoom.

You may use Zoom for the following court appearances:

  • Pretrial Conference,
  • Pleas and motions,
  • VOPs (for defendants who admit to violating their probation and who will receive a non-jail sentence),
  • Docket Sounding,
  • Evidentiary hearings if the parties comply with Rule 2.530 of the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration.

You may not appear by Zoom for the following court appearances:

  • Arraignments,
  • Jury Trials,
  • VOP appearances if there could be a VOP hearing and you have not secured an order from the Court allowing Zoom for the court appearance
  • If ordered to appear in person by the Court,
  • Evidentiary hearings where one party objects

Zoom is not permitted for these appearances absent a court order. Requests to appear by Zoom for these types of proceedings will be granted upon the Court’s finding of good cause and if such request is otherwise in compliance with Rule 2.530 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.

Prior to scheduling any evidentiary hearing or hearing more than the Rule’s requisite time frame, the moving party shall ensure the opposing party is agreeable to the Zoom appearance and that the request is otherwise in compliance with Rule 2.530 of the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration. A filed stipulation is not required on this issue.

If using Zoom, please adhere to the following rules in place for all Manatee County Court Judges. Failure to follow these rules may result in individuals not being let in from the Zoom wait room:

  1. All participants must have their audio and video (if applicable) working and know how to mute/unmute and turn their camera on and off before the appearance begins.
  2. If Zooming in with audio and video capability, the participant should name themselves using their true legal first and last name.
  3. When in the Zoom courtroom, the participant should remain muted with their video camera off until their case is called.
  4. When a case is called, the participant should be in a quiet place with minimal background noise. The participant should not be in a moving vehicle, or in motion in any other way.
  5. When a case is called, the participant shall then enable their microphone and unmute themselves in a timely fashion.
  6. Any documents that would normally be filed with the clerk shall be filed with the clerk in advance of the hearing. This includes, but is not limited to, plea in absentia forms, acknowledgment and waiver of rights forms, exhibits, etc. Please do not send any documents to the judicial assistant by email or hardcopy that you would normally file with the clerk had your appearance been in person. Please contact the clerk’s office for further instruction on the number of days in advance documents must be filed with the clerk for them to be “seen” by the judge electronically.
  7. Appearing remotely on Zoom carries with it the same requirements for professionalism, decorum, and civility to all participants and the court as if physically present. All participants shall be wearing appropriate attire. Business casual is acceptable. As in any courtroom, there is to be no eating, drinking, gum chewing, smoking, or engaging in any activity other than participation in the court appearance.

Pleas by Zoom

Pleading by Zoom

Please file the plea form with the clerk. Please do not email or send the plea form to the judicial assistant.

Pleas in Absentia

If pleading in absentia, please file the appropriate forms with the clerk. Please do not email or send the Plea in Absentia documents to the judicial assistant.


If the charge to which the defendant is entering a plea is one that requires fingerprints, and the defendant is unable to obtain those fingerprints prior to the plea then an additional condition of probation will be for the defendant to procure fingerprints and file them with the Clerk of Court.

General Information

Scheduling/Canceling Pleas, Motions and Hearings

Filed Motion Required

All motions must be filed prior to reserving hearing time. Failure to file a motion but noticing an issue for hearing may result in the cancellation of hearing time.

Length of Hearing and How to Schedule

Criminal hearings thirty minutes or less in length can be scheduled in Court or through the Judicial Automated Calendaring System (JACS). Hearings should not be scheduled last minute and JACS will not permit it online. All parties should be given at least two days’ notice before a hearing is set absent exceptional circumstances.

Please Note: When you schedule a plea in the JACS system, the time slots automatically default to five-minute increments. You are permitted to use the 5 minute time slot for anything from 5-30 minutes in length.
For hearings longer than 30 minutes, please call/email the judicial assistant to schedule. If you find there is insufficient hearing time available or must wait more than two weeks to obtain hearing time, please contact the judicial assistant.

Caselaw and other Legal Authority

For any hearing, the party wishing the Court to consider legal authority shall submit their authority in hard copy format to Chambers at least three days prior to the hearing. A copy of the same shall be given to the opposing counsel within the same time frame. Parties may also submit hard copies of legal authority in person at the hearing.


If an interpreter is needed, you must arrange for the interpreter. The Twelfth Judicial Circuit provides interpreters for all court events, if requested properly in advance. Please see the Court Interpreter page for further guidance.

Incarcerated Defendants

Any Motion relative to a defendant who is incarcerated should be scheduled for an Inmate Hearing if the Attorney wishes to have the defendant appear in Court. There are several Inmate Hearing dates each month. If a case is on a regular docket, as opposed to an inmate docket, and the defendant is in custody, the case will be called on the regular docket, but the defendant will not appear.

Traffic infractions (TR cases) – TR cases are covered by the Civil County Judges

If traffic infraction has not been consolidated with a criminal case, please submit All proposed Motions/Orders to the Judge assigned (Judge Inman [A-K] – Judge Steele [L-Z])

Pretrial Conferences

In Person or Zoom

Pretrial Conference Continuance Form

Criminal pretrial conferences can be continued twice without the need for defense counsel to appear, provided the defense attorney has filed the pretrial conference continuance request form prior to the scheduled pretrial conference. Forms are available under the Manatee County tab on the Criminal Division webpage.

The Pretrial Conference Continuance Form should not be sent to the judicial assistant but rather filed with the Clerk

If you have continued the case twice before, you cannot continue it a third time without filing a Stipulation to Continue which sets forth the reason for the continuance. The Court will review the stipulation and indicate whether it is granted or denied, in which case the parties may schedule a Motion to Continue for hearing.

Should you file a continuance form, and the case has been continued numerous times, at the discretion of the Court, the case may be set for trial.

The Court will accept pleas at pretrial conference. The plea can be in person or on zoom.

Docket Sounding

In Person or Zoom

Defendants must appear at docket sounding. The appearance can be by Zoom unless otherwise ordered.

No motions of any kind, 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 the case is ready for trial the attorneys shall be prepared to advise the Court as to how many days the trial will last, the number of witnesses to be called and any witness scheduling conflicts.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Court will consider a request to continue by written stipulation of the parties. The written Stipulation can only continue the case to another Docket Sounding or Pretrial Conference, it cannot continue the case to a Plea and Motion date due to issues for the Clerk’s office. Please put the reason for the requested continuance in the written Stipulation for the Court’s consideration.

If the attorney wants a case continued from a Docket Sounding to a Plea and Motion date, there is a two-step process: (1) the lawyer’s office must enter a written Stipulation to Continue to a new Pretrial Conference or Docket Sounding date AND THEN (2) the lawyer’s office must go on JACS and schedule the plea on a Plea and Motion date before the new PTC or DS date chosen. Please put the reason for the requested continuance in the written Stipulation for the Court’s consideration.


In Person or Zoom

The plea cut-off date for all cases set on a trial docket will be on the Friday before the trial period. Thereafter all pleas will be open pleas to the court unless there has been a significant change with the case.

The Defense attorney is to schedule the plea time and do a Notice of Hearing indicating the format the plea will be done (i.e., plea in absentia). Paperwork will need to be prepared as normal, notarized and fingerprints (if required) will need to be submitted and filed with the clerk prior to the plea date.

Please do not email or send Acknowledgement and Waiver of Rights forms and Pleas in Absentia to the judicial assistant. Instead, file these documents with the clerk in advance of the hearing.

Clarification/correction of the record – if there is any question regarding a plea/sentence that was entered in open court – please do not contact the Judicial Assistant as the record cannot be changed via email or telephone call. Please file a Motion and schedule on the JACs calendar OR submit a stipulation with the State Attorney’s Office and proposed Order to the Court for review.

Contact Information