Circuit Felony Division I

Requirements and Information

February 9, 2024

Matt Whyte, Circuit Judge

Kelly Zoellner, Judicial Assistant

Requirements & Information

Standards of Professionalism

The circuit’s Standards of Professionalism are available on the Court’s website under the "Attorney” section on the circuit's website. The Court expects all attorneys who appear to know and adhere to these requirements.

Court Calendar

Find monthly court calendars for Criminal Division I on the circuit's “Divisions” webpage. Calendars are subject to change. Please check back regularly for possible amended calendars.

Inmate Transport

The scheduling attorney is responsible for notifying Judicial Security if an inmate needs to be transported from the jail for a hearing no later than 3 p.m. the day prior to the hearing. Contact Judicial Security to make arrangements.

If a defendant’s jail status changes it will be the responsibility of the attorney to notify Judicial Security.

Dressing Inmates for Trial

The Sheriff’s office has a detailed procedure it uses to accept clothes for an inmate for trial. The Sheriff’s office has advised that there is a significant security issue with unrestricted turnover of clothes and for that reason the Sheriff’s office adopted its procedure. This procedure includes the attorney — not an assistant or family member of a jail inmate — taking the clothes to the jail. The jail is not attached to the Courthouse and is not near the Courthouse. There will not be time for an attorney to comply with the procedure the morning of trial. Please understand, under no circumstance may you bring clothes to the Courthouse to have a jail inmate dressed for trial. The attorney is responsible for knowing, and abiding by, the Sheriff’s procedure. You may contact Judicial Security to obtain all the specifics. Please do not ask the Court to order the courtroom deputies to dress an inmate for trial where the attorney failed to follow the Sheriff’s procedure.


A staff Spanish interpreter is assigned to automatically be present at first appearances and felony arraignments. If you require an interpreter for any other court event, you must schedule one. It is not up to the presiding judge, judicial assistant, or trial clerk to schedule the interpreter. If you are not represented by an attorney you must request the interpreter yourself. You must make your interpreter request online using the Interpreter Request Form. Requests should be made at least 5 days before your scheduled court event. If you do not have access to a computer, please call 941-749-3659 for assistance. Trial dates and most hearing dates are given to you weeks in advance, so please make your interpreter request early. If your court event is cancelled or continued or you no longer need an interpreter that you scheduled, please call the interpreting office at 941-749-3659 and leave a message. Do not call the judicial assistant. If you have an emergency hearing or last-minute plea, you must call Court Administration’s interpreting department at (941) 749-3600, ext. 7100 to request an interpreter.

Court Hearings

Scheduling (Unless otherwise ordered by the Court)

  • A motion must be filed prior to reserving hearing time. The scheduling party must confer with opposing counsel and agree regarding the total time required. Any hearings scheduled without conferring with opposing counsel may be cancelled without notice.
  • “Piggybacking” or cross-notice of motions or substitute motions once a motion is scheduled via JACS or through the Judicial Assistant is not permitted absent the consent of all parties and the Court.
  • Add on cases/hearings: Any party wishing to add a case or hearing to the docket, at a time when JACS is closed, shall contact the Judicial Assistant no later than 10 a.m. the day prior to the scheduled hearing for approval. For example, to place an additional case on the Tuesday docket the requesting party shall contact the Judicial Assistant no later than 10 a.m. on Monday. The requesting party must have the approval of opposing counsel prior to contacting the Judicial Assistant. Do not contact the Clerk's office to add-on cases. If approved the Court will contact the Clerk. (Hint: the later the request the less likely it will be accommodated.)
  • Cancellation: Please cancel hearing time thru JACS as soon as you become aware the need for the time no longer exists. If unable to cancel the hearing through JACS, please contact the Judicial Assistant so she can make the time available for other cases. The attorney canceling the hearing shall be responsible for notifying the bailiff's office that an inmate will not be needed. Attorneys may not cancel hearings set by the Court without approval of the Court.
  • Single Defendant/Multiple Cases: When scheduling a plea or hearing on a single defendant with multiple cases, all case numbers are required. The lowest case number shall be placed on JACS in the box labeled “Case number: _____ CF _____” to reserve the necessary time. All additional case numbers shall be placed on JACS in the section labeled “Notes: _____”. If the cases are consecutive they may be denoted by a hyphen, i.e. 2005 CF 0001-0010. The written notice sent to the assistant state attorney assigned to those cases and to the Court must include all case numbers.
  • Multiple Defendants/Single Motion: When scheduling a hearing on the same motion referencing multiple Defendants, with several attorneys or even a single attorney, only one defendant's case number shall be placed on JACS in the box labeled “Case number _____ CF _____” to reserve the time. All additional Defendants' case numbers must be placed on the JACS in the section labeled “Notes: _____”. All parties using the reserved time shall send a written notice to the assistant state attorney and the Court.

Method of Scheduling

Please use the JACS to set all pleas and hearings with a duration of 30 minutes or less. It is recommended that 5-minute slots be used for negotiated pleas, motions to compel, and any other simple motions that will take 5 minutes or less to be heard. Pleas requiring the use of an interpreter should be scheduled in a 15-minute slot. Please do not schedule back-to-back time; i.e. 15-minute slots, to obtain a 30-minute hearing.

The scheduling party shall serve Notice of Hearing a reasonable time in advance of hearing and shall indicate the duration/amount of time reserved. Hearings exceeding 30 minutes must be scheduled through the Judicial Assistant.

Pleas and Motions

All pleas and motions shall be set on those days designated for pleas and motions.

Pleas and motions 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 or her plea or motion accordingly. Please consult the online calendar before setting a case for hearing.

The Court knows it may be necessary to set pleas and motions for dates other than those designated to a specific assistant state attorney or when there is no time available in JACS. In this situation, the scheduling party must:

  1. Contact the Judicial Assistant with the: case number; name of the assistant state attorney; reason it cannot be placed on a designated date; and time needed. The Judicial Assistant will then provide alternate dates and times;
  2. Contact the assistant state attorney to clear the date and time; and
  3. Re-contact the Judicial Assistant to confirm the date and time agreed upon. The Judicial Assistant will not hold the potential dates and times. If no confirmation is made promptly, the dates and times may be lost.

Remand After Sentencing Hearings

Defendants pleading to incarceration will be remanded into custody at the time of their plea unless otherwise agreed to by the Court.

Telephone Apperances

Telephone appearances will be permitted upon written request and only on non-evidentiary hearings of less than 15 minutes unless approved by the Court. The telephoning party must make the written request at least five days prior to the hearing. The telephoning party will call the judge’s office prior to the hearing and remain on hold until the Court is ready to proceed. Witnesses appearing by phone must have a Notary Public available on their end to swear the witness in for testimony, unless the parties have stipulated in advance that the Court may swear the witnesses over the telephone.

Video Teleconferencing

Scheduling party must submit a Video Conferencing Request Form and submit a Request/Order Authorizing the Use of Video Teleconferencing. Witnesses appearing by video teleconferencing means must have a Notary Public available on their end to swear them in for testimony, unless the parties have stipulated in advance that the Court may swear the witnesses via the teleconferencing means.

Web-Based Video Conferencing

The Court has the capability to hold Zoom web-based video conferencing for hearings: The parties must make a written request to the Court and explain the reason, length of time and who will be participating in the hearing. If the hearing involves a motion, the party must file the motion 10 days before requesting a hearing by Zoom and provide the Court with a copy of the motion. If the hearing is a non-evidentiary hearing, the length of time of the hearing shall not exceed 30 minutes with both sides receiving equal time. If the hearing is a plea, the Court will follow the procedures set forth in Judge Diana Moreland’s memorandum dated May 13, 2020. This memo was sent to the Public Defender, State Attorney, Office of Regional Counsel and FACDL. For the Court to hold an evidentiary hearing on Zoom, the parties must stipulate to the evidence being submitted to the Court and the manner and number of witnesses being called. Witnesses appearing by Zoom, must have a notary public available on their end to swear them in for testimony, unless the parties have stipulated in advance that the Court may swear in the witnesses via Zoom.

Courtesy Copies

The scheduling attorney must furnish the Court (via email, mail or hand delivery) and opposing counsel with copies of: (1) the notice of hearing; (2) the motion(s); and (3) all pertinent portions of any documentation or pleadings referenced in the motion and any supporting case law, at least three (3) days prior to the hearing.

Specific Motions


The Court strictly applies Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.545(e) and Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190(f) concerning continuances. Unless good cause shown, all motions for continuance must be in writing, signed by the requesting party, contain a Certificate of Good Faith, and advise whether the Defendant is in custody, the date the information/indictment was filed, the charges, the number of previous continuances and who requested them, whether speedy trial has been waived, and all efforts made to move the case, and resolve discovery issues. The Court strongly encourages the use of discovery enforcement motions to facilitate the movement of cases towards resolution, including but not limited to: rules to show cause, motions to compel; motions for statements of particulars, etc. Stipulations for continuance shall contain the same information as a motion for continuance and will be reviewed by the court on a case-by-case basis.

Bond Hearings

Most bond hearings are conducted by video to the jail. Video bond hearings are conducted every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and scheduled for five (5) minutes. Any other hearing set in this time slot will be cancelled. If either party wishes to schedule a bond hearing to last more than five (5) minutes, please use the procedures described in “SCHEDULING” section.

Rehearing, Reconsideration, Arrest of Judgment, or New Trial

All Motions for Rehearing, Reconsideration, Arrest of Judgment, or New Trial must be filed with the Clerk and a copy submitted directly to the judge with a cover letter, via mail or hand delivery. Do not set these motions for hearing. After review the Court will determine if a hearing is required.

Release of Uncharged Defendants

Defense counsel will email a copy of a motion for release of uncharged defendant to the Judicial Assistant with copy to all parties at the time the motion is filed. Defense shall obtain hearing time from the judicial assistant for the next scheduled video bond hearing or within 72 hours at the latest and shall prepare the Notice of Hearing.


Emergency motions shall be filed with the Clerk and immediately emailed to the Court’s JA with copy to the all parties, along with an estimate of the amount of hearing time needed. Emergencies are rare. The Court will decide whether to handle the matter as an emergency.

Court Proceedings

Case Management

The Court conducts case managements every Wednesday at 9 a.m. except during the first trial week. The Court expects the parties to be able to discuss the case, status of discovery, and any matters unique to the case. Attorneys shall have their calendars available. The Court believes effective case management increases judicial efficiency, reduces delay, and improves the quality of criminal justice administration. Case management is not a pretrial conference under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.180. The Court concludes there is good cause for the personal presence of defendants. Thus, the presence of defendants at Case Management is mandatory, unless excused by the Court. The State and defense must comply with Circuit Criminal Administrative Order 2009-1 which outlines the procedures for Case Management hearings, including the timely conveyance by the State of a sentence recommendation to the defense. Additional notes concerning case management:

  • The parties may stipulate to a trial date by using the approved Stipulation for Trial Date located in the courtroom and on the Court’s website. The form must be completely filled out and contain the defendant’s signature. Unless the parties have heard from the Court on the stipulation, counsel and the defendant must still appear. The assistant state attorney has no authority to excuse a defendant or counsel from case management, so please do not ask.
  • Defendants may enter pleas at case management.
  • The Court will consider setting additional case management conferences in those cases that likely will involve complicated legal or case management issues, to expedite cases, or to promote judicial efficiency.

Docket Sounding

Generally, two weeks prior to trial, the Court will conduct a docket sounding. The purpose of docket sounding is to enter a plea or announce ready for trial. Defendants must appear personally at docket sounding. The Court anticipates all discovery will be completed prior to docket sounding. The Court also anticipates that all motions (such as suppression, Daubert, Williams rule, in limine, etc.) will have been filed and heard prior to Docket Sounding. If counsel needs to have a motion heard and has been unable to obtain hearing time using the JACS, please contact the Judicial Assistant well prior to docket sounding.

Trial Scheduling

Trial periods are normally set for two (2) weeks each. All counsel with trials set for a trial period shall be prepared to go to trial the first day of the first week of the period and remain available for the entire two (2) weeks.

Contact Information