Manatee County Criminal Division 4

Letters: L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

Requirements and Information

December 2022

Melissa Gould, Manatee County Judge

Lori Jakanski, Judicial Assistant

Requirements & Information

Effective January 2023 Judge Gould will only preside over criminal cases. All Division 4 civil matters should be scheduled with Judge Steele either on JACS or through her judicial assistant.

Local Rules & Standards of Professionalism

All litigants must follow the Local Rules and the Twelfth Circuit Standards of Professionalism.

Proposed Orders

All proposed orders that are submitted should be accompanied with the corresponding motion. For the most expeditious return, submit your proposed order electronically. If the corresponding motion is filed with the clerk, it should still be included when submitting a proposed order. Proposed orders may be sent by U.S. Mail or email. The judicial assistant will return signed orders via email if no envelopes are provided. The party submitting the proposed order by email will be responsible for providing copies to all parties by U.S. Mail. Submission of proposed orders via U.S. Mail or other parcel service shall include a sufficient number of copies for conforming, plus one for an original signature, as well as stamped, addressed envelopes for all recipients.

Zoom vs. In-Person Hearings

Zoom is a platform by which people can appear by telephone or by video. Visit the Zoom website for more information on that platform. Judge Gould’s Zoom information is available on her Zoom Information page.

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

If you wish to appear by Zoom, you may do so without prior authorization from the court. However, attorneys, defendants and witnesses are required to appear in person for jury trials, arraignments or if ordered to appear in person. While docket sounding is a mandatory court appearance, parties are permitted to attend virtually as explained below.

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 waiting room:

  • 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.
  • If Zooming in with audio and video capability, the participant should name themselves using their true, legal first and last name.
  • When in the Zoom courtroom, the participant should remain muted with their video camera off until their case is called.
  • 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.
  • When a case is called, the participant shall then enable their microphone and unmute themselves in a timely fashion.
  • 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 be 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.
  • 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

If a defendant is not entering a plea to regular probation, the Court will not accept a plea via Zoom or in absentia if fingerprints are required.

If a defendant is pleading by Zoom, please submit and e-file the plea form prior to the plea. If the charge to which the defendant is entering a plea is one that requires fingerprints (ex. DWLS, Battery, Violation of an Injunction, Petit Theft and DUI) 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. Should a plea via Zoom occur, the State shall, if applicable, ensure that the victim has notice of the hearing and the ability to participate in the hearing.

General Information

Scheduling, Canceling Pleas, Motions and Hearings

  • 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.
  • Criminal hearings five 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 the scheduling of the same. All parties should be given at least two days’ notice before a hearing is set absent exceptional circumstances. Attorneys are not permitted to schedule back-to-back hearings to acquire a longer block of time. If you require more than five minutes, please call/email the judicial assistant. If you are finding that there is insufficient hearing time available or have to wait more than two weeks to obtain hearing time, please contact the judicial assistant.
  • For any hearing, the party wishing the Court to consider legal authority shall submit their authority to the judicial assistant (by hand, mail, or email) 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.
  • 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 visit the Court Interpreters page for information on scheduling an interpreter.
  • Motions to suppress shall be filed and heard prior to the plea cut-off date referenced below, unless opportunity did not exist, or the defendant was not aware of the grounds for the motion. Motions to Suppress should be scheduled through the judicial assistant and lengthier motions will be specially set with a time certain. Failure to timely file the Motion may result in it not being heard.
  • 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.

Pretrial Conferences

The Court will accept pleas at pretrial conference.

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. The 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 the written approval of the assistant state attorney and the defendant. Forms are available Judge Gould’s section of the Criminal Division page and in the courtroom. 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.

Docket Sounding

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.

Cases set on the Court’s trial docket should be anticipated to proceed to trial. Please do not select a docket sounding date with the anticipation that subpoenas will not be sent out by the State.


The plea cut-off date for all cases set on a trial docket will be on Thursday 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 e-filed prior to the plea date. The Court will not accept plea forms submitted to chambers in advance of the hearing.

Contact Information