Requirements and Information

December 2023

Bradley Ellis, Circuit Court Magistrate

Donna Martin, Magistrate Assistant

Requirements & Information

As of June 21, 2021, Chief Justice Canady of the Florida Supreme Court removed all requirements of social distancing and mandatory face coverings in the courts. To promote efficiency, convenience, and cost-effective resolution of cases, and consistent with the practices of the Sarasota Circuit Civil Judges, Magistrate Ellis will continue to hear all routine scheduled motions via Zoom. Please read the section entitled, “Remote Hearings via Zoom.”

Please read if you do not have an attorney

The Magistrate must apply the same rules to all parties, regardless of whether you have an attorney. The Magistrate may not talk to you about your case outside of the courtroom, so please do not call to speak with the Magistrate. The Magistrate Assistant may not “give the Magistrate a message.”

The Magistrate Assistant may help you schedule a hearing. The Magistrate Assistant may not help you with your case or send information to the other party or attorney for you. Please do not ask the Magistrate Assistant for the outcome of a hearing or to verify whether a Recommended Order has been issued. You may review the Sarasota Clerk’s website for details about your case. Please remember that whenever you file something with the Clerk, or provide the Magistrate a copy, you must send a copy to all attorneys and/or other parties at the same time.

Standards of Professionalism

All attorneys must also adhere to the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Standards of Professionalism, which are also available on the Sarasota County Bar Association website.

Motions to be Scheduled with the Magistrate

Please Note: Only 1 motion should be scheduled in a 15 minute time slot. Multiple motions are only heard in 30 minute time slots or more. Should you need more time in a 15 minute morning slot, you must contact the Magistrate’s Assistant, Donna to schedule.

Per the requirements of the Sarasota County circuit civil judges, the following motions are to be scheduled before the Magistrate unless an Objection to Referral to the Magistrate has been filed.

Motions Directed to the Pleadings
Including adding/dropping parties, motions to amend, to dismiss, for default, to intervene, to dismiss and/or for more definite statement, to strike, to quash service, and any other motions concerning the pleadings or service that are not listed.
Discovery Motion
Motions to compel, for contempt of discovery orders, to extend time, objections to interrogatories, requests for production, motions for protective orders, to quash subpoenas, for discovery sanctions, motions relating to compulsory medical examinations, and any other discovery-related motions not listed.
Miscellaneous Motions
Motions to abate, to compel arbitration, to compel mediation, to discharge lis pendens, to sever or consolidate, to transfer venue, to vacate or set aside defaults, to establish entitlement to attorneys’ fees, and motions to withdraw as counsel. The Magistrate may also hear summary judgment motions and other motions upon stipulation of the parties. Magistrate Ellis will conduct Marchman/Baker Act hearings on Thursdays.

Motions Not Heard by the Magistrate

The Magistrate does not conduct case management conferences, pretrial conferences, or docket soundings, and does not hear motions seeking to vacate orders or final judgments, motions relating to trial matters, such as continuances, motions in limine, motions to strike witnesses or exhibits, and motions for writs of possession. While he hears Motion for Summary Judgments, he does not hear Motion for Summary Judgments pertaining to Foreclosures.  These are set before the Judge. 

If you are unsure whether the Magistrate may hear a specific motion, please contact the Magistrate Assistant before scheduling your motion.

Remote Hearings via Zoom

As of June 21, 2021, Chief Justice Canady of the Florida Supreme Court removed all requirements of social distancing and mandatory face coverings in the courts. To promote efficiency, convenience, and cost-effective resolution of cases, Magistrate Ellis will continue to hear all routine scheduled motions via Zoom, unless the parties have specifically requested an in-person hearing. Please read “In-Person Hearings” below.

Magistrate Ellis “hosts” the Zoom video/telephone conference so there is no need to set up your own Zoom meeting. Please visit the Public Court Hearings page for Zoom log on credentials and procedures, including Magistrate Ellis’ requirements for noticing a Zoom hearing and Zoom etiquette. Once connected to the “Court Hearings on Zoom” page, scroll down the page to Magistrate Ellis' name and click on the blue “Meeting Information” box to access his Zoom requirements and daily Zoom hearing credentials.

Please remember the remote Zoom courtroom is still a public courtroom. Unless you are unable, the Court expects you to attend the remote hearing with your camera on and that you conduct yourself professionally. Any witness testifying at an evidentiary Zoom hearing must appear on camera and must present a valid form of identification at the hearing.

In-Person Hearings

If you believe you need an in-person hearing due to the complexity or length of your matter, or the matter is evidentiary in nature, of more than one hour’s duration, and you wish to schedule an in-person hearing, please contact the Magistrate Assistant to request an in-person hearing. The Magistrate Assistant will ask for details about the matter, assist in scheduling it, and direct the matter be noticed as an in-person hearing.

The court does not presently have the available technology to conduct “hybrid” Zoom hearings in which some parties, witnesses, or attorneys appear remotely, and some appear in person. When this technology becomes available, the Magistrate will update his requirements accordingly.

Scheduling Hearings

You must schedule hearings of one hour or less in duration using the Judicial Automated Calendaring System (JACS). Morning hearing time slots are 15 minutes in length. Afternoon hearing time slots are 30 minutes in length. Please contact the Magistrate Assistant before scheduling in consecutive time slots. Please contact the Magistrate’s Assistant for assistance in scheduling hearings requiring more than one hour.

Pro se parties may request hearing times for motions by calling or emailing the Magistrate’s Assistant.

Order of Referral

Pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.490, Magistrate Ellis hears matters referred to him by Circuit Judges upon the consent of the parties. At the time of scheduling your hearing, you must indicate whether the Court has entered an Order of Referral. The link for the form Order of Referral appears in the General Information above. The attorney or party scheduling the hearing is responsible to provide the Order of Referral to the assigned Circuit Court Judge (i.e., Civil or Probate) to be signed and filed in the case docket prior to the hearing.

Noticing Hearings

Document Identification Number [DIN]

The Clerk identifies each document on the progress docket with a unique, sequential Document Identification Number [DIN]. Please identify the motions/matters being heard by noting these DIN numbers on your Notice of Hearing.

Zoom Credentials

Notices of Zoom hearings must include the correct Zoom meeting ID number, password, and audio only access number. The daily Zoom meeting box contains the identifier “All Hearings” and the “Start Time” with a link to “Get Credentials.” Do not put the “Start Time” on your Notice; put the actual scheduled hearing time on the Notice.

Courtesy Copies

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the Magistrate cancelling your hearing.

Regular Hearing Paperwork

Please provide all hearing paperwork to the dedicated email account at least seven days prior to your scheduled hearing. For voluminous submissions, the Magistrate appreciates you providing the materials in a bookmarked or searchable file. The hearing paperwork includes Notice of Hearing, motion(s) being heard, relevant pleadings (if a pleading motion), discovery requests and answers (if a discovery motion), memoranda of law (if applicable), and any case law you intend to rely on at the hearing.

Please do not send links, dropbox links, or zip files. They are not accepted.

Evidentiary Hearing Exhibits

Please provide electronic copies of your exhibits, properly marked and with an index, at least seven days in advance of the hearing to the dedicated email account. The Magistrate may also require the submission of hard copies, but the Magistrate Assistant will advise of when and where to send the hard copies.

Cross Noticing

Once a motion is scheduled, subsequent motions may not be added or cross noticed without prior approval of the original scheduling attorney and the magistrate's office. If your motion is permitted to be heard, you must comply with all requirements.

Cancelling Hearings

Access to JACS closes 7 days prior to the hearing date. Prior to that cutoff date, you may cancel a hearing via JACS and must file a Notice of Cancellation in the court file. To cancel a hearing after the cutoff date, the scheduling party/attorney must email a Notice of Cancellation to the Magistrate Assistant and file a copy in the court file. The scheduling party/attorney must also immediately send notice to all parties of the cancellation. Do not forget to notify court reporters of the cancellation.

Emergency Hearings

True emergencies are rare. The Magistrate has no set criteria for emergency hearings. Any motion requesting emergency hearing time must explain the emergency, the anticipated time needed, and where appropriate, whether good faith efforts were made to resolve the matter without Court intervention. The attorney or party filing the motion must email a copy to the Magistrate Assistant, and the Magistrate will determine how to handle the request.

Recommended Orders

The Magistrate typically prepares his own Recommended Orders; however, at the conclusion of a hearing, he may request one of the attorneys to prepare a Recommended Order. If the Magistrate requests the attorney prepare a Recommended Order, same should be submitted through the portal for review and consideration by the Magistrate.  The Recommended Order should list if parties waive exceptions or not.

Exceptions to Recommended Orders

Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.490(i) provides, “The parties may file exceptions to the report within 10 days after it is served. Any party may file cross-exceptions within 5 days of the service of the exceptions.” If a party files exceptions or cross-exceptions, the party shall file the original with the Clerk and provide copies to the Magistrate and assigned Judge. The Judge then issues an Order directing that, within a designated time, the excepting party shall file a transcript of the hearing before the Magistrate and set a hearing on the exceptions. Failure to adhere to the Judge’s Order may result in the Judge striking the party’s exceptions and adopting the Recommended Order without further hearing.

If no exceptions are filed, the Magistrate Assistant will prepare and forward an Order to the assigned Judge adopting the Recommended Order that was filed and previously served on the parties.

Contact Information