CIRCUIT CIVIL COURT

Florida Circuit Civil Courts have jurisdiction in all civil actions exceeding $30,000 and also hear appeals from the County Courts. The 12th Circuit Civil Division has four Circuit Judges in Sarasota County, two Circuit Judges in Manatee County, and two Circuit Judges in DeSoto County. 

COUNTY CIVIL COURT

Florida County Courts have jurisdiction in civil actions which do not exceed $30,000, small claims (i.e., civil actions under $8,000) and most landlord / tenant actions. The County Civil Division has five County Judges in Sarasota County, four County Judges in Manatee County, and one County Judge in DeSoto County.

Register for Document Subscription Service!


Circuit Civil Division

Judge Don T. Hall

 

County Civil Division

Judge Danielle Brewer

 

Zoom Hearings

The Civil division will be handling all matters but jury trials via Zoom until further notice as the circuit progresses through the phases of reopening. For Zoom procedures and guidelines, please see the individual judge’s Zoom page found on the circuit's Public Court Hearings page.  Please also refer to each judge’s preferences/requirements page for specific instructions for setting and conducting a hearing.

Residential Foreclosure Trials

Residential Foreclosure Trials have been suspended.  Please refer to the latest Administrative Order for updates regarding the duration and details of the moratorium.  If a residential mortgage foreclosure case has a trial date that is not within the moratorium, it remains scheduled.

Civil Jury Trial Suspension

The pandemic will prevent us from conducting civil jury trials in 2020. Chief Judge Bonner has explained the reasoning behind this difficult decision in her message to the 12th Circuit, which is posted on the circuit's home page.

There will be a backlog of cases to be tried by jury in 2021 and we cannot predict whether future events will hinder our ability to host large groups of jurors in close proximity to each other in the courthouse. The constitutional right to a jury trial is fundamental and will always be upheld by the Court.  However, it is important during this time of delay to consider alternative means of resolution. The civil judges encourage parties to set a status conference in your case to discuss how to move forward with as little delay as possible.

Court Alternatives to Jury Trial

Non-jury trial: requires waiver of jury trial by both parties, but the Court will be able to try the case earlier than jury trials. Due to the process of reopening the courthouse for in-person activities in phases with the Civil Division at the tail end of that phase-in schedule, these are likely to be via Zoom for the remainder of 2020.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Options

***These procedures occur outside the courthouse and may be conducted in person, with the agreement of the participants and as long as not in violation of any order prohibiting gatherings in the local jurisdiction.***

  1. Voluntary trial resolution hearing – Section 44.104, Fla. Stat.: Both sides agree to a member of the bar, who has been a member of the bar for 5 years and meets the training requirements of 44.106, serving as a “voluntary trial judge.” The court will appoint the voluntary trial judge from the list below. Compensation for the voluntary trial judge shared by the parties and determined by their agreement. The voluntary trial judge is bound by the rules of evidence and may render a final decision on any issue the parties bring. A party may enforce the final decision made at this hearing by filing a petition for final judgment in circuit court.
    1. Florida Statute 44.104
    2. Those serving as arbitrators or mediators meet the requirements of §44.106. See arbitrator or mediator lists for qualified candidates.
  2. Voluntary Binding Arbitration – Section 44.104, Fla. Stat.: Both sides agree to binding arbitration. A single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators renders final decision reached by the majority of the panel. This option is generally beneficial in larger, more complex cases. The arbitrators are bound by the rules of evidence. The parties compensate the arbitrators according to their agreement.
    1. Florida Statute 44.104
    2. List of qualified arbitrators for the 12th Judicial Circuit
  3. Non-binding Arbitration – Section 44.103, Fla. Stat.: the Court may refer contested civil cases to nonbinding arbitration, if the case meets the following criteria as required by AO2020-18.1
    1. The jury trial has been delayed due to COVID-19
    2. The case is likely to resolve as a result of non-binding arbitration
    3. The imposition of non-binding arbitration does not result in undue financial hardship on the parties.

    The arbitrators are compensated by the parties, but the arbitrator’s fee may not exceed $1500 per the statute. The hearing is conducted informally and matters are presented to the arbitrators primarily through statements are arguments from counsel. The arbitration decision is then presented to the parties in writing. Any party unsatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision may request a trial de novo, and the judge will not be made aware of the arbitrator’s decision. The statute provides a procedure for recouping attorney’s fees for this process in certain circumstances. If you would like to participate in non-binding arbitration, but the other side will not agree, you are encouraged to file a motion and bring the matter before the Court for determination.

    1. Florida Statute 44.103
    2. List of qualified arbitrators for the 12th Judicial Circuit
    3. Order Referring Case to Court-Ordered Nonbinding Arbitration During COVID-19
    4. Order Appointing Arbitrator in Court-Ordered Nonbinding Arbitration
  4. Mediation: Section 44.102, Fla. Stat.: the Court may order parties to mediate and share the cost of compensating the mediator in certain cases. Mediation is a vital part of the civil system of justice and is routinely ordered in most civil cases set for trial unless there is good cause not to order mediation.
    1. Florida Courts' Alternative Dispute Resolution webpage
    2. "Mediation Myths and Urban Legends," The Florida Bar
    3. Florida Statute 44.102
    4. Florida State Courts Dispute Resolution Center's Mediator Search

Circuit Civil Division B

Judge Charles Sniffen

 

Circuit Civil Division D

Judge Edward Nicholas

Schedule Hearings
 

County Civil Division 1

Judge Renee Inman

 

County Civil Division 2

Judge Jacqueline B. Steele

 

County Civil Division 3

Judge Heather Doyle

 

County Civil Division 4

Judge Mark Singer

 

Zoom Hearings

The Civil division will be handling all matters but jury trials via Zoom until further notice as the circuit progresses through the phases of reopening. For Zoom procedures and guidelines, please see the individual judge’s Zoom page found on the circuit's Public Court Hearings page.  Please also refer to each judge’s preferences/requirements page for specific instructions for setting and conducting a hearing.

Residential Foreclosure Trials

Residential Foreclosure Trials have been suspended.  Please refer to the latest Administrative Order for updates regarding the duration and details of the moratorium.  If a residential mortgage foreclosure case has a trial date that is not within the moratorium, it remains scheduled.

Civil Jury Trial Suspension

The pandemic will prevent us from conducting civil jury trials in 2020. Chief Judge Bonner has explained the reasoning behind this difficult decision in her message to the 12th Circuit, which is posted on the circuit's home page.

There will be a backlog of cases to be tried by jury in 2021 and we cannot predict whether future events will hinder our ability to host large groups of jurors in close proximity to each other in the courthouse. The constitutional right to a jury trial is fundamental and will always be upheld by the Court.  However, it is important during this time of delay to consider alternative means of resolution. The civil judges encourage parties to set a status conference in your case to discuss how to move forward with as little delay as possible.

Court Alternatives to Jury Trial

Non-jury trial: requires waiver of jury trial by both parties, but the Court will be able to try the case earlier than jury trials. Due to the process of reopening the courthouse for in-person activities in phases with the Civil Division at the tail end of that phase-in schedule, these are likely to be via Zoom for the remainder of 2020.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Options

***These procedures occur outside the courthouse and may be conducted in person, with the agreement of the participants and as long as not in violation of any order prohibiting gatherings in the local jurisdiction.***

  1. Voluntary trial resolution hearing – Section 44.104, Fla. Stat.: Both sides agree to a member of the bar, who has been a member of the bar for 5 years and meets the training requirements of 44.106, serving as a “voluntary trial judge.” The court will appoint the voluntary trial judge from the list below. Compensation for the voluntary trial judge shared by the parties and determined by their agreement. The voluntary trial judge is bound by the rules of evidence and may render a final decision on any issue the parties bring. A party may enforce the final decision made at this hearing by filing a petition for final judgment in circuit court.
    1. Florida Statute 44.104
    2. Those serving as arbitrators or mediators meet the requirements of §44.106. See arbitrator or mediator lists for qualified candidates.
  2. Voluntary Binding Arbitration – Section 44.104, Fla. Stat.: Both sides agree to binding arbitration. A single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators renders final decision reached by the majority of the panel. This option is generally beneficial in larger, more complex cases. The arbitrators are bound by the rules of evidence. The parties compensate the arbitrators according to their agreement.
    1. Florida Statute 44.104
    2. List of qualified arbitrators for the 12th Judicial Circuit
  3. Non-binding Arbitration – Section 44.103, Fla. Stat.: the Court may refer contested civil cases to nonbinding arbitration, if the case meets the following criteria as required by AO2020-18.1
    1. The jury trial has been delayed due to COVID-19
    2. The case is likely to resolve as a result of non-binding arbitration
    3. The imposition of non-binding arbitration does not result in undue financial hardship on the parties.

    The arbitrators are compensated by the parties, but the arbitrator’s fee may not exceed $1500 per the statute. The hearing is conducted informally and matters are presented to the arbitrators primarily through statements are arguments from counsel. The arbitration decision is then presented to the parties in writing. Any party unsatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision may request a trial de novo, and the judge will not be made aware of the arbitrator’s decision. The statute provides a procedure for recouping attorney’s fees for this process in certain circumstances. If you would like to participate in non-binding arbitration, but the other side will not agree, you are encouraged to file a motion and bring the matter before the Court for determination.

    1. Florida Statute 44.103
    2. List of qualified arbitrators for the 12th Judicial Circuit
    3. Order Referring Case to Court-Ordered Nonbinding Arbitration During COVID-19
    4. Order Appointing Arbitrator in Court-Ordered Nonbinding Arbitration
  4. Mediation: Section 44.102, Fla. Stat.: the Court may order parties to mediate and share the cost of compensating the mediator in certain cases. Mediation is a vital part of the civil system of justice and is routinely ordered in most civil cases set for trial unless there is good cause not to order mediation.
    1. Florida Courts' Alternative Dispute Resolution webpage
    2. "Mediation Myths and Urban Legends," The Florida Bar
    3. Florida Statute 44.102
    4. Florida State Courts Dispute Resolution Center's Mediator Search

Circuit Civil Divisions A, C & E

 

Circuit Civil Division A

Judge Stephen M. Walker

Schedule Hearings
 

Circuit Civil Division C

Judge Andrea McHugh

Schedule Hearings
 

Circuit Civil Division E

Judge Hunter Carroll

Schedule Hearings
 

County Civil Division A

Judge Erika Quartermaine

 

County Civil Division B

Judge Maryann Boehm

 

County Civil Division C

Judge David Denkin

 

County Civil Division D

Judge Phyllis Galen

 

Civil Magistrate

Magistrate Deborah Bailey

Schedule Hearings
 

Updated Temporary New Procedures for All South County (Venice) Circuit Matters

ALL SOUTH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HEARINGS WILL BE HELD VIA ZOOM With the exception of essential proceedings,[1] all hearings will be conducted via video conference. Essential proceedings can be and have been conducted effectively remotely; therefore, these proceedings may proceed in-person only if it is shown that conducting the proceedings remotely is infeasible due to the lack of technological resources.[2] If an essential matter must be heard in-person, file a motion requesting an in-person hearing and detail the difficulty that exists in being able to participate remotely. Email the motion to the judicial assistant with a copy to all parties.

Nothing precludes the parties from stipulating that matters be determined based solely on written submissions (written motions and written responses with legal analysis). Any such stipulation shall be evidenced by an agreement signed by all parties and filed with the Clerk.

  1. Use of Video Conference for Court Hearings: As a reminder, court hearings remain public proceedings despite the existence of COVID-19. The Court will use the Zoom video conference platform to conduct virtual court hearings. You can find information about Zoom at its website. Zoom is FREE. If you are unfamiliar with the Zoom platform, please go to the Zoom training page to learn how to access the platform.

    The Court must be able to see all parties. The use of the audio number provided with the hearing information is if the video/camera device does not have a two-way microphone.

  2. Scheduling Hearings: There is hearing time available on JACS and nothing about scheduling hearings has changed. If hearing time is not available in the timeframe you need, or for longer hearings, please continue to contact the judicial assistant. Alternate, unconventional dates are always available. Email contact with the judicial assistant with copy to all parties generally is the quicker and more efficient means of communication.
  3. Requirements for the Notice of Hearing: The public’s constitutional right of access to the courts is of upmost importance.[3] The necessary information that will permit the parties and the public access to the court hearing is accessible at Judge Ruhl's Zoom Video Conference Access Information page. Additionally, the Court also requires the notice of hearing to contain language that will direct the parties and public to that site.

CMC, Pre-Trial Conference & Docket Sounding: Plaintiff’s counsel (or defense counsel, if plaintiff is pro se) shall file a Notice of Hearing with all Zoom hearing information separate from the Order entered by the Court.

The Notice of Hearing shall contain the following: zoom link, meeting id, password, audio access (for issues as indicated in paragraph 2), and alternate link from the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court website. If any of the listed information is missing, the hearing will be cancelled by the Court without further notice to the parties as the hearing was not properly noticed.

REQUIRED LANGUAGE TO INCLUDE IN NOTICE OF HEARING:

Copy to Clipboard

Notice of Hearing for Zoom Video Conference

All parties must appear via VIDEO conference; meaning, the Court must be able to see all parties. Please log into your hearing a few minutes early to test mic and video connections. When asked for your name, please type your FIRST and LAST name so the court may identify you properly. Zoom is FREE. Information about Zoom may be found at its website, https://wwww.zoom.us. If you are unfamiliar with the Zoom platform, please go to the ZOOM training page website, https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials, to learn how to access the platform for use.

DATE & TIME: [insert date & time here]
MATTER: [insert matter here]
LOCATION: Video Hearing

3 WAYS TO ACCESS THE HEARING:

  1. Online: Go to the Zoom Join Meeting page, https://zoom.us/join [Then enter the meeting ID & password listed below]
  2. Direct Zoom Link:
  3. Alternate link to meeting list: http://jud12.flcourts.org/Public-Information/Public-Court-Hearings/ctl/meetings/mid/1141/pid/11

Meeting Id:
Password:
Audio (if the video/camera device does not have a two-way microphone):

  1. Jury Trials: All jury trials are cancelled through September 18, 2020.[4] However, parties shall attend the Pre-Trial Conference, as it will serve as a Status Conference. If the parties would like a sooner Status Conference, please review JACS for available hearing time or contact the judicial assistant.
  2. Nonjury Trials and Evidentiary Hearings: Prior to docket sounding, the parties shall discuss the logistics of conducting any nonjury trials or evidentiary hearing remotely. Once a date/time certain has been reserved, parties shall set a short Status Conference with the Court to discuss any issues concerning video conferencing matters. For those on a trial docket, this date will usually be set by the Court to occur after Docket Sounding and before the start of trial. Parties are encouraged to review the Civil Guidelines for Virtual Evidentiary Hearings prior to setting the Status Conference.
  3. Emergency Matters: Normal procedures for handling emergency matters outlined in Local Rule 4b are still followed. The Court, when considering any emergency motion, may a require a written response from the other party prior to a video conference hearing being set and the Court may rule upon the motion without any hearing.
  4. Uniform Motion Calendar: UMCs are cancelled. Please review JACS for all available hearing time. There are 5-minute time slots available every week, except during the trial periods. If the parties are looking for hearing time within a week or are not able to find time, proceed with the normal procedure (see paragraph 3). 

Last updated June 1, 2020.

[1] Essential proceedings are Injunction hearings, Emergency Temporary Guardianship hearings, Final Guardianship hearings, and hearings on DNR Orders. See In Re: Comprehensive COVID-19 Emergency Measures for the Florida State Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC20-23.1, Amendment 1 (Fla. May 4, 2020); In Re: COVID-19 Emergency Procedures and Mission Essential Functions, Twelfth Judicial Circuit Admin. Order No. 2020-4.2 (March 18, 2020).

[2] “Participants who have the capability of participating by electronic means in remote court proceedings shall do so.” In Re: Comprehensive COVID-19 Emergency Measures for the Florida State Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC20-23, Amendment 2 (Fla. May 21, 2020).

[3] Fla. Const. art. I, § 21; Fla. Const. art. I, § 24;  Sarasota Herald-Tribune v. State, 924 So. 2d 8, 10 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).

[4] In Re: Order Suspending Civil Jury Trials Through September 18, 2020, Twelfth Judicial Circuit Admin. Order No. 2020-13.01 (May 29, 2020).

Circuit Civil Division H

 

Circuit Civil Division H

Judge Maria Ruhl

 

County Civil Division H

Judge Dana Moss

 

Criminal PTCs

9:00 am – Pro se
9:30 am – Public Defender/O.R.C.
1:30 pm – Private Attorney

7/14, 7/28, 8/11, 8/25, 9/8, 9/22, 10/6, 10/20, 11/3, 11/17, 12/1, 12/15, 12/29

Important COVID-19 Updates

The Florida Supreme Court has suspended all in-person court appearances in county courts throughout Florida until May 29, 2020, per Administrative Order AOSC20-23.  The Florida Supreme Court will issue additional orders extending or modifying this date as warranted by the changing circumstances of this public health emergency.

If a party has a case that had been set for an in-person hearing during this emergency stay, the Clerk or Judge’s office will send notice to the party advising whether a new future date is been assigned or otherwise directing the party to contact the court for a new date when in-person hearings resume.  Parties are responsible for ensuring that the Sarasota County Clerk of Court has the correct mailing address for the party.

Therefore, during the COVID-19 outbreak Judge Moss will conduct hearings either by telephone or videoconferencing using ZOOM.  If you have a matter that needs immediate attention or that you would like reviewed during this emergency, please contact (941) 861-3050 or CoDivisionH@jud12.flcourts.org to determine if the matter is appropriate for a telephonic hearing/ videoconferencing.

All Zoom hearings scheduled for a particular day will use the same credentials.  Please understand that each session's credentials are unique and nontransferable.  All notices for hearing shall include the credentials for attendance by telephone or videoconferencing.  The Judicial Assistant will provide the credentials upon scheduling the matter.  As a courtesy, please keep all microphones muted while your case is not being addressed. Business casual attire is appropriate for Zoom hearings during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have any difficulties, please immediately contact CoDivisionH@jud12.flcourts.org.