CIRCUIT CIVIL COURT

Florida Circuit Civil Courts have jurisdiction in all civil actions exceeding $30,000. The 12th Circuit Civil Division has three 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.

CHANGES TO COUNTY COURT APPEALS

Appeals of county court decisions pending before circuit courts and subject to the jurisdiction change will be transferred automatically to the appropriate district court of appeal. Effective January 1, 2021, parties appealing certain county court decisions will have their appeal heard in the district courts.

Find full details including informational videos and charts on the Florida Courts website.

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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 resumed. The Mortgage Foreclosure trial dates are posted as a courtesy for planning purposes only.  You may submit a cover letter with your preferred trial term and a blank Order Setting Case for Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Nonjury Trial.  The Court will attempt to accommodate your request, but if that trial docket becomes full, may have to assign your case to the next available trial docket.  Trial dates and form Trial Orders can be found under County Specific Foreclosure Information on the Civil / Foreclosures page.

Civil Jury Trials

The Court will be conducting in-person civil jury trials starting in January, 2021. Participants will be required to wear face coverings and follow the social distancing guidelines of the courthouse. There is a backlog of cases set for trial due to the suspension of jury trials in 2020. Additionally, the social distancing requirements hinder the Court’s ability to host large groups of jurors. These factors may prevent the Court from being able to provide a jury trial for every case set on the trial docket. The constitutional right to a jury trial is fundamental and will always be upheld by the Court. However, it is important during this time to consider alternative means of resolution. The Court is currently working on procedures for remote civil jury trials which will be an option for cases where all parties consent. 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 Melissa Gould

 

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 resumed. The Mortgage Foreclosure trial dates are posted as a courtesy for planning purposes only.  You may submit a cover letter with your preferred trial term and a blank Order Setting Case for Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Nonjury Trial.  The Court will attempt to accommodate your request, but if that trial docket becomes full, may have to assign your case to the next available trial docket.  Trial dates and form Trial Orders can be found under County Specific Foreclosure Information on the Civil / Foreclosures page.

Civil Jury Trials

The Court will be conducting in-person civil jury trials starting in January, 2021. Participants will be required to wear face coverings and follow the social distancing guidelines of the courthouse. There is a backlog of cases set for trial due to the suspension of jury trials in 2020. Additionally, the social distancing requirements hinder the Court’s ability to host large groups of jurors. These factors may prevent the Court from being able to provide a jury trial for every case set on the trial docket. The constitutional right to a jury trial is fundamental and will always be upheld by the Court. However, it is important during this time to consider alternative means of resolution. The Court is currently working on procedures for remote civil jury trials which will be an option for cases where all parties consent. 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

 

Circuit Civil Division A

Judge Stephen M. Walker

Schedule Hearings
 

Circuit Civil Division C

Judge Andrea McHugh

Schedule Hearings
 

County Civil Division A

Judge Erika Quartermaine

 

County Civil Division B

Judge Maryann Boehm

 

County Civil Division C

Judge Dana Moss

 

County Civil Division D

Judge Phyllis Galen

 

Civil Magistrate

Magistrate Deborah Bailey

Schedule Hearings
 

Circuit Civil Division H

 

Judge Hunter Carroll

SCHEDULE HEARINGS
 

County Civil South County Division

Judge David Denkin