CIRCUIT CIVIL COURT

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

CASE MANAGEMENT REPORTS

Mandatory case management is required by the direction of the Chief Justice of Florida and implemented by the Chief Judge’s administrative order. The parties are required to meet and confer when completing a Case Management Report. The Court has downloadable Case Management Reports in both Word and .pdf format, one for General cases and one for Streamlined cases. Please use the correct form for your case.

If you use the .pdf format, you must first download the form to your computer before you fill it out. If you do not, no changes will be saved or printable.

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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 until further notice.

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

As of June 21, 2021, the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Charles Canady, has removed all requirements of social distancing and mandatory face coverings as well as eliminating the requirement that most hearings be conducted remotely. Many court events have been scheduled over the next several months, and were scheduled as “Zoom” events. To provide maximum flexibility and consistency as Circuit Civil Division B transitions back to in person proceedings, the following procedures will be followed:

Jury Trials resumed in January, 2021 and will continue to be conducted in person.

All hearings that were noticed prior to June 21, 2021 will be conducted at the time and manner set forth in the notice. All hearings noticed on or after June 21, 2021 shall be noticed as set forth below.

Unless otherwise agreed by the parties and approved by the court, all nonjury trials and evidentiary hearings will be conducted in person and non-evidentiary hearings will be conducted via Zoom.

Case Management Conferences and Pretrial Conferences will be conducted via Zoom.

At this time, the court does not have the available technology to conduct hybrid hearings in which some parties appear remotely and some in person. If and when this becomes available, these instructions will be updated accordingly.

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

 

Courtroom Procedures

As of June 21, 2021, the Sarasota Circuit Civil Court will be conducting both remote hearings and hearings in-person.

In-Person Hearings

The following hearings shall be conducted in-person, unless otherwise ordered by the Court: Jury Trials, Non-Jury Trials, Foreclosure Trials, Foreclosure Summary Judgment Hearings, Evidentiary Hearings more than one hour in length, and Pre-Trial Conferences.

Remote Hearings

All other hearings will be conducted using the Zoom platform in order to promote efficiency, convenience, and a cost-effective resolution of cases.

For more information about in-person and remote hearings, please see the judges’ individual requirements.

Case Management Report

Mandatory case management is required by the direction of the Chief Justice of Florida and implemented by the Chief Judge’s administrative order. The parties are required to meet and confer when completing a Case Management Report. The Court has downloadable Case Management Reports in both Word and .pdf format, one for General cases and one for Streamlined cases. Please use the correct form for your case.

If you use the .pdf format, you must first download the form to your computer before you fill it out. If you do not, no changes will be saved or printable.

***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 and 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 Olson 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

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

Effective June 21, 2021, these Court events will be in-person in the Courthouse: jury trials, nonjury trials, evidentiary hearings exceeding 1 hour, and interpersonal violence injunction hearings (e.g., Domestic Violence, Stalking, etc.). The parties by motion may seek an alternate appearance method. These Court events will be held in Courtroom H, R.L. Anderson Administration Building, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice, Florida 34293.

All other hearings can be in-person, by Zoom, or both at the discretion of the party.

Judge Carroll is testing a hybrid Courtroom, meaning that Judge Carroll can conduct Court with parties appearing in-person and remotely via Zoom simultaneously. This is not (yet) a circuit wide set-up, and most Judges in the Twelfth Circuit do not have access to a hybrid courtroom at this time.

For any hearing before Judge Carroll that is 1 hour in length or less the parties may appear in-person in Courtroom H or remotely via Zoom without any special request and without notification to the Court. The parties by motion may seek an alternate appearance method. Please do not contact the Court’s Judicial Assistant to notify the Court whether parties intend to appear remotely via Zoom or in-person as each party has the discretion to choose which appearance method that party prefers.

When drafting a Notice of Hearing for a hearing less than 1 hour in length, you must include Judge Carroll’s Zoom credentials (see Judge Carroll’s requirements) and explain that the parties may appear in-person or remotely.

Without exception, exhibits for evidentiary hearings as well as indexes/exhibit lists must be delivered to the Courthouse in two hard-copy sets (one for the Judge and one for the Clerk) at least two days prior to the evidentiary hearing. Plaintiff/Petitioner’s exhibits are to be numbered, i.e. “1, 2, 3…” and Defendant/Respondent’s exhibits are to be lettered, “A, B, C…” This is, of course, the same procedure to be followed for trial exhibits.

UMC hearings will continue to be set through contacting the Court’s Judicial Assistant.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Judge Carroll was lenient did not enforce normal Court attire. Effective June 21, 2021, normal Court attire will be requested whether appearing in-person or remotely via Zoom before Judge Carroll.

SCHEDULE HEARINGS
 

County Civil South County Division

Judge David Denkin