In the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit
in and for DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota Counties

Administrative Order No. 2021–09.2

(terminates 2020–21b.3, 2020–12c.02, 2020–10.3, 2020–9.12, 2020–6.8, 2020–4a.2 )


Order on Court Operations, Use of Remote
Technology and Ceasing COVID-19 Procedures

Whereas, on June 4, 2021, Chief Justice Canady entered AOSC21-17, In Re: COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and Emergency Operational Measures for Florida Appellate and Trial Courts, which establishes new temporary health and safety protocols and emergency operational measures; and

Whereas, effective June 21, 2021, AOSC21-17 also terminated administrative orders AOSC20-23 and AOSC 20-32 which contained COVID-19 Public Health and Safety Precautions for Operational Phase Transitions, and which incorporated the Workgroup report titled Court Operations Subgroup (COS) Requirements, Benchmarks, and Guidelines Governing Operational Phase Transitionsi,ii,iii,iv,v,vi,vii,viii,ix,x,xi to protect public health and safety while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice; and

Whereas, it is currently no longer necessary for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit to operate under Phase 2 COVID-19 health and safety protocols and the court is transitioning to optimal operations in a manner that protects the public’s health and safety; and

Whereas, during the past sixteen months, numerous administrative orders that were entered by this Court related to COVID-19 are no longer applicable and can now be terminated.

Now, therefore, in order to provide for continued court operations, and in accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, rule 2.215, Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration, and section 43.26, Florida Statutes, it is ordered and adjudged:

Court Operations

  1. Effective June 21, 2021, this court is no longer operating under Phase 2 guidelines.
  2. Hand sanitizer and cleaning products are available throughout the courthouses, including inside courtrooms, hearing rooms and jury deliberation rooms.
  3. Administrative Order 2020-12c.02, COVID-19 Public Health and Safety Precautions and Procedures, Third Amendment, is terminated, effective June 21, 2021. Face masks will no longer be required to be worn during in-person court proceedings and social distancing is not required[1],[2]. However, participants and observers may wear face masks[3], and upon request, one will be provided.
  4. In order to maximize the resolution of all cases, all judges shall strictly comply with Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.545(a),(b) and (e), which respectively require judges to conclude litigation as soon as it is reasonably and justly possible to do so, to take charge of all cases at an early state, and to control the progress of the case thereafter until it is determined, and to apply a firm continuance policy along continuances only for good cause shown.
  5. All deposition rooms located in the courthouses are open[4].
  6. Sarasota County’s weekday first appearance hearings may be conducted at the jail, as per pre-COVID.[5] Judges who prefer to use video feed in lieu of going to the jail will do so from their courtrooms. Attorneys, media or interested parties wishing to appear at or observe first appearance hearings may contact Court Administration to obtain the appropriate location, or check the schedule posted in the public elevators of the Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center each day.

Use of Remote Technology

  1. AOSC21-17, authorizes the chief judge to take all necessary steps to support the remote conduct of trial court proceedings with the use of technology, and the chief judge remains authorized to establish procedures for the use, to the maximum extent feasible, of communication equipment for the remote conduct of proceedings to facilitate the efficient and expeditious processing of cases.
  2. Court proceedings that have already been noticed for a scheduled hearing using remote technology may be conducted using remote technology. The presiding judge, magistrate or hearing officer shall implement division policies addressing remote hearings so that all parties and counsel are aware of the manner in which the proceeding will be conducted. Remote hearings continue to be authorized as per administrative order, and should be utilized where appropriate and in the interests of judicial economy

Juror Excusals

  1. For juror summonses issued for June 21, 2021, or later, clerks of court are required to remove information regarding the excusal or postponement of a potential juror due to COVID-19 or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from their summons and/or website, if applicable.

Other Administrative Orders Terminated

  1. Administrative Order 2020-21b.3, Second Amended Criminal Division Omnibus Order Regarding COVID-19 Procedures for Phase 2, is terminated effective June 21, 2021.
  2. Administrative Order 2020-10.3, COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Order Violations under 381.00315, is terminated effective June 21, 2021.
  3. Administrative Order 2020-9.12, Parenting Procedures in the Family Division during COVID-19 Pandemic, is terminated effective June 21, 2021.
  4. Administrative Order 2020-6.8, Administrative Order Modifying and/or Suspending In-Person Visitation for Children Under the Protective Supervision of the Department of Children and Families, is terminated effective June 21, 2021.
  5. Administrative Order 2020-4a.2, Revisions to COVID-19 Emergency Procedures and Mission Essential and Critical Court Functions Specific to Phase 1, is terminated effective June 21, 2021.
  6. This order is effective upon signing and remains in effect until further order from this court.

Done and ordered in Chambers, Sarasota County, Florida, this 14th day of June, 2021.

Kimberly C. Bonner
Chief Judge

  1. The court is mindful of section 768.38(3)(c)2., Florida Statutes, which says that courts must make “a good faith effort to substantially comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance” during their operations. To this end, unless required by federal, state, or local laws, rules, or regulations, the wearing of face masks and physical distancing are not required during in-person court proceedings.
  2. Requests for physical distancing will be addressed by the presiding judge as appropriate under the circumstances at the time of the request.
  3. As used in this order, “face masks” refers to face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth and that fit snugly around the nose, chin, and sides of the face as described by the CDC. See Guidance for Wearing Masks, CDC (April 19, 2021).
  4. Deposition rooms were reopened effective May 24, 2021, pursuant to AO 2020-21b.3.
  5. This procedure went into effect June 1, 2021, pursuant to AO 2020-21b.3.

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