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

Administrative Order No. 2022–08.2

(modifies and amends 2021–15f.2)


Sixth Amended Order
on Health and Safety
Protocols Regarding

It is necessary and appropriate to modify and amend Administrative Order 2021-15f.2 to reflect current circumstances and comply with Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC21-17, Amendment 3, titled In re: Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocols and Emergency Operational Measures for Florida Appellate and Trial Courts, issued on January 8, 2022.

For the past several months, each county within our circuit has experienced COVID-19 positivity rates between 10-20%, and the health, safety, and well-being of courthouse visitors, jurors, court employees, and judicial officers are still a high priority. We continue to take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts, its participants, and the general public, while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice.

The Florida Supreme Court has authorized the chief judge of each circuit in Florida, if warranted by local health conditions, to have the discretion to determine how best to utilize available trial court resources and facility space to conduct in-person proceedings.[1]

In accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, section 43.26, Florida Statutes and Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC21-17, Amendment 3 (January 8, 2022), in the interest of the health, safety, and well-being of all people entering the courthouse, and in order to reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 in the courthouse, it is hereby ordered and adjudged as follows:

Face Masks Recommended but not Required

  1. Face masks are not required to be worn upon entering the courthouse or in public areas of the courthouse. However, all persons are highly encouraged to wear a face mask, and should wear a face mask while in the courthouse and in close proximity to other persons.
  2. If a person entering the courthouse wishes to wear a face mask but does not have his/her own face mask, one will be provided upon request.

Physical Distancing Recommended but not Required

  1. Physical distancing is not required, but is highly recommended in all courtrooms, hearing rooms, jury assembly rooms and jury deliberation rooms where in-person proceedings occur.
  2. Signage may be placed on courtroom seats to accommodate physical distancing requests.

COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing Positive for COVID-19

  1. To limit the transmission of COVID-19 among court staff, the court has had a very stringent COVID-19 policy for judges and court employees, including required contact tracing[2], self-isolation and quarantine protocols. Current protocols require that court employees who test positive for COVID-19 or who were directly exposed to a positive person cannot return to the workplace before obtaining a negative COVID-19 test administered by a medical professional.
  2. The court is limited on the testing requirements it can enforce on non-employees, however, anyone who is sick or experiencing any of the following symptoms should not enter the Courthouse: a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, fever or chills, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea, or a new loss of taste or smell. Anyone with these symptoms (that are not attributed to causes other than COVID-19) should self-isolate and contact the court about rescheduling.
  3. Anyone who is testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, is prohibited from entering into a court facility.
  4. Litigants, witnesses or jurors who are sick or positive for COVID-19 on a day they are required to be in the courthouse should contact the court or clerk’s office about rescheduling.
  5. Anyone who was in the courthouse and develops COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 within the following 24 hours should contact Court Administration’s Human Resource Office (941.749.3600, ext. 1791 or ) so that contact tracing can occur. You should provide the exact locations you were (which building, which floor, which courtroom, etc.) and identifying information about anyone you were within six feet of (your lawyer, an interpreter, jurors, a bailiff, etc.) for a cumulative total of at least fifteen minutes while you were in the courthouse.

Hygiene and Cleaning

  1. Everyone in the courthouse must practice good hygiene protocols, including hand washing, hand sanitizing, and covering coughs and sneezes.
  2. Hand sanitizer is widely available throughout the courthouse, including inside courtrooms
  3. Disinfecting cleaning products and paper towels are available in each courtroom or in Court Administration.

Use of Remote Technology, In-Person Proceedings Authorized, and Inmate Transport Authorized

  1. Presiding judges are encouraged to use remote technology for court proceedings whenever possible. If a party requests that a court proceeding be conducted using remote technology, the presiding judge should give reasonable consideration to accommodating the request.
  2. If mass dockets are conducted in person, the presiding judge is encouraged to establish a protocol that uses staggered start times to accommodate anticipated physical distancing requests.
  3. Unrepresented defendants, or defendants in whose cases a written plea of not guilty or denial have not been filed, shall appear in court in person for all arraignments, including violation of probation early case resolution (ECR) arraignments.
  4. In-custody defendants who are not in segregation, quarantine or isolation housing at the county jail may be transported to the courthouse for jury trials and hearings at the discretion of the presiding judge. An incarcerated defendant who tests positive for COVID-19 shall not be transported.
  5. Administrative Order 2021-15f.2 is hereby amended by this Sixth Amended Administrative Order, which is effective Monday, August 1, 2022, and will remain in effect until modified, extended or rescinded by further order of this court based on updated health data or direction by the Florida Supreme Court.

Done and ordered in chambers, Sarasota County, Florida, this 29th day of July, 2022.

Charles E. Roberts
Chief Judge

  1. In re: COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and Emergency Operational Measures for Florida Appellate and Trial Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC21-17, Amendment 3 (January 8, 2022), section (II)(E)(5).
  2. Contract tracing is to identify anyone a COVID-positive person was within six feet of for a cumulative total of at least fifteen minutes during the past 24 hours.

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