In the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit
of the State of Florida in and for
DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties, Florida
Administrative Order NO. 2023–05.2
(Modifies and amends 2022–08.2)
Seventh Amended Order on
Health and Safety Protocols
Effective at the end of the day on May 11, 2023, the federal government will end the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, although the health, safety, and well-being of courthouse visitors, jurors, court employees, and judicial officers remain a high priority of this court. We continue to take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the court, its participants, and the general public, while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice.
As such, it is appropriate to modify and amend Administrative Order 2022-08.2 to reflect current circumstances regarding COVID-19 and comply with Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC22-51, titled Termination of Specified COVID-19 Emergency Operational Measures to Account for New Rules on Remote Conduct of Court Proceedings, issued on October 3, 2022, and AOSC23-25, In Re: COVID-19 Administrative Orders, issued on April 27, 2023, which terminated many provisions of AOSC21-17, Amendment 3, titled In Re: COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and Emergency Operational Measures for Florida Appellate and Trial Courts.
In accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, section 43.26, Florida Statutes and AOSC21-17, Amendment 3 (January 8, 2022), AOSC22-51 and AOSC23-25, and in the interest of the health, safety, and well-being of all people entering the courthouse, it is hereby Ordered and Adjudged as follows:
Face Masks Permitted but not Required
- Face masks are permitted but are not required to be worn upon entering the courthouse or in public areas of the courthouse.
- 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 is not required, however, individuals required to be in the courthouse may request a judge to provide for physical distancing wherever possible.
- Signage may be placed on courtroom seats to accommodate physical distancing requests.
Testing Positive for COVID-19 and Known COVID-19 Symptoms
- 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 , self-isolation and face mask protocols. These protocols are in place for court employees who test positive for COVID-19 or who were directly exposed to a COVID positive person.
- Anyone who is sick or experiencing any of the following known COVID-19 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.
- Anyone who is currently testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, is prohibited from entering a court facility.
- Litigants, witnesses, or jurors who are 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.
- 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, floor, 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
- Everyone in the courthouse should practice good hygiene protocols, including hand washing, hand sanitizing, and covering coughs and sneezes.
- Hand sanitizer is widely available throughout the courthouse, including inside courtrooms.
- Disinfecting cleaning products and paper towels are available in each courtroom or in Court Administration, upon request.
Use of Remote Technology and Inmate Transport Authorized
- In July 2022, The Supreme Court adopted amendments to multiple rules of procedure which provide for broader authorization for the remote conduct of certain court proceedings. The rule amendments became effective on October 1, 2022. In light of the Court’s adoption of comprehensive rules governing remote conduct of proceedings, it is not necessary to delineate them in this Administrative Order.
- 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. An incarcerated defendant who tests positive for COVID-19 shall not be transported.
- Administrative Order 2022-08.2 is hereby amended by this Seventh Amended Administrative Order, which is effective Friday, May 12, 2023, and will remain in effect until modified, extended or rescinded by further order of this court or direction by the Florida Supreme Court.
Done and ordered in chambers, Sarasota County, Florida, this 11th day of May, 2023.
Charles E. Roberts
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