The Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court is looking forward to the phased reopening of our courthouses to the public.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court staff worked hard behind the scenes to move court operations into Phase 2, as defined by Florida Supreme Court AOSC2020-23, Amendment 7.

As a community we must to meet certain criteria before we can move into Phase 3 and relax our protective measures and authorize more in-person hearings. So, we must continue our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to limit public access to our court buildings.

Everyone who enters the courthouse must have a face mask. We encourage you to bring your own face covering to court. Face masks must be worn in all public areas.

Limited court proceedings are being held in-person at the courthouses, and Grand Jury proceedings, criminal Jury selection, and criminal jury trials have resumed. However, most hearings that can be held remotely must continue to be held that way, so even though access to physical court buildings remains limited for the safety of the public and court employees, access to justice is not limited.

Some judges have been utilizing technology to work remotely, and some judges are working in the courthouses each day and are following social-distancing requirements; but our message to you is that judges in all divisions are diligently holding hearings and reviewing paperwork submitted to them in an effort to ease the caseload when the courts resume normal operations.

We all look forward to when the citizens of our communities may soon freely access their courthouses.

Changes in Court during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Courts are open, but many hearings are taking place by video or phone. You can look up information about your specific judge’s procedures on the courts' Divisions webpage.

The courts are operating but the processes have been changed so you can take care of your court business by phone or email. Do not go to the courthouse in person unless it is your only option.

Even if you have an in-person court hearing, you may not enter a court building if you:

  • Have flu-like symptoms, or
  • have been directed to quarantine, isolate or self-monitor at home for COVID-19 by a medical provider, or
  • have been diagnosed with or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Jury service has resumed. If you receive a summons, please follow the directions for reporting. If you have questions, please call the clerk of court in your county.

Yes, courts are holding hearings every day. Almost all hearings will continue to be held by phone or video conference unless the court tells the parties to attend in person.

For most people, no.

  • In some cases, a judge may allow or request that a person in a protective order case attend in person.
  • Everyone else, including parties, witnesses, and lawyers, must attend by phone or video conference.

Please don't bring anyone with you to court because they might not be able to come in with you due to social-distancing guidelines.

If there is an in-person hearing, the judge or bailiff will direct everyone where to sit to make sure people are far enough apart to follow social-distancing guidelines.

Please visit our Public Court Hearings page and select your judge* from the list. The “Meetings” links will take you to lists showing the judge’s morning and afternoon sessions. Find your session and follow the instructions.

To participate by phone, you need to:

  • Call the “Audio only” phone number listed for that session, enter the “Meeting ID” then the “Password”

To participate by video, you need to:

  • Click on the session’s “Join Now” button,
  • if prompted, download the Zoom software, and
  • enter the “Password” in the pop-up window.

Whether you’re participating by phone or video, please be sure to mute your microphone while you wait for the judge to begin your hearing.

Do not file a motion to appear by telephone. You can just connect to the conference line and use the associated access code.

*Not all judges are using Zoom video conferencing. Please refer to your Notice of Hearing to verify which method you will use to participate in your specific hearing.

If you’re having trouble contacting your judge’s office, or don’t know who to call to help with your court-related customer service questions, you can call Court Administration. We have staff available daily between 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.:

  • Court Administration, DeSoto County: (863) 993-4644
  • Court Administration, Manatee County: (941) 749-3655
  • Court Administration, Sarasota County: (941) 861-7800

If you need to leave a voicemail message for us, please include:

  • your name,
  • court location where your case is filed,
  • phone number,
  • your question,
  • your case number if you have one, and
  • a good time to reach you.

If you have an interest in a criminal court case, you can register for eNotify, a service that provides users with courtesy text and email reminders about upcoming court events. For more information, visit NOTE: This service is available only for criminal cases.