Circuit Probate Court

The Probate Division of the Circuit Court has jurisdiction of proceedings relating to the settlement of the estates of decedents and minors, the granting of wills, guardianship, involuntary hospitalization, and the determination of competency. The Probate Division also has jurisdiction over proceedings relating to the Jimmy Ryce Act (sexual predator) and hears all jury trials and hearings regarding these matters.

Guardianship

A guardian is a surrogate decision-maker appointed by the court to make either personal and/or financial decisions for a minor or for an adult with mental or physical disabilities. After adjudication, the subject of the guardianship is termed a "ward."

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Circuit Probate

Judge Don T. Hall

 

Circuit Probate Judge Diana L. Moreland

Electronic Appearances

Although The Florida Supreme Court’s Administrative Orders presently limit in-person hearings impacts our ability to address some probate division matters, we are committed to addressing as many issues as possible using all available technology. Because Supreme Court Administrative Orders have temporarily suspended some rule requirements, we have some flexibility in offering attorneys and litigants the means to have their hearings go forward. As Such, the following procedures are available:

THIS COURT PREFERS THE USE OF THE ZOOM HEARING PLATFORM WITH BOTH AUDIO AND VIDEO ENGAGED. ONLY IF THERE ARE LEGITIMATE ECONOMIC OR TECHNICAL OBSTACLES MAY A LESSER PLATFORM BE USED SUCH AS; ZOOM WITHOUT VIDEO OR TELEPHONIC.

ZOOM hearings

Contested Hearings: Non-Evidentiary

Zoom Hearings shall be scheduled as delineated per requirements above. Judge Moreland will be hosting a morning and afternoon session, Monday through Thursday. The morning session blocks shall run from 8:30 a.m. to noon, and the afternoon session blocks from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Zoom Hearing credentials, for purposes of notices, are posted on Judge Moreland's Zoom Hearings page. If a hearing is scheduled during one of the two daily session blocks you will use the Zoom Hearing credentials for all hearings scheduled during that session block, regardless of your particular scheduled hearing time.

Contested Hearings: Evidentiary
  1. Zoom Hearings shall be scheduled as delineated per requirements above.  Judge Moreland will be hosting a morning and afternoon session, Monday through Thursday. The morning session blocks shall run from 8:30 a.m. to noon, and the afternoon session blocks from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Zoom Hearing credentials, for purposes of notices, are posted on Judge Moreland's Zoom Hearings page.  If a hearing is scheduled during one of the two daily session blocks you will use the Zoom Hearing credentials for all hearings scheduled during that session block, regardless of your particular scheduled hearing time.
  2. All evidence must be submitted and marked at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. Attorneys should use the same numbering/lettering system the clerk uses when marking evidence (petitioners/plaintiffs uses numbers and respondent/defendants uses letters).
  3. The court will record an exhibit list concerning admitted evidence if no clerk is present. Everything submitted, whether formally admitted or not, will go to the clerk for filing.

Telephonic Appearances

Telephonic Hearings less than fifteen (15) minutes

Are allowed on non-evidentiary hearings 15 minutes or less in length. The Court will not initiate the call. The attorney wishing to appear telephonically will call the judicial assistant at (941)749-3617 at the scheduled hearing time. Requests to appear by phone must be by written motion, accompanied by an Order, at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. The motion and Order shall include: the date, time and subject of the hearing. There are multiple hearings scheduled at the same time, and telephone hearings are usually taken last, therefore your hearing may not be at the exact hour.

Please review Fla.R.Jud.Admin 2.530.

Telephonic Hearings fifteen (15) minutes or longer

If there are legitimate economic or technological reasons a party cannot use the Zoom platform with audio and video engaged a request to appear telephonically must be advanced. The Court will not initiate the call. The attorney wishing to appear telephonically will call the judicial assistant at (941)749-3617 at the scheduled hearing time. Requests to appear by phone must be by motion, accompanied by and Order, at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. The motion shall include the date, time, subject, and legitimate reasons why the Zoom platform is unavailable. There are multiple hearings scheduled at the same time, and telephone hearings are usually taken last, therefore your hearing may not be at the exact hour.

Conference Calls

The court does not have the ability to call more than one phone number at a time. If more than one person would like to appear by phone, the parties must make the necessary arrangements for a conference call to take place. The attorneys must provide a conference call phone number and login on the JACS system, as well as on the Notice of Hearing.

Judge Diana Moreland

SCHEDULING HEARINGS
 

Announcement Regarding Changes to Probate and Guardianship Division

May 12, 2020

Effective Immediately

FOR MISSION CRITICAL MATTERS:

Pursuant to Administrative Order 2020-4.2, the Probate and Guardianship Division of Sarasota County will be scheduling limited hearings on the following matters determined to be mission essential matters, pursuant to Administrative Order 2020-4.2

  1. Hearings on Do Not Resuscitate Orders
  2. Hearings for the appointment of emergency temporary guardian
  3. Final Guardianship hearings
  4. Hearings on Risk Protection Orders

Parties calling witnesses for mission essential hearings must comply with Supreme Court Administrative Order No. AOSC20-16 regarding notaries & witnesses:

If you are unable to locate hearing time on the JACS calendar for a mission critical court proceeding, please contact the judicial assistant.

FOR ALL NON-MISSION CRITICAL MATTERS

With the exception of certain matters that have been previously scheduled on the JACS calendar, and Until Further Notice The court shall continue to hear non-evidentiary, uncontested and stipulated matters less than 15 minutes in length as part of its Ex Parte calendar. 

All hearings scheduled before Judge Williams shall be conducted telephonically.  Again, it must be emphasized that the scheduling attorney is primarily responsible for arranging the necessary conference call and coordinating with all the required parties to the hearing.  No witnesses shall be called and no evidence shall be introduced.

Conference call-in information and courtesy copies of paperwork must be transmitted to the probate coordinator.  Failure to provide conference call information will result in the cancellation of your hearing.

In an effort to avoid delays in hearing non-mission critical telephonic hearings, the court is adopting a staggered JACS hearing calendar that attorneys may scheduled on a first come, first served basis.  Attorneys should have conference call details available at the time of scheduling to include in the JACS notes.

Parties unable to schedule or locate hearing time for non-mission critical telephonic hearings on the JACS calendar may request hearing time by contacting the judicial assistant.

Every effort will be made to accommodate all hearing requests.

The JACS schedule follows:

  • 9:30 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 9:45 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 10:00 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 10:15 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 10:30 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 10:45 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 11:00 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 11:15 a.m. 3 hearing timeslots
  • 11:30 a.m. reserved for court set emergency hearings
  • 11:45 a.m. reserved for court set emergency hearings
NEW: Limited contested matters may now be scheduled for telephonic or virtual hearings

Contested matters defined: a contested matter is one that is adversarial in nature, is not agreed to, or an opposing party is involved who does not consent to the proposed action by the court.

Parameters: contested matters shall be matters less than three hours in length and consist of a reasonable number of witnesses and documents of evidence.  The reasonableness number of each shall be determined at a case management conference prior to the contested hearing taking place.

To obtain hearing time contact the judicial assistant.

Mandatory Case Management Conference: prior to the contested matter being heard the parties shall coordinate a case management conference on the Court’s JACS calendar at least one week prior to the hearing to discuss matters such as stipulations, presentation of witnesses and evidence and other potential logistical concerns inherent to remote hearings.

If the Court determines that the matter is not appropriate for a telephonic/remote/virtual hearing, the Court may cancel the hearing.

Parties are reminded that pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2003.4-5 (see page 8 of the Court’s requirements), those Probate matters that are identified by the moving party to last  ½ day (3 hours) must be re-assigned to a Civil Division Judge.   The moving party must make a written request to the Court for hearing time.  The re-assigned Civil Judge will make the decision as to whether the matter is appropriate for a telephone/virtual contested matter.  

IMPORTANT - NEW REQUIREMENT FOR ORDERS TRANSMITTED TO THE COURT FOR HEARINGS

Effective immediately, the Court requires that all orders transmitted to the Probate Coordinator for hearings pending before the court must be sent in a separate .pdf document. Petitions, motions and any other courtesy copies shall be sent in a .pdf scan separate from proposed orders.

Parties are reminded that the Court requires all paperwork for hearings to be transmitted to the Probate Coordinator via e-mail.  The e-mail subject line shall include the case style, motion and date of the hearing and the paperwork shall be transmitted no later than 1:00 p.m. on the preceding day of the hearing.

TRANSMITTING ROUTINE PAPERWORK TO THE COURT FOR REVIEW & NEW POLICY REGARDING OBTAINING COPIES OF ORDERS ENTERED BY THE COURT

Please note that the requirements for transmitting routine ex parte proposed orders to the Court for consideration without a hearing  have not changed.  See pages 4 and 5 of Judge Williams’ requirements.

Judge Williams does not accept proposed routine ex parte orders via e-mail.  Please do not send proposed orders to the probate coordinator or judicial assistant e-mail address unless specifically directed to do so.  If your office is experiencing exceptional circumstances that prevent following this requirement, please contact the judicial assistant.

Until further notice, our office will not be distributing conformed copies of orders to the parties, regardless of whether copies and envelopes were provided to the court.  It shall be the moving party’s responsibility to obtain a copy of the order from the clerk’s website and distribute a copy to the relevant parties.

Please continue to check the 12th Circuit website for up to date information on court proceedings and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Circuit Probate

Judge Charles E. Williams

Need help to determine if you need a court ordered guardianship? Visit www.turning18.org, a free non-profit guide to assist families in addressing their legal options as their children with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, reach the legal age of adulthood.
 

Circuit Probate Division H

Judge Hunter Carroll

SCHEDULE HEARINGS