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<span>Florida's 4th Judicial Circuit</span> COVID-19 / Coronavirus Court Orders

Florida's 4th Judicial Circuit COVID-19 / Coronavirus Court Orders

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phillips, hunt & walker Florida's 4th Judicial Circuit COVID-19 / Coronavirus Court Orders & Procedures

At this time, it is difficult to predict the light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to COVID-19 / Coronavirus. The uncertainty makes it tough to represent clients and run businesses, but also presents an opportunity to grow stronger as a Bar. It also presents an opportunity to realize how connected we all truly are and give us a chance to spend more time with family. We will endure.

As court orders and guidelines have been distributed mostly indirectly, we wanted to take a moment to provide a unified resource of what we know so far. We will attempt to update this as we learn more.

Research before assuming you can cancel or not litigate cases. We all need to abide by our obligations to our clients, but this is an effort to make that easier.

Florida Supreme Court:

  • Administrative Order (March 16):
    • All chief judges of the district and circuit courts shall continue ongoing planning and shall take such mitigating measures as may be necessary to address the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on their respective courts, including review of their emergency preparedness plans and personnel policies, and dialogue with local governmental, health, and law enforcement agencies to ensure that planning is coordinated with those entities.
    • Mitigating measures include but are not limited to: a. prudent methods of social distancing to eliminate unnecessary face-to-face contact to the extent consistent with law; b. sanitary procedures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID19 on court property; and c. use of technology, electronic documents, electronic communications, and other electronic means of conducting court business to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, to the extent consistent with law.
  • Administrative Order (March 13):
    • WHEREAS it is the intent of this order temporarily to suspend grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials, and to temporarily suspend procedural requirements and limitations that could hinder efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts, court participants, and all the people of Florida; and
    • WHEREAS it is the intent of this order to suspend the speedy trial procedure as stated herein in the manner described in Sullivan v. State, 913 So. 2d 762 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005), and State v. Hernandez, 617 So. 2d 1103 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1993); and
    • WHEREAS, a public health emergency currently exists in the Florida State Courts System that requires mitigation of its effects by adopting “social distancing” measures meant to reduce the increase in person-to-person transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19;
  • Florida Courts Press Release (March 13)
    • The suspension of jury trials extends to March 27, 2020.
    • Hearings, filings, and other work of the judicial branch and clerks of court continues.
  • Administrative Order (March 11)
    • The Court amends subdivision (a)(2)(B) (Internal Government; Chief Justice) of rule 2.205 to add to the list of the Chief Justice’s powers and duties a new subdivision (v) to read as follows:
      • “(v) the power, upon request of the chief judge of any circuit or district, or sua sponte, in the event of a public health emergency that requires mitigation of the effects of the emergency on the courts and court participants, to enter such order or orders as may be appropriate: to suspend, extend, toll, or otherwise change time deadlines or standards, including, without limitation, those affecting speedy trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings; suspend the application of or modify other requirements or limitations imposed by rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions, including, without limitation, those governing the use of communication equipment and proceedings conducted by remote electronic means; and authorize temporary implementation of procedures and other measures, including, without limitation, the suspension or continuation of civil and criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings, which procedures or measures may be inconsistent with applicable requirements, to address the emergency situation or public necessity.”

4th Judicial Circuit (Duval, Clay & Nassau Counties):

  • Administrative Order All Jury Trials No. 2020-06
    • All circuit and county court civil jury trials are suspended through May 1, 2020.
  • Notice Regarding Civil Hearings
    • All circuit court civil division hearings in Duval County will be conducted by telephone or video conference. This includes ex parte hearings.
    • e. Any party who believes that an in-person hearing is necessary may file a request with the judge. Those requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Administrative Order Rescheduling Criminal Pretrial Conferences
    • Criminal Traffic Proceedings for March 17 at 9:00am in courtroom 301 have been rescheduled to April 8, 2020 at 9:00am in courtroom 403
    • Criminal Traffic Proceedings for March 17 at 1:30pm in courtroom 301 have been rescheduled to April 8, 2020 at 1:30pm in courtroom 403
    • Criminal Traffic Proceedings for March 18 at 9:00am in courtroom 301 have been rescheduled to April 9, 2020 at 9:00am in courtroom 403
    • Criminal Traffic Proceedings for March 18 at 1:30pm in courtroom 301 have been rescheduled to April 9, 2020 at 1:30pm in courtroom 403
  • Notice Regarding Felony Criminal Court Calendars/Hearings
    • Calendars set the week of March 16, 2020 and the week of March 23, 2020 have been passed for two (2) weeks. Attorneys should not come to court these two weeks.
    • Negotiated pleas (ONLY for time serve dispositions) for incarcerated defendants will be handled in J2 at noon. To have a case added for disposition, your request to add MUST be submitted to the duty Judge by noon the prior day.
    • All depositions at the State Attorney’s Office are suspended for these two weeks.
    • Emergency Hearings and Bond Motions – Please email the JA of the duty division to have case added to calendar. These hearing will be held in the courtroom designated by the duty judge and the Defendant will appear via video from the jail. Witnesses for bond hearings shall be limited to one live witness. Counsel may submit letters or affidavits in lieu of live witnesses.
  • Family Law Division Procedures
    • All hearings and non-jury trials shall be conducted by telephone or video conference.
    • Notices of hearing shall state the manner in which the hearing will be held (i.e. telephone or video conference) and shall provide all details, including clerk’s docket number of the matter (for ease of reference), phone numbers or websites necessary to allow lawyers, parties, and witnesses to participate.
  • Domestic Violence and Injunction Court Procedures
    • Judicial and court staff may be working remotely, so email is the preferred method of correspondence.
    • The Clerk’s Office will continue to accept petitions for injunctions for protection and will implement procedures to limit person-to-person contact during the application process.
    • Except those listed below as Priority Hearings, will be passed for a full hearing within four (4) weeks from date the temporary injunction is issued, and the temporary injunction will remain in full force and effect.
    • Many more details in Order.
  • County Court Guidelines
    • No inmates will be transported to the courthouse except as specifically authorized.
    • Misdemeanor Criminal First Appearances will be held every day at the normal time by audio/video communication.
    • All out of custody criminal traffic arraignment dates during this time will be rescheduled to a date at least thirty (30) days out.
    • All misdemeanor criminal traffic trials as well as civil traffic trials are suspended for the next two weeks, March 16,2020 through March 30,2020.
    • In civil matters, to the extent possible, hearings and trials will be conducted remotely (via telephone or video). This includes county civil, evictions, small claims matters and claims of exemption.
    • More details in Order.
  • Administrative Order Rescheduling Small Claims Conferences and Mediations for March 19, 2020
    • Pretrial Conference/Mediation for March 19 is rescheduled to April 28
  • Administrative Order Rescheduling Small Claims Conferences and Mediations for March 26, 2020
    • Pretrial Conference/Mediation for March 26 is rescheduled to May 5.
  • Foreclosure Division Administrative Order
    • Cases scheduled for the week of March 17 – March 20 are reset for the week of March 31 – April 3
    • Cases scheduled for the week of March 24 – March 27 are reset for the week of April 14 – April 17
    • The dates and times of the hearings in the new weeks shall be on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as they were of the cancelled weeks.

1st District Court of Appeal:

  • “Message to the Public”
    • The First District Court of Appeal has postponed or canceled all oral argument sessions scheduled through the end of April. The panel assigned to hear each affected case will determine whether to reschedule the oral argument or to decide the case without oral argument.

Northern District of Florida (Federal):

  • Administrative Order (March 12)
    • The undersigned has decided to suspend discovery, with the exception of written discovery, in all civil cases pending before her that are currently operating under a Final Scheduling Order, for 30 days.
    • No depositions (virtual or otherwise) will be required during this period.
    • All other deadlines, including deadlines for mediation and/or dispositive motions, are likewise tolled.
    • Be aware of the limits of this order.

Middle District of Florida (Federal):

  • Administrative Order (March 13)
    • Deals with people who might be sick or exposed to those who are/were exposed.

Other Florida Judicial Circuit Orders:

Due to the difficulty of navigating the aforementioned issues that will or may arise, combined with the ever changing rules relating the Courts, the necessity to hire expert legal counsel to navigate you through these waters and the necessity to stay calm and attempt to be as reasonable and rational as possible is important.

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We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will consult with you personally.  John represents clients in Florida, New York, the District of Columbia, Georgia and Alabama and before the U.S. Supreme Court with passion and compassion. Our firm handles a wide variety of injury and death cases, criminal defense, family law and a host of high profile matters. We can be emailed at or call us at (904) 444-4444 in Florida or (912) 444-4444 in Georgia.