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Florida Supreme Court Issues New Emergency Administrative Orders in Response to COVID-19

As of this writing, the Florida Supreme Court has issued over seven emergency administrative orders in response to COVID-19 in less than two weeks. Among them include:

AOSC20-12 (3/11/2020) – Directs chief judges to take steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (e.g. implementing “social distancing” and sanitation procedures).

AOSC20-13 (3/13/2020) –Suspends as “non-essential” all grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, criminal and civil jury trials, and any deadlines associated with the constitutional right to speedy trial. Authorizes the chief judge of each judicial circuit to establish temporary procedures to use communication equipment to promote remote attendance at hearings “to the maximum extent feasible.”

AOSC20-14 (3/16/2020) – Requires all judicial employees to self-quarantine for 14 days after personal international travel. Employees that cannot work remotely must first use PTO, after which they are subject to unpaid mandatory furlough.

AOSC20-15 (3/17/2020) – Directs chief judges to conduct proceedings if “essential” and “critical.” Defines “essential” proceedings (e.g. bail hearings, injunction hearings, juvenile shelter hearings, civil commitment hearings under Baker Act and Marchman Act). Defines “critical” proceedings (e.g. proceedings related to violation of travel restrictions, curfew, and quarantine). Directs chief judges to cancel any “non-essential” proceedings that cannot be effectively remotely conducted. Allows “non-essential” proceedings if chief judge determines they can be effectively remotely conducted. Allows chief judge discretion to classify proceedings to be “essential” so long as not specifically identified in AOSC20-13 to be “non-essential.” Effective until 3/27/2020.

AOSC20-16 (3/18/2020) – Suspends any requirement that a notary be in the physical presence of a witness so long as the notary can see and hear the witness through video conferencing, subject to further order.

AOSC20-17 (3/24/2020) –  Extends directives in AOSC20-13 to 4/17/2020 (except speedy trial rights suspended to 4/20/2020). Recognizes and addresses detention and bail-related issues for persons arrested out-of-state on a Florida warrant who will not be transported and who will remain indefinitely incarcerated during COVID-19. Suspends execution of writs of possession to 4/17/2020.

AOSC20-18 – (3/27/2020) – Suspends in-person parent-child and sibling visitation in dependency cases. Provides for remote vistiation via video conference, and if not feasible, then by telephone, in lieu of in-person visitation.

AOSC20-23 Amend 2, entered 5/21/2020, (AOSC20-23 Amend. 1, entered 5/4/2020); (AOSC20-23, entered 4/6/2020) – Restates and extends prior orders until June 1, 2020 including suspension of all jury selection proceedings and grand juries; defines and mandates that essential and critical proceedings continue to be performed by circuit courts; cancels non-essential hearings unless they can be effectively remotely conducted and are not otherwise prohibited in prior orders; suspension of speedy trial rules for criminal matters and noncriminal traffic infractions; suspension of writs of execution in eviction cases; continues emergency changes to notarization and oath requirements; continues n-person parent-child and sibling visitation in dependency cases.

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