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Ninth Circuit Issues New Administrative Orders for Orange County in Response to COVID-19

As of this writing, the Ninth Circuit has issued five administrative orders in response to COVID-19 in less than a week.

Administrative Order 2020-06-01 (3/20/2020; Retroactive to 3/16/2020) –Implements AOSC20-15 at a circuit level. Tracks definitions of “essential” and “critical” court proceedings. Directs that essential and critical court proceedings continue in-person, non-essential proceedings to be cancelled unless they can be effectively conducted remotely. Requires attorneys to appear in court as directed by presiding judge. Restricts courthouse access, except as permitted by the presiding judge. Authorizes media access to the courthouse subject to existing administrative orders governing media. Prohibits access to courthouse to anyone “exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19” or “who has knowingly been in contact with another person who is suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 virus.” Grants sheriff deputies at each courthouse authority to summarily “screen and eject” such persons. Cancels jury duty from 3/16/2020 – 4/17/2020. Cancels jury trials from 3/16/2020 – 4/17/2020. Wholesale cancellation of all civil dockets from 3/16/2020 – 4/17/2020.

Administrative Order 2020-07-02 (3/24/2020; Amended 3/25/2020; Amended 3/27/2020) – Addresses issues of importance in family law cases. Prohibits unreasonable restriction or denial of timesharing. Clarifies that summer timesharing schedule immediately begins if classes end early; addresses child exchange in the event schools close; addresses the effect of a shelter-in-place order on timesharing and custody; contemplates remote hearings for expedited or emergency motions; cautions that significant remedial measures may be imposed for unreasonable restriction or denial of timesharing. Allows meet and confer requirements to be fulfilled by telephone. Takes “judicial notice” of “the CDC recommendations and all Administrative Orders issued by the Supreme Court of Florida.” Tracks the language in 2020-06-01 and re-states its application to the family division. Likely a scrivener’s error, this Admin Order concludes by vacating itself. See ¶6(h).

Administrative Order 2020-08 (3/20/2020) – Suspends the requirement to attend a BIP class if required by a domestic violence final injunction judgment until 10 days after the courthouse re-opens. Does not address attendance requirements for other services (e.g. mental health evaluations), nor non-DV cases (such as requirements in paternity, divorce, dependency, specialty court, or criminal court cases).

Administrative Order 2020-09 (3/25/2020)  – Provides notice that violation of isolation, quarantine, or “any requirement adopted by the Department of Health pursuant to a declared public health emergency” constitutes a second degree misdemeanor under F.S. §381.00315. Establishes that a person so accused shall not be permitted to post bond by default, citing a 1943 case. Allows discretion to presiding judge to deviate. (Note that the defintion of “isolation” or “quarantine” in F.S. §§381.00315 may be different than its colloquial use in the media or local executive orders. In fact, the Orange County Emergency Executive Order No. 4 (3/24/2020) (sometimes colloquially referred to as a “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” order) does not use the term “isolation” or “quarantine,” but instead restricts “non-essential” travel and business.

Administrative Order 2020-10 (3/26/2020) – Addresses court-ordered visitation in dependency cases. Suspends all in-person visitation until 4/17/2020. Mandates remote visitation “to the maximum extent feasible,” video conferencing preferred, with visitation by telephone only when video conferencing is not feasible. Directs DCF and its agents to review all cases, file a status report on visitation arrangements within 15 days, and file status report in 3 days of any changes to the visitation schedule.

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