Are the Courts in Florida Open During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

According to an amended version of an administrative order issued previously by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady, the Florida Supreme Court just extended the suspension of all criminal and civil jury trials, among other proceedings, from May 29 through July 2, 2020.

Although the courts remain open, the goal is too dramatically reduce the number of people reporting to the courthouses each day. Persons who do not have business in the court facilities are requested to refrain from coming into these buildings.

The administrative order, issued on May 4, extended the suspension of all time periods involving the speedy trial procedure from June 1 through July 6 for all criminal and juvenile court proceedings.

Read the amended order in its entirety here -

The amended order reiterates many of the past actions including the suspension of jury trials. The amended order also explains the types of proceedings that must continue despite the pandemic, such as bond hearings.

The amended order introduces a list of hearing types the chief justice says can be conducted remotely including:
  • Arraignments and pleas in absentia in county court misdemeanor cases;
  • Status, case management, and pretrial conferences in all case types;
  • Non-evidentiary and evidentiary motion hearings in all case types;
  • Hearings in noncriminal traffic infraction cases;
  • Hearings in juvenile delinquency cases;
  • Problem-solving court staffings, hearings, and wellness checks;
  • Non-jury trials in all case types, except for criminal, juvenile delinquency and termination of parental rights petitions in dependency cases unless the parties in an excepted case agree to the remote conduct of a non-jury trial; and
  • Alternative dispute resolution proceedings, also known as mediation.
When conducting these mission-critical proceedings, the courts are using attempting to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by using social distancing. The mission-critical hearings that must be heard in person include:
  • Proceedings related to a violation of quarantine or isolation, a violation of an order to limit travel, a violation of public or private building closures, and a violation of a curfew;
  • First appearance hearings, where a defendant appears before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest; 
  • Bond motions for individuals in custody; 
  • Criminal arraignments, where a defendant not in custody enters a plea, but only as necessary; 
  • Hearings on petitions for temporary injunctions relating to the safety of an individual;
  • Petitions by law enforcement agencies for risk-protection orders, where someone allegedly posing a threat to someone else or themselves risks losing temporary custody of their firearms;
  • Hearings on petitions for extraordinary writs as necessary to protect constitutional rights;
  • Hearings to determine whether an individual should be involuntary committed under the state’s Baker or Marchman acts;
  • Hearings on petitions for the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian;
  • Shelter hearings, when a judge has to decide whether to remove a child from the home; and
  • Detention hearings, where a judge has to decide whether a child should be held.

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