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Florida Supreme Court Extends Suspension of all Trial Proceedings and Implements Emergency Measures

March 27, 2020

By: Richard Dellinger & Brian Lawrence

On Tuesday, March 25, 2020, Chief Justice Charles Canady entered Administrative Order No. AOSC20-17 which consolidates the Supreme Court’s prior orders and implements additional emergency measures. The Order is intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, while simultaneously allowing for essential proceedings to move forward. The order provides as follows:

  • All grand jury proceedings, jury selections, and criminal and civil jury trials are suspended through Friday, April 17, 2020, with limited exceptions subject to approval by the chief judge of the judicial circuit.
  • With regard to in person hearings, the Courts may only hear “essential proceedings and proceedings critical to the state or emergency or public health emergency.” All other in person proceedings are to be cancelled or postponed.
  • Proceedings other than essential and critical proceedings may be heard before April 17, 2020 if the chief judge of that circuit determines that the court proceedings can be effectively conducted remotely without the necessity of in-court appearances.
  • With regard to foreclosures and evictions, the requirement that clerks of court issue writs of possession “forthwith” has been suspended through April 17, 2020. In light of the ongoing pandemic, many sheriffs were unwilling to execute such writs. As a result of this order, no writs will be issued or delivered before April 17, 2020. This will result in delays in both foreclosure and eviction proceedings.
  • The notarization requirement for family law forms is suspended through April 17, 2020 provided that the declarant includes an attestation in the manner set forth in the order.
  • Through April 17, 2020, depositions and other forms of sworn testimony may be taken remotely. The requirement of having the notary in the physical presence of the witness has been suspended, and it is sufficient for notaries or other qualified persons to see and hear witnesses via audio-video communications.
  • The chief judges are directed to “take all possible steps to facilitate conducting proceedings with the use of technology.”
In the wake of the pandemic, many court proceedings are now taking place via Courtcall, conference call, Zoom videoconference or WebEx. Depositions are being held by video conference and mediations are being held by Zoom video, or continued.

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Richard Dellinger is an AV-rated litigation attorney with over two decades of experience. His practice includes complex litigation, civil litigation, commercial litigation, business litigation, intellectual property litigation, significant dissolution of marriage and probate and trust litigation. 

Richard has handled legal matters for medical companies, software companies, technology companies, government contracting firms, real estate developers and other local and national businesses. He has broad trial experience, jury and non-jury, in state and federal court, having tried cases to verdict as lead trial and associate counsel.

In addition to serving as lead counsel, he frequently serves as local counsel for out of state law firms engaged in litigation in Florida.

Richard is the past President of the 3500+-member Orange County Bar Association and is Past President of the Federal Bar Association, Orlando Chapter, the Orange County Bar Foundation, and the Orange County Bar Legal Aid Society.


Brian Lawrence concentrates his practice on complex litigation arising from commercial transactions, partnership disputes, trust and probate disputes and intellectual property matters.

Brian regularly advises national and local clients on matters pertaining to restrictive covenants, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. He has successfully defended and prosecuted lawsuits on behalf of national and local corporations and limited liability companies, sports teams, athletes and other public figures.

A member of the firm's Data Governance Group, Brian has significant experience evaluating complex security incidents and advising clients of their obligations under federal and state data security and privacy regulations. He has handled cybersecurity incident responses and data privacy matters impacting all 50 states and internationally.

Brian is as committed to serving the Central Florida community as he is to his practice. He is actively involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, as both a big brother and a member of the executive board. He also serves as a guardian ad litem and provides pro bono services to professional guardianship organizations in Central Florida. Additionally, Brian is on the board of the Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association, which supports local charitable endeavors and serves underprivileged youth.

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