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News & Knowledge

Florida Supreme Court Issues New Guidance on Statewide Court Operations

June 17, 2020

By: Jennifer Dixon

On June 16, 2020, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued two new administrative orders and a new “best practices” memorandum adopting changes to guidelines for state court pandemic operations. Of note is a provision allowing circuits to independently return to in-person jury trials at different times based on local conditions. Beginning April 6, 2020, the state courts began operating in Phase 1 of the pandemic plan, which effectively closed  courthouses, and made in-person proceedings rare.

Updated Administrative Order AOSC20-23 now permits local variations in a return to jury proceedings and replaces an earlier blanket statewide suspension of jury trials through at least July 17. Under the amended order, local chief judges now can remove the suspension of jury trials 30 days after determining that the trial-court circuit or a county within the circuit has transitioned to Phase 2 operations.

Updated Administrative Order AOSC20-32 provides guidelines for state courts to move into Phase 2. As defined in the order, Phase 2 is when limited in-person contact is authorized for certain purposes in the state courts and may require protective measures. Phase 3 is when in-person contact is more broadly authorized in the state courts with more relaxed protective measures. Phase 4 is when COVID-19 no longer presents a significant risk to public health and safety in the state courts.

Updated “Best Practices” Memorandum includes new guidelines on jury management in the pandemic, a recommended priority for resuming civil and criminal jury trials once they are authorized, and management of trial evidence during remote pretrial hearings in criminal cases.

The Court’s COVID-19 Workgroup, created April 21, 2020, is charged in part with updating these guidelines continuously as pandemic conditions change and as new information about COVID-19 is developed by health authorities. It will continue to meet and advise the Chief Justice at least through December 31, 2020.

The foregoing orders and other emergency orders can be accessed from the Florida Supreme Court’s website.

For the latest COVID-19 updates and information, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center.

This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.

Jennifer R. Dixon is a pragmatic problem-solver. A shareholder in the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group and board certified in Appellate Law by the Florida Bar, she enjoys working closely with clients to determine the best solutions for their business or personal needs and strategizing how to achieve the best outcome possible.

An experienced and versatile civil litigator, Jennifer innately understands when an issue must be decided by a jury or a judge. She is also a certified mediator who recognizes when creative solutions can be used to effectively resolve a dispute on the parties’ terms. Whether in the courtroom or at the settlement table, Jennifer is a zealous advocate who works tirelessly on behalf of her clients.

Jennifer handles civil, family law, and probate appeals on behalf of litigants and amicus curiae, and she has successfully defended judgments and obtained reversals in both state and federal appellate courts. She is also experienced handling administrative appeals before the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

Acting as outside general counsel for several private enterprises, Jennifer regularly provides recommendations on issues related to risk assessment, litigation and compliance oversight, and contract administration. Her clients come from a wide variety of industries, including real estate, hospitality, construction, themed entertainment, healthcare and outdoor advertising.

Jennifer is also an experienced family and marital lawyer, frequently handling matters concerning divorce, child custody, support, and prenuptial agreements.

The depth and diversity of Jennifer’s legal experience affords her perspective in working with clients across all industries with varying legal needs.

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