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Virtual Jury Trials Being Tested in Orange and Osceola Counties

June 08, 2020

In Florida, jury trials have been suspended since March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While non-jury trials, may go forward, the courts have been careful in how they resume jury trials. Although constitutional limitations make it difficult to hold criminal proceedings remotely, the same is not true for civil proceedings.

On May 21, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court established a Remote Civil Jury Trial Pilot Program in Administrative Order AOSC20-31. Under the provisions of that Administrative Order, the Ninth Judicial Circuit was selected as one of only five (5) sites in the State for the Remote Civil Jury Trial Pilot Project.

As part of that Pilot Program, the Ninth Judicial Circuit is now seeking civil jury cases that meet the following five (5) criteria:

  1. Two (2) parties only;
  2. In-person jury selection may be accomplished in two (2) hours or less for each party; 
  3. The evidentiary portion of trial can be completed remotely in less than two (2) days via Zoom, Teams or WebEx (instruction, closings and deliberations to occur in person); 
  4. The case is ready for trial in July 2020; and, 
  5. Both parties consent to a remote trial in the pilot project and waive any appellate issue as to the manner in which the case was tried. 

The Administrative Order requires that the remote civil jury trials be completed in the month of July 2020 so the results, findings and recommendations can be reported to the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court by July 31, 2020. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ninth Judicial Circuit remained open and conducted most of its proceedings by videoconference or conference call.

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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.

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.

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