Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Keeping Coronavirus Out of the Courts: Chief Justice Extends Emergency Order Through May

Tallahassee, FL – Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a new emergency order April 6 suspending jury trials in Florida and extending other state legal deadlines through the end of May because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This action lengthens a prior order that had set the ending date for emergency pandemic court procedures at mid-April.

The Chief Justice's Administrative Order AOSC20-23 combines provisions of several previous administrative orders into a single document. It emphasizes the need for courts to continue applying social distancing and to use remote technology to help keep people safe while also honoring legal requirements. Among other things, the April 6 order does the following:

• Suspends all jury selection proceedings and grand juries.

• Lists other essential and critical proceedings that state courts must continue to perform with appropriate health safeguards, while limiting hearings in other cases.

• Suspends speedy trial rules for criminal matters and noncriminal traffic infractions.

•Suspends a rule requiring clerks of court to immediately issue paperwork to sheriffs when a final judgment is made in eviction cases.

• Extends emergency changes to notarization and oath requirements.

• Extends health-related limits on court-ordered family visitation involving children in the custody of the Florida Department of Children & Families, including allowing visitation by remote electronic means in some instances.

The Court reported that the Chief Justice will review this and other COVID-19 orders as the pandemic emergency develops and will extend them for longer periods if needed.

This and other emergency orders and advisories are linked on the Florida Supreme Court’s website.

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