COVID-19 Information

July 9, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.34

AO 11.34 Bradford County Transition to Phase 2, entered by Chief Judge Nilon, July 9, 2020. Bradford County will move into Phase 2 on July 13, 2020, and Alachua County will remain in Modified Phase 1 at this time. https://circuit8.org/wp-content/uploads/11.34-Bradford-County-Transition-to-Phase-2.pdf

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July 2, 2020 – Florida’s Chief Justice issued two new administrative orders that provide more detailed guidance on the four-phase system the state courts will use to govern pandemic operations, especially focusing on Phase 3.

Updated Administrative Order AOSC20-32. The first amended order revises AOSC20-32 originally issued on May 21, 2020. The July 2 amendments establish a certification process for moving to Phase 3 – the time when in-person contact is more broadly authorized and protective measures are relaxed.

That process requires local chief judges to monitor public health reports, consult health experts, and be certified for Phase 3 operations by the Chief Justice. No Florida state courts currently are operating in Phase 3, so the amendments will guide the process when conditions improve.

Updated Administrative Order AOSC20-23. The second amended order revises AOSC20-23 originally issued on April 6, 2020. The original order suspended certain kinds of legal deadlines due to the pandemic. The July 2 amendments update those suspensions to address the new Phase 3 guidelines.

On June 16, 2020, the state courts moved away from a blanket statewide suspension of certain court proceedings like jury trials in favor of a more flexible local approach controlled by local chief judges. This lets individual counties or judicial circuits loosen restrictions earlier if local pandemic conditions are less severe than elsewhere in the state.

The July 2 amended order also sets out new criteria for local courts to follow if local pandemic conditions worsen and they need to revert to Phase 1 – the period when local courts must conduct the majority of court proceedings using remote technology. The amendments are designed to make the process more orderly and minimize disruption.

The July 2 amended order also deletes a prior provision restricting enforcement of eviction proceedings, so that the issue now is controlled by the Governor’s statewide order. Under the Governor’s order, eviction proceedings are restricted until the start of August.

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July 1, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.33

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered AO 11.33 Procedures for Phase 2 Transition and Additional Modified Phase 1 Safety Precautions, entered by Chief Judge Nilon, July 1, 2020. https://circuit8.org/wp-content/uploads/11.33-Procedures-for-Phase-2-Transition-and-Additional-Modified-Phase-1-Safety-Precautions.pdf

The highlights of the AO are as follows:

  1. Baker, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union Counties will move into Phase 2 on Monday July 6th. Alachua and Bradford Counties will remain in Modified Phase 1 for now.
  2. Additional in-person court proceedings authorized to be conducted in Phase 2, are defined in the AO.
  3. Effective July 6, new safety precautions will be required in all courthouses, whether the county is in Modified Phase 1 or Phase 2. These new safety precautions, which are in addition to the measures already required in Modified Phase 1, are:
    a. Screening Questions – All persons entering into a courthouse, or court portion of a courthouse in regional counties, will be asked COVID screening questions. Any positive response will result in the person being denied entry and alternative arrangements made for the person’s court appearance. These questions will be indicated by signage at the entrance to each courthouse.
    b. Temperature Check – All persons entering a courthouse, or court portion of a courthouse in regional counties,  will have their temperature checked. Anyone with a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees will be denied entry and alternative arrangements made for the person’s court appearance.
    c. Face Masks – As clarified by the Supreme Court in AOSC20-32 Amendment 1, face coverings are required for everyone entering a courthouse, or court portion of a courthouse in regional counties, and must be worn at all times, by all persons, throughout the public areas of the courthouse, including the courtroom, with very limited exceptions.

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June 24, 2020 – *Important*

Due to recent developments, the Chief Judge has determined that all counties in the Eighth Circuit will remain in Modified Phase 1 at this time. The Chief will continue to monitor the situation with the hope that improving conditions will allow a July 6 transition to Phase 2. This decision will likely be made on Wednesday of next week.

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June 23, 2020 – *Important*

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has submitted the Covid Phase 2 Operational Plan to the Office of State Court Administrator, as required by Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order 20-32.

The Chief Judge is reviewing the medical data furnished by the Department of Health, consulting with medical health professionals throughout the circuit, and will establish by Administrative Order when each of the counties in the Eighth Judicial Circuit have met the Supreme Court’s benchmark criteria to move to Phase 2.

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June 17, 2020 – Florida’s Chief Justice issued two new administrative orders and a new “best practices” memorandum late June 16, 2020, adopting changes to guidelines for state court pandemic operations recommended by his COVID-19 Workgroup. They include a new provision letting individual counties or local trial-court circuits return to in-person jury trials at different times based on local conditions. 

Updated Administrative Order AOSC20-23. The first new administrative order updates one originally issued April 6, 2020, providing comprehensive guidelines for state court operations in the pandemic. As amended, it 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 order, local chief judges now can remove the suspension of jury trials locally 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. The second new administrative order updates one originally issued May 21, 2020, providing 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. The new memorandum updates one originally issued May 11, 2020, on “best practices” recommended for state court operations by the COVID-19 Workgroup. It 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.

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June 8, 2020 – Florida’s Chief Justice extends suspension of state jury trials to July 17 and amends guidelines for remote jury trial pilot program in the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a memorandum providing new guidelines for the state courts on a resumption of in-person court proceedings during the pandemic. He also amended two earlier orders about jury proceedings.

The first new amended order extends the current suspension of the statewide grand jury investigating school violence through July 26, 2020. It extends the current suspension of other jury proceedings including other grand juries, jury selection, and criminal and civil jury trials through July 17, 2020.

The second new amended order governs an ongoing remote civil jury trial pilot program. It requires trial-court circuits participating in the pilot program to report findings and recommendations by October 2, 2020.

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May 28, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.32

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.32 – Second Revised Corona Virus Pandemic Emergency Procedures. The Order provides for the circuit’s transition to a Modified Phase 1 operation beginning June 1, 2020.

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May 23, 2020 – *Important*

Please be advised that effective June 1, 2020, the following changes will take place regarding First Appearance.

  • Alachua County First Appearances will be conducted by the Alachua County Court Judges as set forth in the Eighth Circuit Master Calendar. There will no longer be an Essential Court Proceeding/Emergency docket to handle Circuit Court matters following First Appearance.
  • Alachua County Detention and Shelter Hearings will continue to heard on a rotating basis by the Circuit and County Court Judges assigned to the family and civil divisions.
  • Regional county first appearances will continue on the same daily rotation and with the same process in which we’ve been operating during the emergency period. The regional county court judge of the day will hear first appearance and shelters for all regional counties, as well as any DV return hearings for that county.

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May 18, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.31

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered AO 11.31 Extension of Administrative Order 11.29, Suspension of Certain Eviction and Mortgage Foreclosure Actions https://circuit8.org/eighth-judicial-circuit-court/administrative-orders/

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May 11, 2020 – Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady distributed “Best Practices” guidelines on May 11, 2020, that were developed by a statewide COVID-19 Workgroup to help people navigate new remote procedures used by state courts in the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines offer help not just to judges and court staff but also to people representing themselves in court during the public health crisis. They also will be useful to attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders in the justice system.

The guidelines cover the following topics:

  • Helping Pro Se Litigants with Remote Appearance Technology, which helps judges and court staff use remote technology when self-represented litigants are involved;
  • Representing Yourself and Using Remote Appearance Technology with the Courts, which helps self-represented litigants understand how remote hearings will work;
  • Management of Evidence in Remote Hearings in Civil and Family Cases, which helps judges, court staff, and attorneys manage evidence and witnesses in remote civil and family cases; and
  • Out-of-County Inmates, which helps judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and law enforcement agencies honor due-process requirements for out-of-county arrestees during the pandemic, including sample forms.

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May 4, 2020 – Florida’s Chief Justice Expands List of State Court Hearings That Will be Held by Remote Technology and Suspends In-person Jury Trials into early July.

Acting on the recommendations of a statewide Court Continuity Workgroup, Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a new emergency order May 4 increasing the list of proceedings state courts will accomplish by remote technology during the coronavirus pandemic.

It also extends the current suspension of jury trials in Florida until July 2. It makes corresponding changes to some legal deadlines by pushing them back until the Monday after the July 4 holiday weekend. In-person jury trials pose a special hazard because they can expose jurors and other courtroom participants to a risk of infection. Future extensions will be considered if needed.

For first-degree murder cases, the new order suspends until July 2 some requirements for in-person preliminary hearings and a requirement that defendants be automatically released from custody if prosecutors are unable to file charges within 40 days.

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April 21, 2020 – Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady Issues Administrative Order Creating a Work-group to Recommend Ways for a Staged Return to Full Court Operations

With Florida’s state courts now operating mostly through remote technology, Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a new administrative order April 21 creating a 17-member work-group to recommend ways for a staged return to full court operations as the course of the coronavirus pandemic changes in the months ahead. The work-group is charged with finding ways for courts to operate as fully as possible during each stage of the pandemic. www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency

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April 15, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.30

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.30 – Extending Bond Forfeiture Deadlines.

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April 13, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.29

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.29 – Suspension of Certain Eviction and Mortgage Foreclosure Actions, suspending activity by the Clerk of the Court in mortgage foreclosure actions and eviction actions brought for failure to pay rent.

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April 13, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.28

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.28 – Extending Emergency Procedures, extending until May 29, 2020 the emergency court procedures currently put in place by AO 11.25.

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April 13, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.27(2)

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.27 (version 2) – Emergency Procedures Relating to the Post Arrest Detention of Juveniles, clarifying the procedures set forth in AO 11.27 for juvenile who are taken into custody.

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April 9, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.27

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.27 – Emergency Procedures Relating to the Post Arrest Detention of Juveniles

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April 9, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Issues COVID-19 Emergency Order Extending Florida Bar Regulatory Deadlines Through May 29

Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a new administrative order April 9 modifying an earlier COVID-19 pandemic emergency order extending some deadlines contained in Florida Bar regulations. floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/633632/7199598/AOSC20-27.pdf

The new order extends deadlines through May 29, 2020, in some Bar regulatory procedures governing lawyer advertising and investigations of attorney misconduct. The Florida Bar regulates Florida’s legal profession under supervision of the Florida Supreme Court.

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April 7, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.26

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.26 – Suspending the Execution of all Writs of Bodily Attachment in Department of Revenue, Child Support Cases in the Eighth Circuit  

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April 6, 2020 – A Message From Eighth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Nilon Regarding Family Law Time Sharing Matters

As the Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, I have elected at this time NOT to enter an Administrative Order in Family Law cases regarding primarily time-sharing matters.  I have considered doing one as other circuits have, but, at this point in time, I have consciously chosen not to do so.  It is my thought that in our circuit and under my COVID-19 Administrative Orders that any TRUE emergency situations can be accommodated on a case by case basis by the presiding judge.  I have not entered an Administrative Order regarding visitation in Dependency cases for the same reason.  At this point, all of our judges have Zoom technology available to them if they find it necessary to conduct an emergency hearing in a family law case.

Of course, this pandemic is a fast moving and ever changing situation, so if circumstances change in the future to the extent I should reconsider this decision please let me know. I would be the first to admit I am not an expert in pandemics, and we are all struggling to do the best we can. Stay safe and encourage your families and staffs to stay safe in these strange times.

James P. Nilon

Chief Judge

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April 6, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Issues An Emergency Order Suspending Jury Trials in Florida and Extending Other State Legal Deadlines Through the End of May Due to The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Florida’s Chief Justice Canady issued an emergency order April 6 suspending jury trials in Florida and extending other state legal deadlines through the end of May due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/633282/7195631/AOSC20-23.pdf

The April 6 order 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.

All emergency measures previously established by the Supreme Court, as well as those established in the 8th Circuit by Chief Judge Nilon, will remain in effect until May 29, 2020.

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March 31, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Issues New Statewide COVID-19 Emergency Order Extending Court Language Interpreter Regulatory and Continuing Judicial Education Deadlines

To ensure that state courts have sufficient foreign language interpretation services, Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued a new administrative order on March 31, 2020, extending a number of regulatory deadlines for court interpreters during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Chief Justice Canady also issued a separate order March 31, 2020, extending the period of time in which Florida state judges must meet continuing education requirements. Court rules require judges to engage in continuing education and to report their training credits every three years. https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/632964/7191878/AOSC20-20.pdf

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March 30, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Issues New Statewide COVID-19 Emergency Order Extending Speedy Trial Deadlines in Traffic Infraction Cases

Florida’s Chief Justice issued a new administrative order on March 30 suspending speedy trial deadlines in noncriminal traffic infraction cases.

Under the new order, speedy trial deadlines for traffic fractions will be suspended at least through April 20, 2020, subject to further extensions that may be needed by the public health emergency. However, Florida judges also are allowed to conduct traffic infraction cases during the emergency using remote electronic means if possible. https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency 

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March 27, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Orders Emergency Procedures in Relation to Visitation for Children Under the Protective Supervision of The Department of Children and Families

Florida’s Chief Justice issued a new administrative order on March 27 imposing health-related limitations on court-ordered child and family visitation through April 17 for children under the protective supervision of the Department of Children and Families.

Under the new order, child and family visitation under circuit court orders entered under chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes will be conducted by video or other electronic means unless all parties agree that in-person visitation does not pose a health threat. floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/632718/7189517/AOSC20-18.pdf 

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March 26, 2020 – Emergency Court Calendar for the Period of March 30 – April 17 can be Found at Circuit8.org

Consistent with Administrative Order 11.25, the Eighth Circuit Emergency Court Calendar for the period of March 30 – April 17, can be found at Circuit8.org

Please note, this calendar does not include individual hearings conducted entirely remotely as allowed by the Administrative Order, or Alachua County Domestic Violence Hearings, which will continue to be held on Thursdays beginning at 8:30 am in the Family and Civil Justice Center, Courtroom 3C.

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March 26, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.25

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.25, Revised Corona Virus Pandemic (COVID-19) Emergency Procedures

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March 25, 2020 – The Court Reporting Department in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union Counties is Temporarily Closed to Walk-in Visitors

The Court Reporting Department in all counties is temporarily closed to walk-in visitors in response to the global outbreak of COVID-19.

To order a written transcript or CD, please visit the Ordering Transcripts section of our website, or call 352-384-3080 for assistance.

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March 25, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.24

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.24, COVID-19 – Weekend Jail Sentence Suspension

 

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March 24, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice has Directed the Extension of Emergency Measures

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice has directed the extension of emergency measures, including the suspension of jury trials, through April 17. Information will soon be available regarding changes in Eighth Circuit procedures beginning March 30. floridasupremecourt.org 

 

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March 23, 2020 – Self Represented Litigants Urged to Sign Up on Florida Courts e-Filing Portal

The Eighth Judicial Circuit encourages all self-represented litigants to register with the Florida Courts e-Filing Portal, a free service that allows parties to file documents and pleadings online, as well as receive electronic communications from the courts about their cases.

Registration is available at: www.myflcourtaccess.com/default.aspx  

The e-Filing Portal User Manual includes instructions for self-represented litigants. http://archive.flclerks.com/e-Filing_Authority/Resources/Manuals/Manuals_2019/Portal_E-Filer_User_Manual_December_2019.pdf 

Online training is available at:

For additional help, please visit the e-Filing help page at:www.myflcourtaccess.com/Help/HomePage.html

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March 20, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Suspends Deadlines in Lawyer Regulation Cases During COVID-19 Crisis

The Florida Supreme Court orders suspension of deadlines contained in Florida Bar regulations governing the state’s legal profession during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

floridasupremecourt.org/News-Media/Court-News/Court-Order-Bar-regulation-deadlines-suspended-due-to-COVID-emergency 

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March 19, 2020 – Emergency Orders Extended for at Least 3 Weeks

Per the Florida Supreme Court, all emergency orders previously issued will be extended for at least another three weeks.

To meet growing forecasts of the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court plans to release new emergency orders over the next days to further extend legal deadlines and to make other changes to court rules needed to meet the crisis.

 floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/632165/7183384/03-19-2020_Canady-Covid-Emergency.pdf

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March 18, 2020 – *Important* – AO 11.23

Chief Judge James P. Nilon has entered Administrative Order 11.23 – Corona Virus Pandemic (COVID-19) Emergency Procedures

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March 17, 2020 – Depositions in Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union County Courthouses are Canceled

Please be advised that Chief Judge James P. Nilon has directed that all depositions scheduled to take place in the Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, or Union County courthouses are canceled through March 27, 2020.

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March 16, 2020 – Emergency Directive #1

Pursuant to the authority granted by the Florida Supreme Court in AOSC20-13, Chief Judge Nilon has issued the following directives for the Eighth Judicial Circuit effective on March 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm and continuing through March 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm:

  1. All jury selection, jury trials, and grand jury proceedings are suspended.
  2. All county and circuit criminal court events are suspended, with the exception of first appearances, bond reduction hearings, in custody Change of Plea in which the release from incarceration of the Defendant is expected, and matters which the court determines to be urgent upon motion of a party.
  3. All hearings in the family, juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, county civil, circuit civil, probate, guardianship, mental health, and civil traffic divisions shall be conducted by electronic means or shall be continued, with the exception of juvenile detention hearings, shelter hearings, Domestic Violence Injunction hearings, and matters which the court determines to be urgent upon motion of a party.

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March 16, 2020 – Self Help Center Closed to Walk-In Visitors

The Self-Help Center is temporarily closed to walk-in visitors until further notice out of an abundance of caution in response to the global outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Self-Help services are still available, and we encourage you to call 352-548-3781 or email our Self-Help staff at selfhelp@circuit8.org with further procedural questions.

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March 13, 2020 – Juror Excusal

Amid the COVID-19 threat, the Courts of the 8th Circuit are advising citizens summonsed for jury duty who are ill to go to the Juror tab above, go to Jury Excusal, select your county of residence and follow the instructions for summonsed jurors who are experiencing symptoms of sickness. Those excused will be recalled for jury duty within the next 90 days.

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March 13, 2020 – Summonsed Jurors

Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, the Courts have called off jurors for Monday, March 16, 2020, and Monday, March 23, 2020. Summonsed jurors SHOULD NOT report.

At this time, all courthouses will continue to remain open.

Any changes in normal court operations will be posted on our website circuit8.org as well as @8CircuitFlorida.

The Florida Court Emergency Management Group will post regular updates at flcourts.org.