The Eighth Judicial Circuit has entered Corona Virus Pandemic (COVID-19) Emergency procedures. You can review the most recent Administrative Order entered by Chief Judge Nilon here. Routine hearings may continue to take place if they are conducted entirely remotely, using telephonic or other electronic means, with no in-person appearances by parties, attorneys, clerks, court reporters, or any other individuals.
Our Circuit has adopted the Zoom platform to conduct remote hearings. As the court is hosting the hearing, there is no cost to any participant. You will need a computer with a web cam and microphone (preferred) or a tablet or smartphone with Internet access the Zoom application. You can download the application and register for a free account at www.zoom.us.
The Zoom guidelines described below are general guidelines for the parties to follow in the event that no specific guidelines are provided by the presiding judge. However, the presiding judge may have different or additional guidelines when conducting Zoom hearings. Therefore, the parties should check the “Divisional Instructions” tab of the web page of the judge presiding over their hearing to verify whether these general guidelines apply or whether the assigned judge has more specific Zoom requirements that should be followed in your case.
Scheduling a Hearing:
- Any party who objects to the hearing being conducted by Zoom must file an objection with the court and show good cause why the hearing should not proceed via remote hearing.
- Email the Judicial Assistant to the assigned Judge or Magistrate to schedule your hearing. You will need to provide the case number, subject of the hearing, amount of time requested, and the names and email addresses of all attorneys (or pro se parties if unrepresented) who will be participating. Please do not call the office as staff may be working remotely.
- Once a hearing time is scheduled, you will receive information for your Zoom hearing. All parties should use the link to join the hearing prior to the start time. Participants may be entered into a virtual waiting room, and they will be brought into the hearing when their case is called.
- All participants shall enter their full name, when prompted. Participants may be entered into a virtual waiting room, and they will be brought into the hearing when their case is called. Due to high call volume, please expect delays and remain on the line until your case is called.
- Parties not represented by counsel should use the Florida Courts e-Filing Portal for filing documents and complete the authorization for service via email.
Presentation of Evidence and Witnesses:
- If you intend to present any evidence or documents to the court, you must pre-mark all items for identification and serve a copy to all parties using the e-portal no less than three (3) business days prior to the hearing. If possible, please send all documents in a single submission. Any exhibits which cannot be filed through the e-portal should be emailed as a PDF to the judicial assistant. If there are any pro se parties involved in your case, a copy of the pre-marked evidence shall be served on them, via US Mail, no later than ten (10) days prior to the hearing.
- Please confer with all parties prior to the hearing to determine any stipulations as to the admission of evidence and documents.
Appearance of Witnesses and Parties:
- The attorney or party requesting that third parties attend the hearing will be responsible for sharing the Zoom hearing information with that third party and for making arrangements for their appearance. This includes witnesses, court reporters, etc. The court will not be able to call parties to include them in the hearing. The Zoom hearing information shall be provided only to third parties who are anticipated to participate in the hearing and shall not be publicly published.
- You will need to provide the court with a list of people who are expected to participate in the hearing no less than three (3) business days prior to the hearing.
- All non-represented parties and any witnesses must file a copy of their driver’s license or photo ID no less than 48-hours prior to the hearing for identification purposes. You may redact all but the last four digits of the driver’s license and the month and day (but not year of birth). Please have the same ID available at the time of the hearing.
Decorum and Attire:
- Although the hearing is being conducted virtually, proper courtroom decorum should be maintained. Participants should be in a quiet setting and minimize any external distractions. Be aware of what is behind you and choose a solid neutral wall, if possible. Please dress like you are coming to the courthouse.
Tips for Success:
- For the best audio quality, consider using headphones and a microphone. A pair of headphones with a built-in microphone, like the ones that came with your smartphone, work well. If you are participating via a phone or tablet, please keep the device still. Avoid walking around or moving excessively while the hearing is in progress.
- To limit background noise, mute your microphone when you are not speaking. Don’t forget to unmute your microphone prior to speaking.
- A strong internet connection is helpful, wired connections are more reliable than wireless. If you are sharing your internet connection with others, please ask them limit high-bandwidth activities, such as video streaming, while you are in the hearing.
- Prior to your hearing, it is strongly recommended that participants sign up for a free Zoom account and become comfortable with the platform and how to use it. There are several tutorials available online.
- Preparation and communication are the keys to a successful remote hearing. Counsel should communicate with each other prior to the hearing and attempt to resolve as many issues as possible outside of court