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Florida jury trials suspended until July

Jury Duty
Posted at 8:36 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 20:36:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida's Chief Justice issued a new emergency order Monday, suspending jury trials into early July statewide.

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.

The order especially focuses on increasing the resolution of cases by shifting as many of them as possible into a virtual environment with remote technology. In addition to work already required under an April 6 order, the amended list now adds the following:

  • Non-jury trials, except that all parties must agree to remote non-jury proceedings in criminal, juvenile delinquency, and termination of parental rights cases;
  • Alternate dispute resolution cases;
  • Status, case management, and pretrial conferences in all case types;
  • Non-evidentiary and evidentiary motion hearings in all case types;
  • Arraignments and pleas in absentia in county court misdemeanor cases;
  • Hearings in juvenile delinquency cases;
  • Hearings in noncriminal traffic infraction cases; and
  • Problem-solving court staffings, hearings, and wellness checks.

All state-court coronavirus emergency orders and advisories are linked on the Florida Supreme Court’s website: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency