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Florida's 2nd Judicial Circuit to transition to video court hearings

Posted at 4:39 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 16:46:49-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida's 2nd Judicial Circuit has canceled all jury trials, grand jury hearings and juror summons for at least two weeks in all six counties it covers.

The 2nd Judicial Circuit is comprised state and county courts in Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla counties.

Specifically, the Second Judicial Circuit in and for Leon County has:

  • canceled all jury trials and juror summons for at least two weeks in all counties
  • canceled all grand juries for at least two weeks in all counties
  • canceled mass dockets in some courts, for example, in Leon County we have canceled felony dockets tomorrow and small claims court on Tuesday
  • halted all prisoner transport to and from the Leon County Detention Center or in and out of circuit to avoid risk of exposure
  • established special video court hearings with the aim of temporarily and significantly reducing inmate population in the Leon County Detention Center, while still assuring public safety, through video change of plea and bond hearings; the purpose of this reduction is to try to establish a jail isolation pod should any persons in custody test positive for COVID-19
  • begun transition to conducting most hearings by video, conference call or telephone circuit-wide
  • established a new video courtroom for use by persons in custody
  • prohibited hearings in chambers
  • canceled many court events that are not time sensitive or mandatory under the United States Constitution or Florida Statutes, for example, Teen Court and school tours of the courthouse
  • in coordination with Leon County, increased cleaning of public spaces in the Leon County Courthouse with specific emphasis on commonly touched surfaces such as handles, elevator buttons, chairs/benches, and restrooms
  • authorized some court staff to telework
  • provided two courtrooms for court events so the individuals still coming to court will have increased room for social distancing while awaiting and conducting hearings in courtrooms

Officials say they anticipate raking additional actions to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.