Update on COVID-19's Effect on Florida Courts
The O’Hara Law Firm is open, up, and running. Like everyone else, we are monitoring the guidelines from health experts, and will continue our part to limit the spread of COVID-19. Over the last couple weeks, many of our employees have transitioned to working remotely from home.
As an office that is almost entirely “paperless” to begin with, our employees are able to work with the same efficiency at home as in the office. Some of our attorneys already worked full-time or part-time from home. With that said, we will continue to have a few employees in the office on a daily basis.
Here is a breakdown of the current facts regarding cancellations and postponements of court proceedings:
* In Duval County, Nassau County, and Clay County, all jury trials scheduled from March 16, 2020 through May 1, 2020 are postponed. All hearings in Duval County, Nassau County, and Clay County must be conducted via telephone or video for the foreseeable future.
* St. Johns County, following a mandate from the Florida Supreme Court, has postponed all court proceedings (jury trials, bench trials, hearings, etc.), except for “mission critical” proceedings, scheduled from now until 8:00 a.m. on April 6, 2020 (the Florida Supreme Court cancelled all such proceedings scheduled from now until March 27, 2020). None of the court proceedings in any of our active cases would qualify under the Florida Supreme Court’s definition of “mission critical.”
* In Orange and Osceola counties, all jury trials and in-person hearings are cancelled through April 17, 2020.
* In the Fifth Judicial Circuit, including Marion and Lake counties, all jury trials, non-essential hearings, and in-person hearings are cancelled through March 27, 2020.
* These postponements/cancellations do not apply to depositions, mediation, and other events that do not occur at the courthouse. They do not affect discovery or investigation, and do not affect most deadlines. They do not affect settlement demands or settlement negotiations.
We have been making decisions on whether to cancel or postpone depositions or mediations on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the circumstances, we can take depositions by videoconferencing software. All of this involves coordinating with the lawyers involved, our clients, insurers, and third parties (court reporters, videographers, etc.).
We anticipate that, at the very least, postponement of jury trials will continue statewide into the summer. We will continue to monitor developments, adjust any policies and procedures accordingly, and keep our clients informed.
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