Chief Justice issues new orders on Phase 3 pandemic procedures in the Florida state courts
Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady issued two new administrative orders on July 2, 2020, to 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.
The Chief Justice will review these and other COVID-19 orders as the pandemic emergency develops and will modify or extend them if needed. Statewide and local court emergency orders and advisories are available on the Florida Supreme Court’s website: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency