Jury trials to remain suspended until July, chief justice orders

An order issued Monday further encouraged court hearings to be conducted remotely to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019.
The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published May 4, 2020

Florida courtrooms won’t see jury trials until at least July.

In an order issued Monday, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady extended the suspension of trials to at least July 2 as part of continuing efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Canady’s order further encouraged the use of remote technology to conduct non-essential court hearings throughout the state. These include non-jury trials, status and pretrial hearings, non-evidentiary and evidentiary motion hearings, juvenile delinquency matters, non-criminal traffic infraction cases and problem-solving court matters.

The order also suspends requirements for in-person preliminary hearings and a rule that defendants be automatically released from custody in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors are unable to file charges within 40 days.

The order embodies the first set of recommendations from a work group of judges and lawyers whom Canady assembled last month with the aim of developing a phased return to full court operations.

Most in-person court matters were put on hold statewide amid the arrival of the pandemic. Since then, judges have grappled with how to keep cases moving through video and telephonic hearings while also pondering ways to eventually return to having jury trials. The public health precautions are expected to create a backlog of cases.

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