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To stem coronavirus spread, Florida chief justice limits court-ordered visits

An order issued Friday says court-ordered visits between families must occur via video or telephone unless the parties agree there is no health threat.
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee.
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Mar. 27, 2020

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All court-ordered family and child visits under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families will occur via telephone or video, according to a Supreme Court order issued Friday.

Chief Justice Charles Canady issued the order limiting in-person court-ordered visits in another effort to stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The order applies to all visitation ordered in trial courts statewide between parents, siblings, other family members or non-relatives.

Visits must occur via electronic means unless all parties agree that in-person contact poses no health threat, according to the order. Parties can ask the individual trial judge to reinstate in-person visits.

In another order issued Friday, the chief justice appointed 44 judges from each of the state’s judicial circuits to statewide duty to resolve cases in which criminal defendants are being held outside the jurisdiction where they are accused of crimes.

The orders are among several emergency measures the chief justice has taken in recent weeks in response to the public health emergency. Other measures have included the suspension of jury trials and other court proceedings statewide and the extension of speedy trial deadlines.

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