Earlier this month, five trial-court circuits across Florida were selected to conduct a remote trial technology test as a safer alternative to traditional in-person civil jury trials. Virtual civil jury trials allow the implementation of the coronavirus social distancing safety measures. Our Miami defense attorneys are here to provide you with the latest news.
Test locations include the following:
- Jacksonville’s Fourth Judicial Circuit comprising Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties.
- Daytona Beach’s Seventh Judicial Circuit comprising Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam, and Volusia Counties.
- Orlando’s Ninth Judicial Circuit comprising Orange and Osceola counties.
- Miami-Dade County’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit.
- Fort Myers’s Twentieth Judicial Circuit comprising Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee counties.
The five circuits were selected by the COVID-19 Workgroup, which is chaired by, Orlando area, Judge Lisa Taylor Munyon. A group created by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady in response to the coronavirus public health emergency. Canady, on March 13, suspended all jury trials around the state and has since been extended through July 2.
The COVID-19 Workgroup chose the circuits based on several factors, including their different approaches, geographic diversity, the local severity of the coronavirus infection, and the technological capacity within each of the trial courts. The first round of the pilot program will be tested exclusively on civil cases involving disputes among individuals rather than criminal cases. Criminal cases typically involve more complex issues of constitutional rights than civil trials.
A multitude of courts around the state are now expanding pandemic operations by enforcing limitations on in-person contact, as they work to meet public health criteria. Pandemic precautions approved by Canady include the use of remote technology, personal protection equipment, physical distancing, and staggered schedules for court events.
The move to virtual hearings is the first major historical shift in the 175 years since Florida became a state in 1845. Due to the resources necessary to initiate the test run, it is more than likely to become a long-term solution and not just one used in the short-term for the pandemic. The Workgroup will provide Canady suggestions for the long-term application of virtual civil jury trials. Response from prospective jurors will measure its success.
All state-court coronavirus emergency orders and advisories are linked on the Florida Supreme Court’s website: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency
If you are experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19 and cannot make obligatory payments, contact our expert Miami consumer defense attorneys at Graham Legal, P.A. to explore your options. Schedule your free consultation today.