Wednesday, September 2, 2020

FL Courts Largely Remain Closed

Even with a falling case trend of recent Covid-19 statistics, the courts around the state are in phased reopening status, a daily snapshot of which can be found at the link at the end of this update. The Supreme Court of Florida's evolving Emergency Procedures orders have focused on increasing the resolution of cases by shifting as many of them as possible into a virtual environment with remote technology, and specifically "Alternative Dispute Resolution proceedings." This is good news for parties and their counsel who can't get to a jury just yet. Remember, some 98% of cases settle before trial. A few circuits have engaged in the limited pilot program of remote trials with mixed reviews. At present, all courts remain at either Phase 1 or 2 in this continuing pandemic. As a reminder, Phase 1 means in -person contact is inadvisable, court facilities are effectively closed to the public, and in-person proceedings are rare. Phase 2 encompasses limited in-person contact is authorized for certain purposes and/or requires use of protective measures. Phase 3 states in-person contact is more broadly authorized and protective measures are relaxed. Finally, one day (hopefully next year) we will get to Phase 4 when COVID-19 no longer presents a significant risk to public health and safety. In the meantime, call your mediator and get those pending matters settled! See more here in this updated color-coded guide-- Court Phased Opening Status