September 21, 2020
On Friday, September 18, a six-member jury delivered a verdict in the first criminal jury trial to take place in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit since March.
Circuit Judge Charles Roberts presided over the felony trial at the Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center in Sarasota County. The jury was selected on Wednesday afternoon from a panel of 30 prospective jurors who answered the call for jury service. Eight witnesses testified over the course of the two-day trial, including one appearing remotely over Zoom. The jury reached a verdict Friday afternoon.
Several features of the trial that did not resemble pre-pandemic jury trials included face masks, social distancing and the regular cleaning of surfaces and microphones after each use. Additional information regarding the court’s health screening protocols and cleaning measures can be found on our COVID-19 News Page.
The success of the first jury trial was a result of the combined efforts of judges and the staff of Court Administration, the Sarasota County Clerk of Court, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Sarasota County Administration. Each of these offices played an integral role in ensuring the health and safety of the jury and all who enter our court facilities.
Jury trials are scheduled in Sarasota and Manatee County this week, and will resume in Venice and DeSoto County in October.
September 8, 2020
Desoto County is transitioning to Phase 2 on Tuesday, September 8. The same health screening protocols and face mask requirements as in the other counties apply in Desoto as well.
Court operations in Bradenton, Sarasota, and Venice transitioned from Phase 1 to Phase 2 on August 17.
Phase 2 looks a lot like Phase 1 with limited in-person hearings, and we’ll still require the use of face coverings, health screening questions, and fever checks, but it was a BIG step forward in our return to normal operations.
Another big step is that the Clerk's Offices in Manatee and Sarasota counties have issued jury summonses for September. The right to a jury trial is guaranteed by the consitution, but we also need to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. Please watch this video on the significance of jury duty during a public health crisis.
Until we transition to Phase 3 we must continue to hold most hearings by video and/or phone conferencing. If the hearing can't be held remotely it will be continued.
As we work to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must limit only those with official court business, a scheduled hearing or appointment to enter court buildings. Please do not bring anyone with you to court, because they may not be able to enter the building with you.
TIMEFRAMES EXTENDED ON FORECLOSURES/EVICTONS
Last night, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-211 extending the timeframes of EO 20-94 regarding mortgage foreclosures and evictions until October 1, 2020.
It is not necessary for Chief Judge Bonner to enter a new local administrative order extending the date through October 1, because AO 2020-15b.1 included language that stated if the governor amends, changes or alters the timeframes in Executive Order 20-94, (as extended by EO 20-121, 20-137, and 20-180) that the timeframes set forth will extend without further order from the court.