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Procedures/Preferences

 

General Magistrate Jennifer Sarmiento's
Zoom Video Conference Access Information


As a result of COVID-19, there are limitations currently in place on in-person court appearances in the 13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Florida.  ALL parties scheduled before General Magistrate Jennifer Sarmiento shall appear via Zoom Video or Audio Teleconferencing until further notice.

Any party needing the services of an interpreter in a Family Law hearing before General Magistrate Jennifer Sarmiento will be required to provide their own interpreter

(Cualquier parte que necesite los servicios de un intérprete en una audiencia de derecho familiar antes del General Magistrado Jennifer Sarmiento deberá proporcionar su propio intérprete en cualquier audiencia de Zoom.)

ALL HEARINGS WILL BE DIGITALLY RECORDED, however, if an attorney or party wishes to utilize the services of their own court reporter, they will be required to provide all information necessary for the court reporter to attend the Zoom video conference/hearing.

SPECIAL NOTICE AND INSTRUCTIONS TO APPEAR BY ZOOM:

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, there are limitations currently in place on in-person court appearances in the 13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Florida.  ALL parties scheduled before General Magistrate Jennifer Sarmiento in Hillsborough County shall appear via Zoom Video or Audio Teleconferencing until further notice. General Magistrate Sarmiento will be the host of the Zoom proceeding.  There are no fees to attend by Zoom, it is free and easy to use!  

No person will be permitted inside the courthouse at this time.  This includes parties and attorneys.

In order to participate in the hearing by Zoom Video or Audio (Phone), please follow the instructions below:

OPTION #1:  TO APPEAR BY ZOOM VIDEO:

  1. You can DOWNLOAD the free Zoom App on your smartphone (ANDROID OR APPLE) or computer at https://www.zoom.us prior to your hearing date and time.  However, you are NOT REQUIRED TO DOWNLOAD the free Zoom App to attend!

  2. On the date and time of your hearing listed in the Notice of Hearing/Order, OPEN a web browser of your choice, then ENTER the following information to gain access into the hearing.  The Court’s Zoom link is https://zoom.us/j/2362124509 and Zoom Meeting ID is 236-212-4509.

  3. Once you connect, please WAIT to be checked in.  You will be placed in a “waiting room” and on mute or silent until your hearing begins.

OPTION #2:  TO APPEAR BY ZOOM AUDIO (PHONE):  NO CAMERA? No problem! The Zoom platform allows individuals to appear via telephone if they do not have an available camera.  On the date and time of your hearing, just CALL 1-786-635-1003 OR 1-470-250-9358. Then, ENTER the Court’s Meeting ID, 236-212-4509, to get into the hearing.  Once you connect, please WAIT as you will be placed on mute or silent until your hearing begins.

PROBLEMS CONNECTING TO YOUR HEARING?   If you have problems connecting to a hearing, immediately e-mail the General Magistrate's Assistant, Natalie Guerra, DURING YOUR HEARING TIME at natalie.guerra@fljud13.org for further instructions.

General Magistrate Sarmiento has enabled the "waiting room" feature on the Zoom platform.  Please understand that the Court is using the same credentials for multiple hearings and when you sign on you may join in the middle of another hearing.  Please keep your microphone muted until you are addressed or until it is time to join your hearing.  If you need to move around prior to your hearing, kindly stop your video feed until the hearing begins.

***PLEASE BE IN A QUIET ROOM OR AREA WHEN APPEARING FOR YOUR HEARING***

If you would like to have the Court consider any documents at your hearing, you must file the documents with the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court prior to your hearing AND provide those documents to the opposing party. To file documents, you may provide the documents by mail or through the e-portal. Your documents must contain your case number and instructions that they be filed in your case. For more information on the Hillsborough County Clerk’s address or hours of operation, please visit https://www.hillsclerk.com/. You may also electronically file the documents through the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal at https://www.myflcourtaccess.com/index.html. Regardless of the filing method used, the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court must receive your documents at least five (5) days prior to your hearing in order for the documents to be considered at the hearing.

PLEASE NOTE:  Any document filed in the court record becomes a public record, so it is your responsibility to redact any confidential or sensitive information prior to filing (e.g., SSN, bank account #, etc.).

SPECIAL RULES FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS:

  1. No later than 48 hours prior to the hearing, each party must provide to the Court, and the opposing side, copies of any exhibits, summaries, or case law to be used or referred during the hearing or offered into evidence. No additional documents or exhibits may be emailed to the General Magistrate during the course of the hearing.

  2. Any exhibits shall be pre-marked.

  3. All documents shall be submitted as a PDF file via email to natalie.guerra@fljud13.org.  In the subject line of the email, you must include the style of the case and the case number.

  4. Each exhibit shall be individually attached to an email as a SEPARATE PDF document.

  5. All confidential information shall be redacted by the individual submitting the proposed exhibit (including, but not limited to, information such as account numbers, SSN, dates of birth).

  6. All parties are responsible for securing the attendance of any witnesses they wish to call via Zoom, by providing those witnesses with any and all procedural requirements for attending a Zoom hearing listed herein, as well as the Zoom Meeting ID.

  7. All parties SHALL reserve and schedule sufficient time for the hearing to be concluded, while affording BOTH sides equal hearing time.  This means that if you believe you need 30 minutes to present your case, you must reserve 60 minutes for your hearing so that each party has an equal amount of time to present their respective cases.

The preferred form of communication for setting hearings or general inquiries is by email.

The Administrative Assistant CANNOT answer your legal questions and will not explain your situation to the General Magistrate.  You will have the opportunity to do so at your scheduled hearing.  If you need legal assistance you may visit the Legal Information Center located at 800 E. Twiggs St. Room 101 Tampa, FL 33602 You may call the office to obtain office hours by calling: (813) 864-2280.

For all cases all parties should review the current Administrative Order-Domestic Relations/Family Law information and procedures which can be accessed by clicking on the link and following the remainder tabs: www.fljud13.org

 Administrative Orders > Unified Family Court > Domestic Relations/Family Law

 

 

GENERAL COURTROOM CONDUCT AND BEHAVIOR

All Court proceedings shall be conducted with dignity, decorum, courtesy and civility.

The use of cellular telephones, pagers, iPods, video and voice recording devices, PDAs and other forms of electronic equipment are prohibited in the hearing rooms. All cellular telephones and pagers must be turned off prior to entering the hearing room. Failure to comply with this order may result in the initiation of contempt proceedings against you by the Court.

Children in Court: Pursuant to Rule 12.407, of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure: "No minor child shall be deposed or brought to a deposition, to court to appear as a witness or to attend a hearing, or be subpoenaed to appear at a hearing without the entry of a prior order of the court authorizing same, based on good cause shown unless in an emergency situation."

Contact with General Magistrate and Hearing Officers' offices. A party is authorized to contact the judicial officer's office by telephone or email on matters related to the Court's schedule and attendance in Court. The General Magistrate Administrate Assistant cannot give legal advice.

All requests to speak to the judicial officers on the telephone or have a private conference will be refused. Letters written to the judicial officers which offer or seek to discuss evidence in the case or attempt to influence the judicial officer's decisions in the case are strictly forbidden by ex parte rules governing verbal and written communication.

The role, function of, and limitations on General Magistrates is specifically described in Rule 12.490, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

The role, function of, and limitations on Child Support Hearing Officers is specifically described in Rule 12.491, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

 

EMERGENCY HEARINGS

If a matter is emergency, as defined by case law and the Circuit's Local Rules, then, by definition it is not appropriate for referral to General Magistrate it should be referred to the presiding Circuit Judge for processing and immediate action. If the Circuit Judge deems the issue not an emergency and refers it to a General Magistrate, it shall be set in the normal course.


HEARINGS

Scheduling:  Hearing times for the Magistrate are not available in JAWS. You must contact the office by email to obtain hearing dates and times from the assistant.

Please note any hearing greater than two hours requires an Order Setting Pre-Trial Final Hearing and Pre-Trial Conference (see Pre-Trial conference hearings below).

Contact General Magistrate Administrative Assistant for details (see Pre-Trial conference hearings below).

Order of Referral:  All matters must have an Order of Referral to the General Magistrate with the exception of cases that are limited to child support issues only. If you do not have an order of referral, the form can be obtained by clicking on the following link and following the instructions included the form:

Motion for Referral to General Magistrate: https://www.flcourts.org/content/download/403117/3457036/920a.pdf

Order of Referral to General Magistrate:

https://www.flcourts.org/content/download/403119/3457048/920b.pdf

 

Mediation Requirements: All issues with some exception MUST be mediated prior to the hearing. However, you may schedule a hearing with the Magistrate (for a date and time after mediation) before the mediation is held.

Notice of Hearing: The original of the Notice of Hearing before General Magistrate should be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court by either party at least 5 business days prior to the hearing Notice of Hearing Before General Magistrate .  A copy of the Notice of Hearing must be served upon opposing counsel/unrepresented party and a courtesy copy faxed to 813-301-3737 or delivered to the Magistrate’s mailbox, located on the fourth floor.  All notices of hearing must be consistent with the current administrative order for Domestic Relations/Family Law Cases.  All pleadings or motions seeking relief must be served on the party or counsel not less than five (5) business days prior to the hearing. If motions or pleadings are not timely served, the court may continue the hearing to a later date.  The Notice of Hearing form can be accessed by clicking on the following link: Notice of Hearing Before General Magistrate


HEARING CANCELLATION

Hearing(s)/Trial(s) greater than two hours:  All hearings scheduled for two (2) hours or more may not be canceled without approval of the court, after notice to all parties of record. 

Hearings less than 2 hours may be canceled upon 24 hours’ notice by the attorney or party scheduling them after notifying the opposing party or their counsel and the court. If a hearing needs to be cancelled, the party scheduling the hearing shall also file a Notice of Cancellation with the Clerk of Circuit Court and fax a copy to 813-301-3737.


PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE HEARINGS

All hearings scheduled for two hours or more require a pre-trial conference hearing and will be scheduled by order of the court. Said hearing may not be cancelled without prior approval of the court, after notice to all parties of record.

The party/attorney requesting the hearing should file with the Clerk an Order Setting Final Hearing and pretrial Conference order on Post Judgment Relief:

http://www.fljud13.org/Portals/0/Forms/pdfs/family/Final%20Hrg%20Pretrial%20Conf_postjud.pdf


PIGGYBACKING MOTIONS

There will be no cross-noticing of hearing time or “piggybacking” one motion upon a previously scheduled motion(s) without timely notice to the parties and the court.

No “piggybacked” motion(s) will be heard unless it is determined by the court that the docket will accommodate the hearing of the additional matter(s) at the scheduled time.


DISCOVERY MOTIONS

All motions to compel discovery, for compulsory physical examination, and to set case for trial must contain a certificate by the attorney filing such motion that the attorney has discussed the subject matter of the motion with the opposing counsel and has been unable to reach agreement concerning the disputed discovery of setting of the case for trial, or that opposing counsel has failed to respond.


MOTIONS FOR CONTINUANCE

Pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.545 (e) and Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.460, all motions for continuance must be signed by the litigant requesting the continuance as well as the litigant’s attorney, unless made at trial, or upon good cause shown.


TEMPORARY RELIEF MATTERS

 The party seeking temporary relief must first:

     1.   File with the clerk a motion using the uniform Motion for Temporary Relief which   

      may be accessed at:

      http://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/293/urlt/947c.pdf

      http://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/293/urlt/947a.pdf

2.   Attach to the motion a proposed temporary time-sharing plan if the case involves minor children.

http://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/293/urlt/995a.pdf

http://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/293/urlt/995b.pdf

3.   Attach, if not previously filed, a financial affidavit in compliance with Rule 12.285 (c) (1).

4.   File a notice of hearing reflecting the date and time obtained from the court.

5.   Serve a copy of the above documents on the opposing party; and serve on the opposing party/counsel, but do not file with the clerk, the documents required under Rule 12.285 (c) (2)-(4). Any temporary relief sought by the responding party may be asserted by cross-motion at that time.


HEARING PREREQUISITES OF RESPONDING PARTY

Within 10 days after being served with the Motion for Temporary Relief (15 days if service was made by mail), the party against whom the temporary relief was sought will file and serve a response to the motion stating what, if any, temporary relief the responding party contends is appropriate.  When applicable, the responding party will propose an alternate time-sharing plan.     


TEMPORARY RELIEF MEDIATION

Temporary relief matters must be mediated prior to being heard by the court. 


TEMPORARY ATTORNEY’S FEES

If the relief sought includes temporary attorney’s fees, the seeking party must file an attorney’s fee affidavit at least seven business days before the hearing. The attorney’s fee affidavit must set forth fees and costs to date and anticipated hours, fees, and costs reasonably expected to be incurred through the final hearing.


EXHIBITS AND TEMPORARY RELIEF MEMORANDUM

At least 72 hours prior to the scheduled temporary relief hearing, the parties shall exchange exhibits, file and serve a copy of the Temporary Relief Hearing memorandum using the uniform Temporary Relief Hearing memorandum which may be accessed at: http://www.fljud13.org/Portals/0/Forms/pdfs/family/TemporaryReliefMemorandum2.pdf 

Exhibits shall be pre-marked for identification and provided to the opposing party or counsel.  The parties shall further deliver a complete set of pre-marked exhibits along with an index to the Court no later than five (5) days before the final hearing.  Exhibits and evidence not clearly and timely disclosed may be excluded at hearing.


INTERPRETERS

It is not the obligation of the Court to furnish a translator in any family division proceedings. If a party or witness requires interpreter services, it is the responsibility of the party to provide a disinterested, Court certified interpreter at their expense.  The translator may not be a friend or family member.  Parties needing assistance may also contact the Court Interpreter Center at 813-272-5947 to obtain a list of certified interpreters.  Please be certain to make the appropriate arrangements in advance of hearing or non-jury trial.


ADA SERVICES

If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the ADA Coordinator, Hillsborough County Courthouse, 800 E. Twiggs St., Room 604, Tampa, Florida 33602, (813) 272-7040, at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving this notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711."


MOTION FOR TELEPHONIC HEARING

Telephonic Appearances are on a case by case basis. You will need to file a motion with the Clerk of Circuit Court (Pro Se by paper, mail or hand delivery). In the motion, it needs to state all parties’ position. The party appearing by telephone will need to have a licensed Notary present to administer the oath. The individual requesting to appear by phone will need to add their contact number into the proposed order.  See Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.451.


SKYPE HEARING REQUEST

‘Skype’ video conferencing technology is now available in our courtroom.  A party, attorney or a witness who lives over 100 miles from Tampa or a local witness or expert upon which both parties agree may appear by Skype may contact Magistrate Johnson’s Assistant to arrange for same.  You MUST inform the Assistant by e-mail of your desire to use Skype and the other party’s agreement to same. Attorneys or Self- Representing Individual's appearing by Skype MUST contact the Assistant at least 72 hours in advance of the hearing to arrange the set-up connection. Any Witness's that are appearing by Skype, please have the party set up your Skype appearance for you.


JAWS

Please do NOT upload order in JAWS for the Magistrate to sign.  The General Magistrate does NOT process orders using JAWS. If you are asked to prepare the proposed order, upon completion please e-mail the proposed order to the assistant in WORD format along with a cover letter.