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Circuit Criminal Division E Procedures

April 20, 2020 through May 29, 2020

Division E will observe the following temporary remedial measures pursuant to Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida Administrative Order S-2020-23:

  1. Time Period for Temporary Remedial Procedures.  Unless extended further, these procedures are in effect immediately, and will stay in effect through May 29, 2020.

  2. Hearings Previously Scheduled.  All previously scheduled trials and hearings have been continued to dates after May 29, 2020.  If you are unclear on the rescheduled date for any hearing or matter, please email Yari Ayala at

  3. Arraignments.  Division E will conduct virtual arraignment dockets.  In private counsel appearance cases, please file your notice of appearance and Plea of Not Guilty, if applicable.  The court will set the case for disposition after May 29, 2020.  Where no private appearance has been entered, the court will enter a written order appointing the Office of the Public Defender to represent the defendant, and will set the case for disposition after May 29, 2020.

  4. Weekly Motion Hearing Docket.  Division E will hold a weekly motion docket at 10:00 a.m. every Wednesday, beginning on April 22, 2020.
    1. Adding hearings.  If you would like to add a hearing to the weekly motion docket, please observe the following procedures:
      1. Please file and serve your motion before the close of business on the Monday immediately preceding the Wednesday motion docket.  For example, if you want to set a motion for hearing on the April 29th docket, please file and serve the motion by the close of business on Monday, April 27th.

      2. Once the motion is filed and served, please email Yari Ayala at and tell her what motion you are adding.  Please copy opposing counsel and Deputy Clerk Harmony Lacey (at on the email.  Please send the email by the close of business on the Monday immediately preceding the Wednesday hearing.

      3. The motion docket will close at noon on the Tuesday immediately preceding the Wednesday hearing.

    2. Attending hearings.  The weekly motion docket will be conducted via videoconference through Zoom.  Please do not attend the hearing in person.  Please instruct parties and witnesses not to attempt to attend the hearing in person.  Please note the following information about Zoom hearings:
      1. The hearing docket may be accessed through Zoom Meeting URL: and Meeting ID: 667 641 3743 at the time of hearing.  If you have any issues logging in or have any questions, please e-mail Yari Ayala at

      2. You must download the Zoom application to your device from prior to attending the hearing. 

      3. The hearing will be configured to allow early entrants.  The court will begin calling cases at 10:00 a.m.

      4. All participants will be muted until their case is called.  When your case is called, please un-mute your microphone and state your appearance.

      5. The hearings are open to the public and may be observed by anyone.  Accordingly, the Zoom link may be forwarded to any interested person.

    3. Nature of hearings.  The Court will hear motions that involve legal argument of 15 minutes or less per motion.  If you have a longer motion or one which requires testimony, please email that motion to Yari Ayala (at with a copy to the opposing party.  This email should explain how long a hearing is requested and whether it will involve testimony.  The Court will consider individual requests for longer and evidentiary hearings on a case by case basis.  Such motions might be scheduled on the regular Weekly Motion hearing docket, or a special set Zoom video hearing. 

  5. Agreed Orders.  If you confer with opposing counsel, and there is no opposition to the relief requested, please submit an agreed order through JAWS.  Please call the order “unopposed” or “stipulated” or “agreed,” or submit a short cover letter explaining that is the case, so that the court will know that a hearing is not necessary.

  6. Bond Motions without Hearing.  If you would like the court to consider a bond motion without evidence or hearing, please email a copy of the motion to Yari Ayala at:  Please state in the email that you are requesting the court rule on the motion without hearing.  The court will then direct the State to respond to the Motion in writing within 48 hours.  Shortly thereafter, the court will make a ruling and generate an Order based on the Motion, the State’s response, and the file. 
    If you would like a bond motion to be considered with hearing, please follow the procedures outlined in paragraph 4, above.  There is no ability to have an in-custody defendant appear by video for the weekly Zoom docket.  Accordingly, bond motion hearings must include a waiver of the defendant’s presence.  

  7. In-custody Defendants- Negotiated Plea Docket & Procedures   Please be aware that the Hillsborough County Jail is not transporting in-custody Defendants to the Courthouse during the closure period.  The negotiated plea dockets cover all lettered divisions and will be held during the week on Tuesday, Thursday and occasional Fridays  by one Judge in Courtroom 17.  If the Defendant is in custody, Defense counsel must confer with the Defendant in a private, confidential setting that allows for a meaningful question and answer session to confirm that the Defendant will waive his or her appearance at the plea hearing before seeking any relief.  This procedure to take pleas is limited at this time to negotiated, agreed upon sentences by the State and the in-custody Defendant.
    1. Adding a Case for a Negotiated Plea
      1. Download the 3 forms; Felony Plea Form (Bi-lingual), DNA Addendum to Plea Form and Waiver of Physical Presence in Court Addendum to Plea Form. [Available on the 13th Judicial web site  under FORMS:  CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  PLEA FORMS.]

      2. Attorneys are required by the terms of those forms to discuss each of them with the Defendant in a private, confidential setting that allows for meaningful question and answer discussions with the Defendant.

      3. Once the attorney has fully discussed ALL forms with the Defendant and obtained the Defendant’s permission for the attorney to sign those forms FOR him/her (or, he/she has a chance to sign them at or after the time of your video visitation,) the attorney will sign each form and upload each as a separate document via the E-Portal.
        The forms may be signed physically or with an electronic signature.
        Each individual case number requires each of the three forms be filed separately (i.e. for 2 felony cases, you would have 6 separate forms.)

      4. After all 3 forms have been signed and filed, contact Angela Freestone at the clerk’s office ( and copy and the case(s) will put them on the next available Felony Plea Docket and the clerk will let you know the date set. 
        DO NOT contact the individual division judicial assistant or judge to add these cases onto the docket.

    2. Attending Court for a Negotiated Plea
      1. The attorney will appear in the Courthouse Annex Courtroom 17 (video courtroom) on that hearing date for entry of the plea.  We are working on a procedure that will allow you to phone in or video in, but do not have those arrangements made at this time.
      2. The docket is limited in the number of pleas that can be accepted on the current schedule which is Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am with occasional Friday dockets.)  As a consequence of that limitation, if the Defendant is unsure about the process and/or indicates in any manner that he/she does not understand, nor has been given private time with you to discuss the offer and options, scoresheet, and plea and waivers of presence and DNA forms; the judge will likely stop the plea in progress and set it at a future date and time to ensure the record clearly indicates that the Defendant has a clear understanding of what is happening.
      3. For your convenience, below is the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office official policy disseminated to the courts and bar:

      Sheriff Chad Chronister is opening up the video visitation center to the private bar as the preferred method of contact with clients in the jail, in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus.  The new hours for visitation will be 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., seven days a week.  Members of the bar will be given priority access. The Sheriff is also ensuring that all equipment in the visitation center is regularly sanitized with disinfectants.  The visitation Center is located in the Falkenburg Road Jail at 520 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa, FL 33619. 

      The phone number is 813-247-8300.  Alternatively, attorneys can register for an account to be able to video conference remotely off site, for a small fee.  The link to register for an account is at: