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You are here: Judicial Directory > Thomas N. Palermo > Procedures/Preferences

Procedures/Preferences

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
(COVID-19)

Pursuant to Administrative Order S-2021-008 (Temporary Suspension of Jury Trials and In-Person Court Proceedings During the COVID-19 Pandemic), the following docket protocol is in place:

NO IN-PERSON PROCEEDINGS ARE PERMITTED UNDER A.O. S-2021-008 UNTIL MARCH 1, 2021, UNLESS THE MORATORIUM ON IN-PERSON PROCEEDINGS IS EXTENDED BY FURTHER ORDER OF THE CHIEF JUDGE. See A.O. S-2021-008, § 9 at 7 (Jan. 5, 2021).

Under normal Phase II operations, only adjudicatory hearings are permitted in-person and then only as determined by the judge presiding over the Division. DO NOT APPEAR IN-PERSON unless expressly ordered to so appear.

  1. Prompt Access to this Court
  2.  

    If counsel determines that a matter needs to be heard and the matter is not an adjudicatory hearing, disposition, or violation of probation hearing:

     

    Counsel should email a copy of any motion to the Division email address (JuvDelDivF@fljud13.org), sending a courtesy copy to Judicial Assistant, Kimberly Barnes (Kimberly.barnes@fljud13.org) and to opposing counsel and any other counsel on the case and, in the email, please request a court date. If it is an emergency matter, please call chambers (813-276-2338) to alert the Court.

     

    Counsel and opposing counsel should advise when they would be available for the hearing and how long the hearing will take. The hearing will likely be set promptly, that is, potentially the same day the request is made or within 24 hours. The Court will also notify a Court Reporter and Deputy Clerk of Court for the hearing.

     

    Access to the Court remains a critical priority. This Court is open but hearings shall be conducted in virtual court. These hearings will likely be conducted through remote video service platforms (e.g., Zoom).

     

    There are no specific days of the week set aside for these hearings. The only express conflict is the juvenile detention docket (9 a.m.) on the weeks assigned to Division F.

     

  3. Virtual Courtroom
  4.  

    Attending Hearings:  Except for the detention docket (which occurs in its own virtual courtroom), parties shall only attend court through Zoom unless otherwise expressly ordered by the Court.  PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ATTEND COURT IN PERSON.  Please note the following information about Juvenile Delinquency Division F Zoom virtual courtroom:

     

    Zoom access link:  You may access the virtual courtroom through the following link: https://zoom.us/j/4318030694

     

    Zoom meeting ID:  The Virtual Courtroom Zoom meeting ID is 431 803 0694.

     

    Zoom Application:  You must download the Zoom application to your device from Zoom.us prior to Court in order to join the proceedings.

     

    Public access:  Please note all court hearings are open to the public and may be observed by anyone.  However, all persons will be muted and not broadcasting video except for the parties involved in the hearing being held.

     

    If the case currently being called is not your case, TURN YOUR CAMERA OFF AND HAVE YOUR MICROPHONE ON MUTE. Do not unmute your device unless the case being called is one in which you are involved.

     

    Virtual Court is court. The same laws, procedures, rules, and ethical considerations apply in virtual court as in physical court. Other than the technical mechanism through which Court is joined, it is the same as any other Court proceeding. That being said, the technical requirements carry an additional burden for counsel:

     

    Special Responsibility of Counsel

    COUNSEL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT THEIR WITNESSES, CHILDREN, AND PARENTS KNOW HOW TO USE THE TECHNOLOGY AND ARE SET UP AND READY FOR EACH OF THE HEARINGS. Everyone should be on Zoom, that is, present, and ready to proceed, that is, prepared, at the designated date and time for the hearing. Please do not be late or unprepared.

     

  5. Virtual Court Admonitions

  6. The following is a guide to assist in preparing to appear for virtual court:

    1. Remember that you are in a virtual courtroom. You should remain seated in one quiet space. Court is a formal place. Please do not engage in other activities, including but not limited to eating, smoking, or vaping.

    2. Please ensure that you have sufficient connectivity. Ideally, you should be signed in through a network—either wirelessly or by hard connection—and not connecting solely through a cellular network. If you are connecting solely through a cellular network, please ensure that your connection is strong and that the speed of the connection is sufficient to give you high quality video and audio and to broadcast into the courtroom the same.

    3. If you are under oath, remember that any false statements made subject you to prosecution for perjury or obstruction of justice. Being in virtual court does not change the requirement to tell the full and complete truth.

    4. If you have any other electronic devices with you (e.g., a phone or computer), please turn them off. Do not let them distract you from the court proceeding.

    5. Please ensure that you are, if possible, alone. If anyone walks in during the proceeding, please be prepared to identify them for the record.

    6. Please do not use a virtual background. The Court should be able to see and hear you clearly and see where you are seated.

    7. If you are testifying and while you are testifying, please do not communicate with anyone else, including by talking to them, texting, or emailing.

    8. If you are testifying and while you are testifying, please do not look at any documents—physical or electronic—unless the Court gives you prior permission. That includes any notes or reports you may have that relate to your testimony.

    9. If you are testifying and while you are testifying, you may hear attorneys object to something you say. If you hear an objection, please wait for the Court to rule before continuing with your answer.

    10. If you have any technological issue—if you cannot hear or see something—please let me know immediately. If you cannot communicate any other way, please make a “T” for timeout with your hands, holding them in front of the screen, until the Court acknowledges your signal. You may also use the chat function, sending a message to everyone at the same time, indicating you are having a technical issue.

    11. Please be patient and courteous during the course of the hearing.

     

  7. Special Court Procedures

    1. Arraignments
    2. The Court is waiving the appearance of juveniles and their parents at arraignments, unless otherwise expressly ordered to appear. This procedure will remain in-place until March 1, 2021. Arraignments are being consolidated into the global status dockets.

       

    3. Changes of Plea
    4. Counsel shall upload fully executed plea forms to the Court’s queue as proposed orders prior to the start of the change of plea hearing. The Court will review the plea forms with the juveniles, parents, and attorneys through a shared screen on Zoom.

       

    5. Competency
    6. If competency is raised and an order for an evaluation issued, the Court will place the case on a special competency status docket until competency is determined.  

      Evaluations should continue, either in-person or by Zoom or by other means as directed.

       

    7. Status Conferences
    8. The current COVID global status docket will continue as ordered. The dockets are global in that all open, pending cases are being consolidated into one docket.

       

      Among other things, all parties must be prepared to address the following at the status dockets:

      1. Notwithstanding any objection to the case being tried through the use of Zoom, are there any technical barriers to trying the case by Zoom? Defense counsel must be prepared to address whether their clients and their parents have the physical ability to appear by Zoom and what accommodations, if any, the Court would need to make to ensure the process functions. Please speak to your clients before the status docket and check with them before the status docket
      2.      

         

      3. Is the case ready for trial or to be set for a different hearing, e.g., change of plea?
      4.  

      5. How long will it take to try?
      6.  

      7. Are there any special issues in the case about which the Court needs to be made aware?

    9. Adjudicatory Hearings
    10. Adjudicatory hearings that can be conducted by Zoom will be. All of the Court’s current Zoom-based procedures for the adjudicatory hearings remain in effect.

      Cases that this Court determines can only be conducted in-person will be reset for a status conference to manage the progress of the cases until such time as the cases can be properly set for an adjudicatory hearing.

       

    11. Violations of Probation
    12. All violations of probation remain set as previously directed.

       

    13. Dispositions
    14. All previously set dispositions remain as set unless the Court orders a new date for the dispositions.

       

    15. Walker Plans
    16. All Walker Plans remain set as previously directed.

       

  8. Conclusion
  9. The Court recognizes these are trying times. COVID remains a factor in court operations that is beyond this Court’s ability to control. The technology may not always work perfectly. The reality is that we are all in this together and we will get through it together. Please give it your best and expect that the Court will do the same.


  January 11, 2021
/s/ Thomas N. Palermo
Thomas N. Palermo
Circuit Court Judge
Juvenile Delinquency Division F