B Divisional Instructions

(Modified as of May 21, 2020.)

The following changes to Division Guidelines will remain in effect while Mitigating Measures are required.

Until further notice, non-essential hearings will be conducted as follows:

The Court will serve as host of the hearings.

The hearing requires you and your client to appear, either together or separately, using a computer or smartphone with audio and video capability. You will be placed in a virtual waiting room until your case is called. You are required, prior to the hearing, to speak to your client and the assistant state attorney about what you would like the outcome of the hearing to be as there is limited time during the hearing to have any discussion.

If an agreement has not been reached by you and the assistant state attorney, then your case will be set for Calendar Call unless speedy trial is or has been waived.

Send to wrivera@pbcgov.org the email address that you want the Court to use to send you the Zoom invite.  After providing this Zoom invite to you, you are to provide it to your client if you want your client to appear. The Court will not arrange for defendants to appear via Zoom; that is the responsibility of the attorney.

  1. All attorneys shall be familiar with the Orders Regarding Mitigating Measures issued by the Florida Supreme Court and 15th Judicial Circuit (hereinafter Orders).

    It is the intent of this Division to comply fully with these applicable Orders.

  2. All requests for hearings are to be cleared through the Judge's office.  If a matter does not fall within the guidelines set by the Orders it is not likely to be set for hearing unless the matter, if granted, will result in the case being closed.  The Judge's office can be reached by emailing the Judicial Assistant at wrivera@pbcgov.org.
  3. All parties are encouraged to submit proposed agreed orders whenever possible.  The agreed order shall include a provision that the other party has, in fact, agreed to the relief granted in the order.
  4. The presence of defendant is waived from March 23 until further notice except for motions to vacate capias and plea conferences.
  5. Defendants shall file written waivers of arraignments, whenever possible.
  6. If a matter does not qualify as "essential" as described in the Orders, send to the Judicial Assistant a copy of the motion wishing to be set.  The Court will inform the parties of its decision as soon as possible.
  7. Fingerprints for plea and pass agreements need not be obtained until the date of sentencing.
  8. The intent of the Orders and these temporary guidelines is to reduce the need for persons to be present in the courtroom.  Your cooperation is appreciated.

Please DO NOT use the divisional (CAD) email when sending correspondence to this division.

The following guidelines govern this Division. They are intended to give a reliable framework for resolving or trying cases in this Division.

  1. The first time a case is on the docket in this Division, the Court will ask whether defendant waives speedy trial. If defendant does not waive speedy at that time, the case will be set for a calendar call on the second Monday (not including the Monday of that week) after the case first appears on the docket.
  2. Trial dockets will be for a 2-week period on Wednesday through Friday of those weeks.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are specifically reserved for TRIALS ONLY and other matters specially set by the court.
  3. Each side is entitled to one continuance of a calendar call. Further continuances will be at the sole discretion of the Court, with a showing of compelling circumstances.
  4. The priority for trying cases is:
    1. speedy trial not waived, defendant in custody;
    2. speedy trial not waived, defendant not in custody;
    3. oldest case, defendant in custody;
    4. oldest case, defendant not in custody.
  5. Defendants must be present at calendar calls and plea conferences; defendant's presence can be waived only by court order.
  6. All jury trials will be set for the Wednesday following calendar call, subject to witness and attorney availability.
  7. The Court will accept pleas on the day of trial. The Court does not conduct pre-plea inquiries.  Pleas to the Court may be offered at the day of trial.
  8. Continuances will not be granted on the day of trial absent extraordinary circumstances.
  9. To allow trials to begin as early as possible, attorneys will not place matters on the court's docket for any days other than Monday or Tuesday without the Court's permission. Next day returns will be heard as necessary during the week.
  10. No motions in limine will be heard on the day of trial. All motions in limine shall be filed not later than one week prior to calendar call.  All motions in limine will be heard not later than the Friday before trial.  The parties shall make a good faith effort to discuss the issues raised in motions in limine prior to the hearing.  Motions in limine addressing electronic recordings (audio and video) shall specify, whenever possible, the specific times in the recording to be addressed.
  11. Motions to suppress and motions to dismiss are to be set for Monday or Tuesday afternoons.
  12. "Long" Motion Hearings:  Dates and times for specially set motions in limine, motions to suppress/dismiss, and non-jury trials, will be obtained by contacting the Division's Judicial Assistant (William Rivera; wrivera@pbcgov.org).
  13. Defense counsel will coordinate with the state in setting hearings which require witnesses to be subpoenaed. Counsel will present the opposing party and the Court all case law on which a side expects to rely not later than two days prior to the hearing.
  14. Agreed Orders:  There are no "agreed motions"; there are agreed orders, or there may be joint motions. However, do not present any type of order to the Court unless a written motion has been filed or an ore tenus motion has been made on the record.
  15. If the Court has ordered the defendant to be present for a hearing, the defendant's presence may not be waived by the attorney.
  16. The Court considers these "guidelines" to be a work in progress. Please feel free to suggest ways to improve these guidelines.
  17. "Short" Motion Hearings:  NO TELEPHONE APPEARANCE ALLOWED.  Any motion 5 minutes or less can be set on Uniform Motion Calendar on Monday or Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. (Not necessary to contact Judicial Assistant.)

All orders signed in the courtroom will be handed directly to the Clerk. If you need a copy of an order signed in court, you will need to bring copies to be conformed. Otherwise, copies of orders signed in court can be obtained from the Clerk's Office about 2 – 3 working days after filing.