FW/FW2, RA, BG/WI/Y Divisional Instructions

COVID-19 Update

ALL COURTHOUSE BUILDINGS REMAIN OPEN. Please refer to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Website for the courts latest updates regarding COVID-19. The Chief Judge has issued  Administrative Order No. 12.510, Mitigating Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Based on the Administrative Order only essential court proceedings are being held in person. "Essential hearings" are identified as Injunctions for Protection, bond hearings, pre-negotiated pleas, juvenile commitment release requests, non-represented defendant arraignments, Baker Act/Marchman Act Petitions, and 30-day State-to-file hearings, or any other emergency or time sensitive matter as determined by the Divisional Judge.

All non-essential proceedings are suspended unless they are able to be held remotely until further order of the Chief Judge. These would include the suspension of the in-person dockets for Family, and County Civil in West County Courthouse.  

In order to facilitate a timely resolution of hearings and cases for the parties, Judge Collins will be holding Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC), Special Set Hearings, Small Claims Pre-Trials Conferences, and Small Claims Trials for Divisions FW and RA as scheduled utilizing phone conference and/or videoconference technology whenever possible. Mediations are being held remotely.  Parties should NOT come to the courthouse on non-essential hearings until further notice unless advised by their attorney to do so

Parties may schedule hearings through online scheduling or contact Sandra Becerra, judicial assistant to Judge Collins, at (561)996-4841 and/or CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org to scheduling hearings for ANY division during the suspension period.  Since Criminal Divisions Y, BG, and DUSBG are not set up for online scheduling, hearings may be set up by calling or emailing the judicial assistant.  Persons in civil and family cases who are not represented by attorneys are encouraged to fill out and file with the Clerk an email designation form or contact the Court to provide a telephone number.

The following directions will be implemented in the West County Divisions overseen by Judge Collins for the duration of Administrative Order No.12.510:

  1. Criminal Cases including Criminal Municipal Ordinance Violations - If you receive a citation/criminal case and do not have an attorney, you may contact the Office of the Public Defender at (561)996-4880 or Clerk of Court at (561)996-4843 for information about when you should appear in court. Criminal Cases that were scheduled  to be heard in court for non-essential hearings March 24 through May 29 were automatically rescheduled by the Clerk of Court based upon the Administrative Order of the Chief Judge.  Attorneys are invited and encouraged to contact the Court to coordinate a date to hold remote hearings  sooner than the date rescheduled by the Clerk. ZOOM will be available for video conferencing. Please advise the Judicial Assistant should you wish to do so when you call to schedule your hearing so that a link with instructions may be provided. Refer to AOSC20-16 In Re: COVID-19 Emergency Procedures for the Administering of Oaths via Remote Audio-Video Communications Equipment regarding the procedures for utilizing remote witness testimony. Submit proposed agreed orders to reset any case along with a waiver of speedy trial to the Judge Collins email CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org. 
  2. Judge Collins encourages Attorneys representing clients with Civil Traffic Infractions with mandatory court appearances ( i.e. speeding in excess of 30 mph) to contact Sandra Becerra, JA for Judge Collins, at (561)996-4841 or CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org to schedule a pretrial hearing to be held remotely via Zoom or other telephone conference provider as described in paragraph 3 below.
  3. With the exception of the essential hearings to be conducted in person, all other non-essential hearings will be via teleconference or videoconference until further notice and must be pre-arranged with a telephone/video conference provider. This requirement applies to pro se litigants as well as attorneys with the exception of small claims  cases and UMC hearings. The notice of hearing must contain information for the parties and the Court to know which provider will be utilized for the hearing. The Court will provide Zoom for the use of all participants during UMC and Pre-Trial Conferences including mediation. Telephone conference providers include Court Call (888-882-6878), CourtScribes (833-727-4237 ext 3), Zoom and WebEx, but parties are free to seek out other vendors or utilize their own conference call provider if they have one.  If using a teleconference provider that does not automatically provide a dial-in number, the parties shall send an email to CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org  including the number and passcode that the Court will use to initiate the call at the time of the hearing 48 hours prior to the hearing time.
  4. All papers upon which the parties intend to rely for their scheduled hearings must be filed with the court in advance of the hearing. If the papers do not appear on the docket, the parties must submit all documents which they intend to reference during the hearing via email to CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org.  Hard copies of documents, binders, etc., will not be accepted by this office until further notice.
  5. For evidentiary hearings and non-jury trials, the parties should stipulate to the admissibility of evidence for which the admissibility is not reasonably contested. The parties shall provide copies of all intended exhibits, evidence or demonstratives to the Clerk as per the trial order. If witnesses will be called to give testimony, the Court requires that such appearances be pre-arranged with a teleconference provider as in paragraph 1 above or via video with an appropriate provider. Per Justice Canady's Administrative Order (3-13-2020), all rules of procedure, court orders and opinions applicable to court procedure that limit or prohibit the use of communication equipment for conducting proceedings by electronic means are suspended for the duration of said Order.  Moreover, this A.O.'s time period may be extended by Justice Canady.
  6. For an uncontested divorce, please provide the Court with a copy of the testifying party's driver's license (or other appropriate form of identification) in advance, which may be uploaded in OLS as an attachment to the Final Judgment. The testifying party may be at the attorney's office, on the phone with a notary, or on video with the Court administering the Oath pursuant to the A.O. issued by Chief Justice Canady.
  7. To the extent possible, court reporters will also utilize a teleconference or video conference provider to cover hearings/non-jury trials. The Court will administer the oath, or oaths are to be administered in accord with Justice Canady's A.O. The parties are encouraged to submit any motions to the Court that they mutually agree the Court may address based solely upon the papers and thereby waive oral argument.
  8. It is the intention of the Court to enable and facilitate telephone or video hearings in a practical manner or to allow rulings on the papers when acceptable to the parties. Above all, though, the Court wishes to provide for the administration of justice without risking anyone's safety.

View important changes to PIP pretrial procedures

Online Scheduling (OLS)

We participate in Online Scheduling for UMC and Special Set Hearings in Division RA and FW. The Court will open dates approximately 60 days in advance. Use of the system requires a user ID and password. Please see the link to the instructions on the homepage. Technical questions regarding the system should be directed to CAD-WEB@pbcgov.org. If the system says there are no hearing dates available, please check again at a later time.

Motions

Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC)- Filed and docketed motion hearing(s) of less than ten(10) minutes including argument by both sides can be held for Family Case Division FW on Wednesdays (when available in OLS) at 1:00 pm. and for County Civil RA on Thursdays at 1 pm. DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, ALL UMC HEARINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED TELEPHONICALLY OR VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE TECHNOLOGY USING THE COURT'S ZOOM ACCOUNT.

Judge Collins will continue to hear pending matters including uncontested dissolution of marriage hearings, or any other hearing that can be handled remotely. For an uncontested divorce, please provide the Court with a copy of the testifying party’s driver’s license (or other appropriate form of identification) in advance, which may be uploaded in OLS as an attachment to the Final Judgment. The testifying party may be at the attorney’s office, on the phone with a notary, or on video with the Court administering the Oath pursuant to the A.O. issued by Chief Justice Canady.

Hearings can be set with five (5) business days notice including courtesy copies of the motion and notice to the Court through On-Line Scheduling. In keeping with professional courtesy, any party scheduling a hearing shall make reasonable efforts to contact the opposing party/counsel for availability or scheduling conflicts. Please file your Motion with the Clerk of Courts and then submit a copy of the Motion as a "PDF" and Proposed Order in a "WORD" format thru the On-Line Scheduling. All parties shall abide by Local Rule 4 to try to resolve the matter and certify the good faith attempt to resolve on the Notice of Hearing. *Please note any Emergency Motions must be filed with the Clerk of Courts before submitting to the Judge for review. Telephonic appearances are allowed with prior Court order. See phone call instructions. Hearings can be cancelled in OLS without court approval.

Special Set Hearings

Motions requiring a maximum of 15 - 30 minutes should be set using On-Line Scheduling. Hearings that will take longer than 60 minutes should be set by contacting Sandra Becerra, Judicial Assistant to Judge Collins, at 561-996-4841 or CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org for all divisions. OnLine Scheduling should not be used for Post Judgment Special Set hearings for Division FW since they are referred to a General Magistrate pursuant to Administrative Order 5.104. DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, ALL SPECIAL SET HEARINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED TELEPHONICALLY OR VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE TECHNOLOGY. If you believe that your case requires emergency action pursuant to Family Admin. Order 5.203-1/17 or Probate Admin. Order 6.104-11/14, you should file the appropriate motion in writing.

The motion(s) must be filed and docketed with the Clerk of Court prior to requesting a hearing date and time. In keeping with professional courtesy, any party scheduling a hearing shall make a good faith attempt to resolve the matter, undertake reasonable efforts to contact the opposing party/counsel for availability or scheduling conflicts. Send a courtesy copy of the notice and motion to the Court through On-Line Scheduling at least 5 business days before the hearing. Special set hearings may not be cancelled without court order.

Motions for Attorney Fees

Since the Court utilizes a preliminary order with instructions to be followed in advance of the hearing, all Motions for attorney's fees and/or costs shall attach a document detailing the time records and requested rate(s). The moving party shall request the time for the hearing with the Judicial Assistant via telephone or email.

Interpreters for County Civil Cases

The Court does not provide interpreters for County Civil or Family Division cases. It is the responsibility of the party needing an interpreter to bring to court an interpreter who is certified, language skilled, provisionally approved or who is registered with the Office of State Court Administrator as required by Rule 2.560 and Rule 2.565 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. For further information or for assistance locating an interpreter, please visit Court Interpreters. Persons unable to obtain an interpreter must provide someone to assist. The Court will determine if they are qualified to interpret the proceedings.

Small Claims

Pre-trial hearings are set every other Tuesdays at 1:30 pm. All small claims cases must go to mediation. Mediation is provided free of charge. Remote Mediation is being utilized due to COVID-19. If not resolved, the case will be set for trial. If the parties intend to waive Pre-Trial Conference, the parties should file the signed Stipulation with the Clerk of Courts and then send a copy of the signed stipulation as a "PDF" along with a Proposed Order in "WORD" format thru our On-Line Scheduling for Judge's signature. Once the Order has been esigned and eserved to you then the hearing is cancelled. If the Order is not signed, parties may have to appear at the hearing unless told otherwise.

PIP

PIP Pretrial hearings are set along with Small Claims Pre-trial hearings every other Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 pm. All parties shall submit the Palm Beach County form for waiver of appearance and stipulation to the civil rules of civil procedure prior to the hearing using the OnLine Scheduling system.

Landlord/Tenant

Landlord/Tenant hearings are set and noticed by the Court for Tuesday afternoons after review of motions sent to the Court or when the Court decides mediation or hearings are appropriate. Mediation is provided at no charge for Residential Mediation and only $60 per side for Commercial Mediation.

Trials

All non-jury trials are set by the court with a pre-trial procedure order. Jury trials will be transferred to be heard in the Daniel T.K. Hurley Courthouse in West Palm Beach.

Phone Calls/Emails

Please note that no long distance calls will be returned.

Pro Se litigants that have access to email are encouraged to fill out and file with the Clerk an email designation form. This will allow the Court to submit orders to the parties via email instead of sending in the U.S. Postal Service which will greatly reduce the time for the parties communication with each other and the Court.

Proposed Orders

When submitting proposed orders to the Court for review, the Court prefers all orders to be submitted in WORD format through Online Scheduling System. Since the criminal divisions are not set up to receive orders via OLS, orders in criminal cases may be submitted as a WORD attachment by email to CAD-DivisionY@pbcgov.org for felonies or CAD-DivisionBG@pbcgov.org for misdemeanors and criminal traffic cases. Any supporting documents for the Court to review should be e-filed with the clerk and then submitted as pdf attachments to the order under "options". If you do not attach supporting documents, there will be a delay in signing orders since documents filed with the clerk's office can take 24 - 72 hours to be visible to the Judge. If the order involves an older case where the supporting documents are not visible in the court file i.e. party is seeking a continuing order of garnishment based upon a final judgment issued in 2005, a copy of the signed final judgment should be e-filed and provided as an attachment for the court to review.

Any final orders that will be recorded in the public records must comply with Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.520 and should contain a 3" x 3" blank space in the upper right hand corner of the first page and a 1" x 3" space in the top right corner of any subsequent page.

Questions and Advice

Neither the Judge nor the Judicial Assistant can give you legal advice regarding how to proceed with your case. For assistance, you can contact the Self-Help Center at 561-355-6781 located on the first floor of the Main West Palm Beach Courthouse. Additionally, the Palm Beach County Bar Association has a lawyer referral and information service at 561-687-3266