E Divisional News

The Honorable Robert Panse oversees Division E
County Criminal Judge

DIVISION E NEWS AND INSTRUCTIONS For Implementation of Florida Supreme Court/15th Judicial Circuit Administrative Orders and COVID-19 Mitigation Procedures (as of 5/14/20)

Video-Audio Conferencing Hearings

 All hearings (except out of custody plea conferences, “in custody” plea conferences where the defendant will be released from custody immediately and “in custody” bond hearings) shall be through video audio conferencing via Zoom. The attorneys of record for the State and Defense will receive a Zoom meeting invitation by email from the Court. The meeting/hearing invitation will contain a link for the recipient to open. All attorneys who have not previously utilized Zoom are encouraged to go to Zoom.com to familiarize themselves with the operation of this app, which is straightforward and easy to use from a computer or laptop with a camera. All attorneys shall also be available by telephone during the scheduled hearing in the event a telephonic hearing becomes necessary.

Defendants who do not have an attorney (pro se defendants) shall provide to the Judge’s Judicial Assistant their email address, telephone number and a request to appear for a hearing by Zoom. Pro se defendants who do not have a smart phone or computer shall so advise the Court so that the Defendant may have an opportunity to participate in a hearing by telephone.

In conducting all video-audio conference hearings, the Judge shall call/announce the case. All attorneys and participants shall wait for the Judge to call upon the attorney or participant, whereupon the respective attorney or participant shall then first announce/state their name clearly for the record.

All criminal proceedings are officially recorded through Court Administration and attorneys and defendants shall at all times conduct themselves, speak and dress appropriately as well as be mindful that the criminal proceedings are open to the members of public. No attorney, defendant or other person shall record all or part of the criminal proceedings without prior approval from the Court or when not in full compliance with applicable 15th Judicial Circuit Administrative Order(s) and Rule(s) of Judicial Administration.

Telephonic Procedures where Video-Audio Conferencing not available or properly functioning

The telephonic procedures required below concern nonessential hearings when video-audio conferencing is not available or not properly functioning. The telephonic procedures pertain not only to all counsel, but also in all material respects to pro se defendants (thus, in reading these procedures a pro se defendant should substitute the term, “pro se defendant” where the term “defense counsel” is used).

Defense Counsel shall be available telephonically for all hearings at Defense Counsel's telephone number of record in the case unless otherwise required or ordered by the Court. The Court will initiate the conference call with the Defendant's attorney and the State Attorney's office at the beginning of or after the scheduled hearing time. Defense Counsel shall be available to receive the call and participate in the hearing from the beginning of the scheduled hearing time until the hearing is completed.

It is Defense Counsel's responsibility to provide to the Court in a timely manner any alternative telephone number should Defense Counsel wish to be called at a different telephone number from that on record in the case. Further, it shall be Defense Counsel's responsibility to review the clerk's database in each particular case to determine if the appropriate telephone number is designated at which Defense Counsel can be reached at the time of the scheduled hearing. Similarly, the lead Assistant State Attorney shall provide the Court's Judicial Assistant with the participating telephone number, and shall be available to receive and participate in all telephonic calls for all hearings until the docket is concluded.

It is imperative that the attorneys announce themselves each time they speak, as well as speak slowly and pause intermittently to allow the Court to have the opportunity to interject when needed.

Additional General Requirements

The State and Defense Counsel are encouraged to communicate in advance of all scheduled hearings to attempt in good faith to resolve or narrow all issues. Counsel shall submit agreed orders (electronically in WORD) to the Court no later than 48 hours prior to the hearing, which if approved by the Court may under most circumstances alleviate the need for the hearing.

Defense counsel are encouraged to file waivers of speedy trial where appropriate and submit agreed orders (electronically in Word) resetting case dispositions and status hearings (and other non-essential hearings where appropriate) in order to avoid unnecessary motion practice and unnecessary hearings. The agreed orders must identify the anticipated efforts and nature of activities to be undertaken prior to the next hearing that will progress the case towards a conclusion and that warrants the agreed reset.

All counsel shall continue to monitor the Court's divisional instructions as well as the 15th Judicial Circuit's and Florida Supreme Court's Administrative Orders concerning emergency operations, and suspension/modification/implementation of court rules/procedures arising out of or related to mitigation of the spread of COVID-19.

**Compliance with Local Rule 4 applies to all motion hearings. Prior to setting a motion hearing the party or attorney noticing the motion shall attempt to resolve the matter and shall, in the Notice of Hearing, certify that  good faith attempts have been made to resolve the matter.