FA Divisional News
The Courthouses are Open.
The courthouses remain open for essential functions as published in the Administrative Order 12.510 issued by Chief Judge Marx.
Divisional Instructions For Divisions FA And IB
In RE: Mitigating Measures In Response To COVID-19 To Easily Enable Telephonic Or Video Hearings, Or Rulings Solely On The Papers
The following shall be implemented in Division FA and IB pursuant to Administrative Order No.: 12.510-03/2020.4*, or its progeny. Please refer to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Website for the courts latest updates regarding COVID-19.
Based on the Administrative Order, only essential court proceedings are being held in person. All non-essential proceedings will be handled by telephone/video when possible, or will be rescheduled if necessary. There will be no hearings set on Fridays, unless set by court order.
Unless the parties stipulate otherwise or by separate court order, all scheduled hearings in Division FA and IB will remain as set, with the exception of hearings set on Fridays, as set forth in the Administrative Order. Absent a stipulation, parties may move to reschedule any hearing, and the Court will promptly consider the request. (A copy of all such requests should be sent to CAD-DivisionFA@pbcgov.org for family cases, or CAD-DivisionIB@pbcgov.org for probate/guardianship cases).
During the duration of Administrative Order No.: 12.510-03/2020.4*, all hearings will be conducted via telephone or video, and must be pre-arranged with a telephone or video conference provider. See the listing of Circuit Approved Video Appearance Vendors for more information. This requirement applies to self-represented litigants as well as attorneys. Telephone conference providers include Court Call (888-882-6878); CourtScribes (833-727-4237 ext 3); Zoom (888-799-9666); VisualEvidence, etc., 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 Notice of Hearing must include the number and passcode that the Court will use to initiate the call at the time of the hearing.
Special Set Hearings that are scheduled via the OLS
If your hearing was set up via the OLS, Court Call or a Court approved conference service will need to be set up by the Attorney's office, included on the NOH and emailed to the Court.
Uniform Motion Calendar and Uncontested Hearings:
All Uniform Motion Calendar hearings will be conducted by Court Call or a Court approved teleconference service, 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 license in advance, which may be uploaded in the Online Services System (OLS) as an attachment to the Final Judgment. No parties should be present in the courtroom. This rule applies to self-represented litigants and court reporters as well as attorneys. In addition, only hearings that have been scheduled on the Online Scheduling System will go forward.
The Court upon request, will provide the attorneys (or self-represented parties) with a Zoom invitation by e-mail in advance of each hearing, at no cost to the parties, for the cases requesting Zoom access. The Court will not automatically schedule Zoom. The request will need to be emailed to the appropriate divisional email. If using Court Call, the dial-in information is automatically provided to the Court once the attorney/party makes the arrangements through Court Call. If using another provider, or if you choose to use your own teleconferencing system, you must provide the Court with the dial-in information, including passcode, in advance of the hearing, and this information must be included in your Notice of Hearing.
Motion calendar will still commence at 8:45 a.m. and is extended to at least 9:30 a.m. to accommodate the extra time that may be needed for telephone conferencing. Please call in and have all parties on the line promptly at 8:45 a.m. Judge Cheesman will then call into each case as it appears on the online calendar. Please be patient and continue to hold on the line until your case is called.
Probate Ex-Parte Hearings
Physical hearings for probate ex-parte have been suspended until further notice. Counsel and parties seeking ex-parte relief should continue to submit documents to the Court via Online Services System along with proposed orders. The case will be reviewed in the order in which it is received. For expedited review, submit a completed and correct Probate Checklist, as explained in detail in the Divisional Instructions for Division IB. DO NOT SCHEDULE EX-PARTE MATTERS FOR UMC, THE HEARING WILL BE CANCELLED.
The parties are MUST submit their filed motions, responses, affidavits, etc., to the Court that they mutually agree the Court may address based solely upon the papers, and thereby waive oral argument. All such requests must be made via a letter to the Judge signed by both parties and sent to CAD-DivisionFA@pbcgov.org for family cases, or CAD-DivisionIB@pbcgov.org for probate/guardianship cases. Each side should prepare a proposed order to be submitted through the Online Services System (OLS) with notation that it is related to a disputed issue which the parties have agreed for the Court to review without a hearing.
When hearings are necessary for non-evidentiary issues, they will be handled by telephone/video hearing.
The Court intends to handle evidentiary hearings by video/telephone whenever possible, however, this will require the highest level of professionalism and cooperation between opposing counsel and parties. No less than five days prior to each hearing, the parties must exchange all proposed exhibits which they intend to reference during the hearing. Each proposed exhibit must be pre-marked for identification to identify the exhibits numerically.
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 Court in advance. If the evidence/exhibits are more than 20 pages it needs to be mailed or dropped off at the Courthouse (5) five days before the hearing.
If witnesses will be called to give testimony, the Court requires that such appearances be pre-arranged with a teleconference provider as set forth above or via video with an appropriate provider. Per Justice Canady's Administrative Order (3-13-2020) and Administrative Order (3-24-20), 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 from the March 13, 2020 - April 17, 2020, or as provided by subsequent order.
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.
Any motions to assist fair, timely, effective and efficient efforts suggesting procedures the Court can use to address issues relevant to your respective cases during the current outbreak are strongly encouraged by the Court. 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.
The Court upon request, will provide the attorneys (or self-represented parties) with a Zoom invitation by e-mail in advance of each hearing, at no cost to the parties, for the cases requesting Zoom access. If using Court Call, the dial-in information is automatically provided to the Court once the attorney/party makes the arrangements through Court Call. If using another provider, or if you choose to use your own teleconferencing system, you must provide the Court with the dial-in information, including passcode, in advance of the hearing, and this information must be included in your Notice of Hearing.
Contested Final Hearings and Trials
Most contested final hearings and trials will not be handled by telephone or video at this time, and will most likely need to be rescheduled for a later date. The Court encourages all Parties to participate in mediation or other alternatives for dispute resolution (which may also be done by telephone during this time) before trial, to attempt to resolve disputes issues.
Most general questions can be answered by reading the Divisional Instructions herein. For case-specific questions the best way to contact the Judicial Assistant is via email at CAD-DivisionFA@pbcgov.org for family cases or CAD-DivisionIB@pbcgov.org.
FOR DIVISIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FA AND DIVISIONAL INSTRUCTIONS IB, CLICK ON THE APPROPRIATE LINK LOCATED IN THE LOWER RIGHT-HAND BELOW THE JUDGE'S PCITURE.
Do Not Send Letters, Emails or Notes To The Court
The Court does not act on letters, notes or emails sent by either party. The Court acts on petitions or motions properly filed with the Clerk of the Court. File the appropriate petition or motion with the Clerk of the Court, send a copy to the opposing side and a courtesy copy to the Court in order for requests to be addressed by the Court. All documents emailed to the Court must state that they were emailed to the opposing side in the same email or they will be returned as ex parte communication.