It is the unified goal of all of our justice family: To protect access to justice while balancing health and public welfare. To the extent possible, the courts and justice partners will work to minimize the appearance of persons in the courtroom and limit the transportation of in-custody adults & juveniles to courts. Until further notice, all mission-critical hearings will remain open on regular scheduling and at regular locations, even if schools close. (The courts will NOT be on weekend/holiday bond schedules for the time being – even if schools close). This will be our goal for two (2) weeks beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27, and will be revisited and amended as needed.
The courts will:
- Encourage judges to allow telephonic appearances by attorneys and parties whenever possible
- Judges will accept requests for continuances via email without the need for court hearings
- Judges will schedule mission critical hearings only: such as, arraignments, emergencies and release issues
- Trials will not be scheduled unless there is an NOE. (WE ARE EXPECTING A TOLLING ORDER FROM the FSC shortly, the Chief requested it formally yesterday, so I would suggest there will be no jury trials, at all).
- For misdemeanor arrests, defendants will not have to appear in next 2 weeks for anything they have been noticed for. A continuance will be granted first time.
- For all – there will be no bench warrants or AC warrants for a FTA
- Facilitate communications with Corrections staff so that inmates are transported ONLY if necessary
- At PDO request judges will appoint PD by asking qualifying questions at first appearance, allowing PD to supplement the record with an affidavit at a later date.
- Understand that the PDO and Defense bar is only setting depos on cases where the client is in custody. Many of those depos are not appearing.
As I stated orally to you all yesterday, we are all still here, and phones will still be answered. To the extent that Judges, JAs, Bailiffs cover for each other please just let my office know so that we are aware if an issue arises. Also make sure that Corrections, COC, Probation, Court Reporter and lawyers on both sides are aware so that they can staff accordingly.
A joint press conference will be held by Courts, SAO, PD, RC3, Corrections and MDPD Court Services Bureau will be held at 4pm Friday, March 13th, in Crtrm 4-1 of Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building. (Note – many of you have asked about this. It was originally scheduled for 2PM but changed to 4PM at the request of Chief Justice Canady).
Again – please take all precautions as outlined by the CDC and other experts. At the earliest sign of illness please see your doctor and please advise me if you have been at the building. And please note that I will be available in my office or on my cell after hours. For those of you that do not have my cell please reply to this email and I will give it to you.
Nushin G. Sayfie, Circuit Court Judge
Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division
1351 NW 12th St., Room 423
Miami, FL 33125