WHEREAS, the Florida State Courts System has proactively addressed the effects on court operations of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); and
WHEREAS, the health, safety, and well-being of courthouse visitors, court employees, and judicial officers are a high priority, and we must continue to take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts, its participants, and the general public; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to AOSC20-32, its Amendments, and the Workgroup report, titled Requirements, Benchmarks, and Guidelines Governing the Transition to Limited In-Person Contact (Phase 2), certain requirements were established to protect public health and safety while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice; and
WHEREAS, AOSC20-13 initially suspended criminal and civil jury trials during the period of March 16, 2020, through March 27, 2020, and AOSC20-23, as amended several times, extended the suspension of jury trials through July 17, 2020; and
WHEREAS, based on the requirements, benchmarks, and guidelines established by the Florida Supreme Court, it is apparent that the Third Judicial Circuit is not in a position to effectively resume grand jury proceedings, criminal jury trials, or civil jury trials at this time even as counties transition into Phase 2.
NOW, THEREFORE, in order to provide for continued court operations during this emergency, and in accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215, and section 43.26, Florida Statutes, IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED:
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Lake City, Columbia County, Florida this 21st day of August, 2020.