Court Updated Concerning COVID-19

Court Operations Update

  Chief Judge Marx's Message to Potential Jurors

Chief Justice Canady, of the Florida Supreme Court issued Administrative Order AOSC20-2 Amendment 4, on Thursday, May 21, 2020, directing chief judges in all 20 circuits in the state to design a plan to begin a systematic return to the way court proceedings were held before the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the courts across the state, including the Fifteenth Circuit in Palm Beach County, are in Phase 1 of four defined phases with Phase 4 being a return to normal court operations. Phase 1 suspends all jury trials and face-to-face hearings can only occur for some essential court hearings. The majority of the court hearings are being held by remote methods.

Phase 2 expands the type of hearings that can be held face-to-face, using protective methods such as face coverings and social distancing. The chief judges across the state must provide an operational plan to the Florida Supreme Court before moving into Phase 2. Chief Judge Marx has developed a plan for Phase 2, which will be implemented when the Circuit meets the criteria necessary to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Specifically, before Phase 2 can be implemented:

  • there can be no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in a court facility within a 14-day period;
  • any local or state restrictive or stay-at-home orders have to be rescinded;
  • there must be evidence of improving COVID-19 health conditions over a 14-day period, such as a downward trajectory of positive tests;
  • there must be an increase in the availability of COVID-19 tests, and emerging antibody testing; and
  • the Chief Judge must consult with our court partners regarding the transition steps.

Attached is the Chief Justice's Administrative Order. More information on the Fifteenth Circuit's transition into Phase 2 will be released in the near future. Please continue to monitor our website.

HOW to ZOOM: instructions for attorneys and litigants regarding remote hearings

Persons entering the courthouses will have their temperature taken. See the Press Release below:

04-03-2020 Press Release from Chief Judge

Update Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

The courts are aware of the Governor's Stay at Home Executive order. However, the courts are considered essential and remain open for essential functions. Please see the link to the Chief Judge's Administrative Order for the listing of essential functions. Please note, too, that jury trials are suspended through May 29th.

Administrative Order 12.510

View AO 12.510 (Updated May 27, 2020)

The overarching purpose of this Administrative Order is to assure the public and the legal community that the courts of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit remain open, accessible, and operational to the fullest extent consistent with public safety. To that end, the Administrative Order directs judges to continue holding essential proceedings in-person and, when approved by the Chief Judge, remotely. It also reinforces the Circuit's position that non-essential proceedings shall continue to be scheduled and held remotely to the maximum extent possible. All proceedings can be scheduled five days a week either through online scheduling or with the assistance of the divisional judicial assistant. Additionally, the Administrative Order provides means for the public and media to obtain access to remote proceedings that are not closed per statute or rule.

All COVID-19 related Administrative Orders have been entered to address issues that have arisen during fluctuating circumstances, which have included additional directives from the Florida Supreme Court, and to correct any areas of confusion at the local level. I appreciate your patience and dedication as we focus on keeping the courts accessible while guarding the safety and wellbeing of our citizens, judges, court staff, and our court partners.

Hon. Krista Marx, Chief Judge

Circuit Criminal Events

Effective Monday, May 18th all essential felony hearings will be held in their respective courtrooms. Litigants and witnesses should speak with their attorney for more information.

"Essential hearings" are identified as bond hearings, pre-negotiated pleas, juvenile commitment release requests, non-represented defendant arraignments, and 30-day State-to-file hearings, or any other emergency or time sensitive matter as determined by the Divisional Judge.

The Court is also requesting your assistance in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Please do not come to any of the courthouses if you:

  • Are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, or shortness of breath)
  • Have been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency
  • Have recently travelled from an area with widespread COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who recently travelled from an area with widespread COVID-19

If you fall within any of the above categories and are required to report or appear in court, you should proceed as follows:

For Jury Service

Contact the Jury office at (561) 355-2407 or (561) 355-2930 (after hours) or 1-888-780-5032 to reschedule your service to a later date. You may also request a postponement online.

For Traffic Court

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all civil traffic infraction pretrial hearings will be conducted remotely using the ZOOM platform. There are no "in person" pretrial hearings scheduled at any of our courthouse locations at the present time and therefore you should not appear at the courthouse for your hearing. Similarly, there are no "in person" trials set at the courthouse at this time. Beginning June 17, 2020, we will begin phasing in remote civil traffic infraction trials.

In order to receive the most up to date notifications about your hearing, you must advise the Clerk of your current email address. You can do this by going to the Palm Beach County Clerk's website page.

If you have not yet received your court date or are not sure when it is scheduled, please go to Palm Beach County Clerk's Traffice Violations page and look up your case to see when your hearing has been set.

If your hearing will be conducted remotely, you should not appear at one of the Palm Beach County Courthouses for this hearing.

The email will include instructions for accessing your remote hearing. In order to appear remotely, you will need either a multimedia device connected to the internet: PC Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device equipped with a microphone and preferably a webcam; OR a cellular phone or land telephone line. If you do not receive a notice that your traffic trial will be conducted remotely, you will instead receive a new notice of final hearing from the Clerk's office resetting your case.

If for any reason you are unable to participate remotely, via the Zoom platform, you must file a letter with the Clerk explaining why you are unable to appear remotely. This letter must be filed with the Clerk at least three business days prior to the date of your hearing.

For more information about civil traffic infraction cases, please visit Traffic Division page.

For Criminal Court

  • If you are a Defendant and are represented by an attorney, contact your attorney for instructions and assistance.
  • If you are a Defendant and do not have an attorney, contact the divisional judge assigned to your case to reschedule or, if possible and permitted by the presiding judge, to appear telephonically. Find the divisional contact information.
  • Witnesses and victims, please contact the appropriate agency that has been in touch with you about the matter you are scheduled to appear in.

For Civil and Unified Family Court

  • If you are represented by an attorney, contact your attorney for instructions and assistance.
  • If you are a party and are not represented by an attorney, contact the divisional judge assigned to your case to reschedule or, if possible and permitted by the presiding judicial officer, to appear by telephone. Find the divisional contact information.
  • If you are a witness, please contact the party who requested your appearance.