AG Divisional Instructions

Coronavirus Update

In compliance with the Supreme Court Administrative Order (AOSC20-13 and AOSC20-15) and the 15th Circuit Chief Judge's Administrative Order (12.510), the courthouses remain open for essential functions until at least March 27, 2020.

"Essential functions" is defined in the Chief Judge's Administrative Order. All courts (except the courts at Gun Club) will be suspended each Friday beginning March 27, 2020 through and including May 1, 2020.

Uniform Motion Calendar and non-evidentiary proceedings will continue telephonically. All parties must agree to the phone service to be utilized for the hearing. The parties should create a conference call and put the conference call information on the Notice of Hearing. If the Notice has already been provided to the court the conference call information can be provided to the judicial assistant at 561-355-6533 for uniform motion calendar and special set hearings, unless a special exception is made by the Court.

All non-evidentiary hearings, can be scheduled using the online services. All other procedures and requirements remain effective, including but not limited to compliance with Local Rule 4.

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 AG pursuant to Administrative Order No.: 12.510-03/2020.4*

  1. Unless the parties stipulate otherwise, with the exception of hearings set on Mondays, as set forth in the Administrative Order, all scheduled hearings in Division AG will remain pending. Absent a stipulation, parties may move to reschedule the hearing, and the Court will promptly consider the request. (All such requests should be set on the UMC calendar)
  2. During the duration of Administrative Order No.: 12.510-03/2020.4*, all hearings will be conducted via telephone and must be pre-arranged with a telephone conference provider. This requirement applies to pro se litigants as well as attorneys. Telephone conference providers include Court Call (888-882-6878), CourtScribes (833-727-4237 ext 3), and Zoom (888-799-9666), but parties are free to seek out other vendors or utilize their own conference call provider if they have one. 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.
  3. All papers upon which the parties intend to rely for their scheduled hearings must be filed with the court in advance of the hearing and submitted by mail to the court. If the papers do not appear on the docket, the parties must submit all documents which they intend to reference during the hearing 48 hours in advance by mail. If for any reason you cannot submit your document by mail you may contact the court's Judicial Assistant at 561-355-6533 for direction. Copies of documents, binders, etc., are still being accepted by this office by mail.
  4. For evidentiary hearings and non-jury trials, 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 by mail in advance of the hearing or trial.
  5. If witnesses will be called to give testimony, the Court requires that such appearances be pre-arranged with a teleconference provider as in paragraph 2 above or via video with an appropriate provider. Per Justice Canady's Administrative Order (3-13-2020), 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 13-27, 2020. Moreover, this A.O.'s time period may be extended by Justice Canady.
  6. 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.
  7. The parties are encouraged to submit any motions to the Court that they mutually agree the Court may address based solely upon the papers and thereby waive oral argument.
  8. Any motions to assist fair, timely, effective and efficient efforts suggesting procedures to use to address necessary issues for 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.
  9. In light of the court's inability to conduct jury trials at this time, the court has added additional special set hearing dates for 30 minute time slots. These time slots can be used for 15 minute or 30 minute hearings until normal business practices resume. When setting hearings please err on the side of caution as to how much time is needed for the hearing.

As of January 28, 2020, Judge Hafele's division implemented the use of the 15th Judicial Circuit Online Services. Do not submit any orders in anticipation of a hearing. Orders should be submitted through Online Services, without a signature line, as the orders will be signed electronically and will be e-filed and e-served. If the order being submitted is regarding a hearing held in open court, the date of that hearing must be included in the first sentence of the order.

Jury trials are currently being scheduled in December 2020 - February 20201 and Non-Jury trials in December 2020 - February 20201 . but may be set sooner upon availability of other judges to handle cases. If a case is set for trial or calendar call any motion and order to withdraw as counsel must reference the trial or calendar call date. Trials cannot be continued by agreed order.

Uniform Motion Calendar:

Motion calendar hearings are held Monday through Thursday at 8:45 and are set through the online schedule system for bulk hearings.

Monday through Thursday, 8:45 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Uniform Motion Calendar is scheduled through the online scheduling system. Do not use the special set hearing dates of 15 or 30 minutes.  All UMC hearings are first come, first serve - sign in with deputy. UMC hearings are limited to 10 minutes (5 mins. per side). Only one hearing per case may be scheduled per hearing day. Scheduling is between the parties. Do not call the JA for scheduling on UMC. The Court does not keep a docket. Provide a courtesy copy of the notice of hearing and motion to Judge Hafele's office at least two (2) days prior to the hearing. Counsel MUST bring a copy of the notice of hearing and motion to Uniform Motion Calendar, along with a blank proposed Order (names and addresses of parties/counsel to receive copies must be noted on the Order, per local rules) with copies and addressed and stamped envelope (if parties are not registered for the e-service list). Motions for Summary Judgment wherein the attorney in good faith feels the motion is unopposed or involves a lay Defendant in a collection matter can be set on the uniform motion calendar.

Motions to Compel

Please segregate each interrogatory and production request with each response/objection immediately thereafter.

Telephone Attendance at Hearings

Appearance by telephone is permitted on the UMC. However, at least one party must appear in person to sign in. The attorney/party appearing by phone should provide opposing counsel/party the number at which he or she may receive a call from the judge at the time of the hearing and opposing counsel shall provide same to the court deputy when signing in. Do not call the JA with the number. The judge will then call the attorney/party when that case is called up for hearing. Telephone hearings are called last on the calendar and run the risk of not getting reached.

The same procedure is to be followed for telephone attendance at special set hearings under 30 minutes. 

It is not necessary to obtain an order for court approval for telephone attendance at hearings 15 minutes or less. An Order is required, however, for telephone attendance at hearings over 15 minutes.

Specially set hearings of fifteen (15) and thirty (30) minutes are set ON-LINE and cannot be cancelled or continued by agreed order. Timeslots are in increments of fifteen (15) or thirty (30) minutes. Please note the following prior to scheduling on-line:

The Motion must be filed with the Clerk prior to scheduling hearing. The date and time must be cleared with all parties prior to accepting the date on-line, and only one hearing per case per hearing day is allowed. A copy of the Notice of Hearing*, along with a courtesy copy of the Motion being scheduled (and, if a Motion to Dismiss, a copy of the operative Complaint) shall be forwarded to the Judge's office within five days of obtaining the hearing date, and must note the 5 rules listed below somewhere on the notice.**

BE CAREFUL! Once a hearing is scheduled on-line, the JA cannot cancel it, move it, add to it, etc., FOR ANY REASON (i.e., oops, my attorney forgot to tell me he would be on vacation; I e-mailed opposing counsel and never heard back so I assumed the date was okay, but now I find out it's not.). If any changes need to be made to a scheduled hearing, a MOTION MUST BE FILED and SET FOR HEARING ON UNIFORM MOTION CALENDAR.

Do not book a date for hearing unless it has been cleared with all counsel/parties.

Please note: An Order Setting Hearing is only required now if the matter being scheduled is a Final Hearing/Trial. For all other motions being scheduled, it is permissible (and preferrable) to submit a NOTICE OF HEARING. However, the Notice of Hearing MUST CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE SOMEWHERE ON THE NOTICE: 1) The JA cannot cancel this hearing unless the issue is resolved; 2) No add-ons are permitted; 3) Any Memorandums submitted are limited to 10 double-spaced pages; 4) Any materials submitted are due at least 7 days prior to the hearing; and 5) The moving party is required to bring to the hearing a blank proposed Order with copies and envelopes. (These rules apply to special settings only - not UMC hearings.)

Also, if the hearing is an Evidenitary Hearing, same must be noted on the Notice, and all counsel must have agreed that the amount of time scheduled is appropriate.

Motions for Rehearing are not scheduled by the parties/attorneys. See local rules.

Only one hearing per case may be scheduled per hearing day.

*An Order Setting Hearing is required only if the matter being scheduled is a Final Hearing/Trial. Otherwise, a Notice of Hearing is permissible (and preferable).

If a hearing time of more than 30 minutes is being requested, file a Motion and set same for hearing on the Uniform Motion Calendar

The following procedures must be noted on all Special Set (not UMC) Notices of Hearing and Orders Setting Hearing in Division AG:

  1. The JA cannot cancel this hearing unless the issue is resolved.
  2. No add-ons are permitted.
  3. Any Memorandums submitted are limited to 10 double-spaced pages.
  4. Any materials submitted are due at least 7 days prior to the hearing.
  5. The moving party is required to bring to the hearing a blank proposed Order with copies and envelopes.

Memorandums of Law should be submitted with the Notice of Hearing or, if sent separately, denote the hearing date on the front page.

No post-hearing submittals will be accepted unless requested by the Court.

Notices of Trial

File the original Notice with the Clerk and send a copy to the Judicial Assistant. The court will only need self-addressed, stamped envelopes for all parties not represented by an attorney who have not designated an e-mail address for service.

Calendar Call

Attendance at Calendar Call is required. Telephone attendance is never permitted at Calendar Call. No motions of any kind will be heard at the time of Calendar Call.


Foreclosure Cases

Trials

Notices of Foreclosure Trials must be filed with the Clerk's office. The Notice shall include the specific matters to be tried and an estimate of time needed for the trial. See Rule 1.440(b), Fla.R.Civ.Pro. The number of witnesses for each side should be included in the notice. See Rule 1.440(b), Fla.R.Civ.Pro. The completed Trial Form must be attached to the courtesy copy. If there is an opposing counsel, counsels must confer as to the amount of time needed for trial. The agreement or lack of agreement as to the length of time shall be reflected on the Notice for Trial. Send a copy to the Judicial Assistant pursuant to the divisional instructions. The Judicial Assistant will forward all notices of trial requesting ninety (90) minutes or less to a case manager to issue a trial order for a docket to be heard by Senior Judges. Any requests for two hours or more shall be set for calendar call and heard by the Judge presiding in that division. Please review each trial order carefully. All motions for continuances of the trial shall be filed and noticed pursuant to the instructions on the Order Setting Trial prior to the trial date. Motions for Continuance will be heard in the division in which they are assigned. Senior Judges will not entertain motions for continuances on the day of trial.

All evidence for trial should be pre-marked.

Uncontested Summary Judgment Hearings

Plaintiff’s Uncontested/Default Motions for Summary Judgment are set for hearing in front of senior judges. Hearings lasting up to ten (10) minutes can be set via the Summary Judgment online scheduling system. These should not be set for UMC as a separate block of time is set aside specifically for these hearings. Motions for Deficiency Judgment, Re-foreclosure, Quiet Title and Defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment are not appropriate for Uncontested Summary Judgment Hearings.

Once scheduled online (whether a Notice of Hearing has been issued or not), all summary judgment hearings must be cancelled by Court Order. YOU CAN NO LONGER CANCEL A SUMMARY JUDGMENT HEARING ONLINE. To request a continuance or cancellation of a Summary Judgment hearing when the motion has not been resolved, you must appear at 8:45 Uniform Motion Calendar, prior to the hearing date to request the cancellation. The Order Canceling Summary Judgment hearing must reflect the date and time the matter is set for hearing. If there is an Agreed/Consent Final Summary Judgment, it should be entered on the Summary Judgment hearing date at the appropriate time. IN THE ABSENCE OF EITHER PARTY, THE FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR A HEARING MAY RESULT IN THE COURT GRANTING OR DENYING THE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. No paperwork should be submitted prior to the hearing but must be presented as listed below at the hearing.

The following documents are required at an Uncontested Summary Judgment hearing:

  • Summary Judgment Foreclosure Checklist with adding machine tape attached
  • Notice of Hearing
  • Motion for Summary Judgment
  • Payment History
  • Affidavit of Indebtedness (including a loan payment history)
  • Affidavit of Attorney's Fees
  • Affidavit of Costs
  • Opposing affidavits (if any – see FRCP 1.510)
  • Original Note and Mortgage (or copies if already filed with the Clerk's office)
  • Final Judgment and Copies (tab the original for Judge's signature)
  • Final Disposition Form
  • Four sets of self-addressed and stamped envelopes, sorted, with the return address of: Clerk & Comptroller Palm Beach County, P.O. Box 4667, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402-4667
  • If the Final Judgment is entered, the Clerk's office will need the Certificate of Title.

Sale dates will be provided at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff or Plaintiff's attorney must prepare a Notice of Sale and send a copy to all parties on the case. This step is not required to be conducted in the courtroom. Notices of Sale may be emailed to the designated newspaper for publication. The original must be filed with the Clerk of Court. Notices should include sale date, billing information, signature of Plaintiff or Plaintiff's attorney, sale location (Palm Beach Clerk Auctions), time of sale (10:00 AM) and all other information as required by F.S. Section 45.031(2).

Any Summary Judgment hearings that are contested and will take more than ten (10) minutes shall be set as a special set hearing in the assigned division and titled as a Contested Final Summary Judgment.

Motions for Disbursement of Surplus Funds

The party that filed the motion must set motions for Surplus Funds for hearing with notice to all parties. Sixty days from the issuance of the Certificate of Disbursement must elapse prior to any hearing being set. Any contested evidentiary hearings taking more than 10 minutes (five (5) minutes each side) should be set for a special set hearing, otherwise most Motions for Surplus can be scheduled for Uniform Motion Calendar pursuant to the divisional instructions.

Motions for Writ of Possession

All motions for Writ of Possession (to vacate premises) must be set at Uniform Motion Calendar with proof of proper and timely notice to all parties, including unknown tenants. Tenants who receive a Notice of Hearing for a Writ of Possession have the right to be present at the hearing and must attend if they are seeking an extension.