Please refer to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Website for the courts latest updates regarding COVID-19. The Chief Judge has issued Administrative Order No. 12.510, Mitigating Measures in Response to COVID-19.
Based on the Administrative Order, only essential in-person court proceedings are being held which include First Appearances, Criminal Arraignments, Baker Act and Marchman Act Petitions, and Injunctions for Protection in the West County Courthouse. All non-essential in-person proceedings are suspended until further order of the Chief Judge which will be at least through May 1. These would include the suspension of the in-person dockets for Criminal, Family and County Civil in West County.
In order to facilitate a timely resolution of the County Civil and Family cases, Judge Collins will hear matters by phone conference and/or videoconference when possible. Parties should NOT come to the courthouse. Parties should contact Sandra Becerra, judicial assistant to Judge Collins, to set conference calls to discuss evidentiary hearings scheduled during the suspension period.
Online Scheduling (OLS)
We participate in Online Scheduling for UMC and Special Set Hearings in Division RA and FW. The Court will open dates approximately 60 days in advance. Use of the system requires a user ID and password. Please see the link to the instructions on the homepage. Technical questions regarding the system should be directed to CAD-WEB@pbcgov.org. If the system says there are no hearing dates available, please check again at a later time.
Uniform Motion Calendar (UMC)- Filed and docketed motion hearing(s) of less than ten(10) minutes including argument by both sides can be held for Family Case Division FW on Wednesdays (when available in OLS) at 1:00 pm. and for County Civil RA on Thursdays at 1 pm. DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, ALL UMC HEARINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED TELEPHONICALLY OR VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE TECHNOLOGY.
Judge Collins will continue to hear pending matters 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 OLS as an attachment to the Final Judgment. The testifying party may be at the attorney’s office or on the phone with a notary.
Hearings can be set with five (5) business days notice including courtesy copies of the motion and notice to the Court through On-Line Scheduling. In keeping with professional courtesy, any party scheduling a hearing shall make reasonable efforts to contact the opposing party/counsel for availability or scheduling conflicts. Please file your Motion with the Clerk of Courts and then submit a copy of the Motion as a "PDF" and Proposed Order in a "WORD" format thru the On-Line Scheduling. All parties shall abide by Local Rule 4 to try to resolve the matter and certify the good faith attempt to resolve on the Notice of Hearing. *Please note any Emergency Motions must be filed with the Clerk of Courts before submitting to the Judge for review. Telephonic appearances are allowed with prior Court order. See phone call instructions. Hearings can be cancelled in OLS without court approval.
Special Set Hearings
Motions requiring a maximum of 15 - 30 minutes should be set using On-Line Scheduling. Hearings that will take longer than 60 minutes should be set by contacting Sandra Becerra, Judicial Assistant to Judge Collins, at 561-996-4841 or CAD-DivisionRA@pbcgov.org for all divisions. OnLine Scheduling should not be used for Post Judgment Special Set hearings for Division FW since they are referred to a General Magistrate pursuant to Administrative Order 5.104. DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, ALL SPECIAL SET HEARINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED TELEPHONICALLY OR VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE TECHNOLOGY. Most evidentiary hearings cannot be handled remotely. If you believe that your case requires emergency action pursuant to Family Admin. Order 5.203-1/17 or Probate Admin. Order 6.104-11/14, you should file the appropriate motion in writing.
The motion(s) must be filed and docketed with the Clerk of Court prior to requesting a hearing date and time. In keeping with professional courtesy, any party scheduling a hearing shall make a good faith attempt to resolve the matter, undertake reasonable efforts to contact the opposing party/counsel for availability or scheduling conflicts. Send a courtesy copy of the notice and motion to the Court through On-Line Scheduling at least 5 business days before the hearing. Special set hearings may not be cancelled without court order.
Motions for Attorney Fees
Since the Court utilizes a preliminary order with instructions to be followed in advance of the hearing, all Motions for attorney's fees and/or costs shall attach a document detailing the time records and requested rate(s). The moving party shall request the time for the hearing with the Judicial Assistant via telephone or email.
Interpreters for County Civil Cases
The Court does not provide interpreters for County Civil or Family Division cases. It is the responsibility of the party needing an interpreter to bring to court an interpreter who is certified, language skilled, provisionally approved or who is registered with the Office of State Court Administrator as required by Rule 2.560 and Rule 2.565 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. For further information or for assistance locating an interpreter, please visit Court Interpreters. Persons unable to obtain an interpreter must bring someone to assist. The Court will determine if they are qualified to interpret the proceedings.
Pre-trial hearings are set every other Tuesdays at 1:30 pm. All small claims cases must go to mediation. Mediation is provided free of charge. If not resolved, the case will be set for trial. If the parties intend to waive Pre-Trial Conference, the parties should file the signed Stipulation with the Clerk of Courts and then send a copy of the signed stipulation as a "PDF" along with a Proposed Order in "WORD" format thru our On-Line Scheduling for Judge's signature. Once the Order has been esigned and eserved to you then the hearing is cancelled. If the Order is not signed, parties may have to appear at the hearing unless told otherwise.
PIP Pretrial hearings are set along with Small Claims Pre-trial hearings every other Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 pm. All parties shall submit the Palm Beach County form for waiver of appearance and stipulation to the civil rules of civil procedure prior to the hearing using the OnLine Scheduling system.
Landlord/Tenant hearings are set and noticed by the Court for Tuesday afternoons after review of motions sent to the Court or when the Court decides mediation is appropriate. Mediation is provided at no charge for Residential Mediation and only $60 per side for Commercial Mediation.
All non-jury trials are set by the court with a pre-trial procedure order. Jury trials will be transferred to be heard in the Daniel T.K. Hurley Courthouse in West Palm Beach.
Please note that no long distance calls will be returned. Telephonic appearance is not permitted for attorneys or defendants in Criminal cases. Except for Criminal Cases, Telephonic appearance are permitted if there is no objection by opposing party and with the approval of the Court. A motion and order must be provided for each request to appear telephonically. Telephonic appearances for attorneys and/or parties on non-evidentiary hearings are coordinated through a vendor chosen by the party such as CourtCall, CourtScribes, or Zoom. The Court takes no position on which vendor is used. Be advised that when there are multiple cases set at the same time such as UMC or Case Management Dockets, the Court will take parties who are present in-court before parties participating telephonically.
Pro Se litigants that have access to email are encouraged to fill out and file with the Clerk an email designation form. This will allow the Court to submit orders to the parties via email instead of sending in the U.S. Postal Service which will greatly reduce the time for the parties communication with each other and the Court.
When submitting proposed orders to the Court for review, the Court prefers all orders to be submitted in WORD format through Online Scheduling System. Since the criminal divisions are not set up to receive orders via OLS, orders in criminal cases may be submitted as a WORD attachment by email to CAD-DivisionY@pbcgov.org for felonies or CAD-DivisionBG@pbcgov.org for misdemeanors and criminal traffic cases. Any supporting documents for the Court to review should be e-filed with the clerk and then submitted as pdf attachments to the order under "options". If you do not attach supporting documents, there will be a delay in signing orders since documents filed with the clerk's office can take 24 - 72 hours to be visible to the Judge. If the order involves an older case where the supporting documents are not visible in the court file i.e. party is seeking a continuing order of garnishment based upon a final judgment issued in 2005, a copy of the signed final judgment should be e-filed and provided as an attachment for the court to review.
Any final orders that will be recorded in the public records must comply with Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.520 and should contain a 3" x 3" blank space in the upper right hand corner of the first page and a 1" x 3" space in the top right corner of any subsequent page.
Questions and Advice
Neither the Judge nor the Judicial Assistant can give you legal advice regarding how to proceed with your case. For assistance, you can contact the Self-Help Center at 561-355-6781 located on the first floor of the Main West Palm Beach Courthouse. Additionally, the Palm Beach County Bar Association has a lawyer referral and information service at 561-687-3266