AO 20-42 (2) | PROCEDURES FOR COURT PROCEEDINGS AND DEPOSITIONS HELD USING WEB-BASED VIDEO CONFERENCING PLATFORMS
(b) On May 11, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court approved the Best Practices on the Management of Evidence in Remote Hearings in Civil and Family Cases (“Best Practices”)1 developed by the Workgroup on Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19.
(c) On June 23, 2021, the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit exited Phase 2 operations, transitioning to more in-person court proceedings. However, some court proceedings are able to be adequately conducted using web-based video conferencing tools, and the development of procedures and guidelines for the use of web-based video conferencing platforms for such court proceedings, depositions, and sworn statements is imperative to maintaining the integrity of the judicial branch.
(d) In accordance with the authority vested in the Chief Judge by Article V, section 2(d) of the Florida Constitution, section 43.26, Florida Statutes, Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, it is hereby ORDERED:
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL COURT PROCEEDINGS, DEPOSITIONS, AND SWORN STATEMENTS(1) Nothing in this Administrative Order limits the discretion of the presiding judge to render appropriate decisions or to establish other procedures consistent with this Administrative Order and the Best Practices developed by the Supreme Court COVID-19 Workgroup. However, the presiding judge should ensure that any procedure independently established by the judge is equitable and does not result in an advantage to one party. It is incumbent upon attorneys and self-represented litigants to inquire with the presiding judge to determine whether the judge has established procedures in addition to those set forth herein.
(2) All parties appearing remotely for a court proceeding, deposition, or sworn statement shall not engage in any unprofessional conduct.
(b) The person administering the oath shall be a non-interested party, and shall not be required to remain on the video conference after administering the oath, unless such person is a court reporter responsible for recording and/or transcribing the proceedings.
(ii) Not use a virtual background.
(iii) Turn off all electronic devices except for the device enabling participation in the hearing and refrain from exchanging any electronic or written messages during their testimony. Any violation may be sanctioned by the presiding judge as permitted by law.
II. ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE(1) The following procedures and rules apply to the introduction of evidence in any court proceeding that is held using web-based video conferencing tools:
(ii) Pre-mark, in numerical order (e.g., Pl. Ex. 1, Def. Ex. 1, etc.), all evidence, excluding impeachment evidence, that is to be admitted or offered and to upload such evidence to the 17th Judicial Circuit’s Court Management System (Supporting Documents).2
(c) The presence of an in-court clerk is required for any evidentiary hearing or trial held remotely. The in-court clerk shall create an evidence log of all exhibits admitted into evidence during the proceeding.
(d) Any evidence log created by an in-court clerk may contain the following language: This evidence log/exhibit list was created during the hearing/trial listed herein. The parties were ordered by the Court to file the evidence, consistent with this evidence log/exhibit list, subsequent to the hearing/trial.
(e) Immediately following the hearing, the in-court clerk shall email the evidence log to the judicial assistant for the presiding judge. Upon receipt, the judicial assistant shall email the evidence log to all counsel of record and/or selfrepresented parties.
(f) Filing of Evidence
(ii) In cases where there is only one attorney of record, the attorney, as an officer of the court, shall comply with all provisions herein regarding the filing of evidence.
(iii) The Clerk of Court shall accept “paper” evidence from self-represented litigants.
(iv) If the presiding judge determines only the original writing, record, or photograph or other physical evidence is necessary to be admitted into evidence, after the hearing or trial, the moving party shall contact the Clerk of Courts evidence division (954-831-5537) to coordinate the Clerk of Courts’ taking possession of the exhibit.
III. DEPOSITIONS(1) General provisions applicable to all depositions
(b) Web-Based Video Conferencing Depositions.
(ii) The party noticing or scheduling the deposition shall be the “host” for purposes of the video conference.
(iii) The notice shall include the information regarding the web-based video conferencing platform to be used along with attendance details or instructions.
(iv) Any deposition taken using a web-based video conferencing platform may be recorded without leave of court or stipulation of the parties, provided the deposition is taken in accordance with Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.310(b)(4).
(b) Nothing in this Administrative Order supersedes or otherwise vacates the requirements of Administrative Order 2020-41-Crim (Electronic Recording of Criminal Discovery Depositions).
|/s/ Jack Tuter
|Jack Tuter, Chief Judge
2/ A video tutorial on how to upload supporting documents to CMS is available here.