With the rise in COVID-19 cases around the state and in an effort to minimize person-to-person contact that could spread the virus, Miami-Dade courts continue to operate under Phase 2 guidelines set forth by The Florida Supreme Court.
Phase 2 operations require minimal in-person contact and strict adherence to appropriate protective measures. These phased guidelines were designed to help Circuit Court chief justices better determine appropriate operations during the pandemic, meaning they remain unable to hold most in-person proceedings.
Jury Trials Temporarily Suspended
Chief Justice Bertila Soto of Miami-Dade has temporarily suspended jury trials through January 31, 2021. The move is intended to further protect the public and court staff from disease transmission, and is part of a larger initiative implemented by The Florida Supreme Court to regularly assess current COVID-19 data by Circuit Courts to ensure public and employee safety.
Other court actions should continue as scheduled. Trials set for February 1st or later should not require rescheduling at this time. Many proceedings are currently taking place remotely via online meeting software like Zoom to deal with the backlog of cases.
Resumption of suspended jury trial services may begin February 1st, but the number of such hearings will be limited and need to adhere to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) health and safety protocols.
Additional Preventative Measures
In the meantime, Miami-Dade courts are taking three additional preventative steps to blunt transmission of the coronavirus
- Social Distancing on Court Property
This restriction involves maintaining a 6-foot distance between individual persons who are in or waiting to enter a courthouse, and includes related offices on the grounds, such as the clerk of courts or district attorney’s office. Buildings also have floor markers indicating the appropriate amount of space to maintain.
- Mandatory Health Screening by Security Staff
Courthouse visitors will now undergo a quick health screening by security. This process involves questions about any symptoms one may have experienced, as well as a temperature check. Anyone with a 100.4-degree fever or higher or has experienced two or more COVID symptoms mentioned in questioning will be refused entry to the courthouse. Anyone refusing to undergo a health screening will automatically be denied entry.
- Mandatory Face Masks
Face masks must be worn on court premises at all times and can be provided by courthouse security, if necessary. Without one, entry to the courthouse will be denied, and the judge notified.
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