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Rule of Judicial Administration amended to allow judges flexibility during public health emergencies

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The Supreme Court has approved, on its own motion, a Rule of Judicial Administration amendment allowing chief judges during public health emergencies to extend deadlines, time standards, and take related measures.

The court made the change to Rule 2.140(g) on March 13, as Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an administrative order suspending most in-person proceedings, including jury trials, in Florida Courts through at least March 27.

The amended rule gives chief judges the authority to deal with the effects of that order. The new rule, subsection (v), grants:

“[T]he power, upon request of the chief judge of any circuit or district, or sua sponte, in the event of a public health emergency that requires mitigation of the effects of the emergency on the courts and court participants, to enter such order or orders as may be appropriate: to suspend, extend, toll, or otherwise change time deadlines or standards, including, without limitation, those affecting speedy trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings; suspend the application of or modify other requirements or limitations imposed by rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions, including, without limitation, those governing the use of communication equipment and proceedings conducted by remote electronic means; and authorize temporary implementation of procedures and other measures, including, without limitation, the suspension or continuation of civil and criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings, which procedures or measures may be inconsistent with applicable requirements, to address the emergency situation or public necessity.”

The amendment became effective immediately and the court gave interested parties 75 days to file comments.

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