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Supreme Court allows remote administration of legal oaths

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Court also postpones April oral arguments and cancels the SC Teacher Institute

Chief Justice Charles CanadyChief Justice Charles Canady issued an order suspending rules that prohibit the administration of legal oaths using remote communications technology.

The March 18 directive (Administrative Order No. SC20-16) is the latest in a flurry of administrative orders the court has taken in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Canady has authorized notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Florida to swear in witnesses remotely by audio-video communication technology from a location within the state provided they can positively identify the witness. If a witness is not located within Florida, the witness may consent to being put on oath via audio-video communication technology by a person qualified to administer an oath in Florida.

“All rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to remote testimony, depositions, and other legal testimony, including the attestation of family law forms, that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-video communications equipment to administer oaths remotely or to witness the attestation of family law forms, are hereby suspended, and will remain suspended until the expiration of the provisions of paragraph five in In Re: COVID-19 Emergency Procedures in the Florida State Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC20-13 (March 13, 2020), and any orders extending AOSC20-13,” the court said.

In other action, the court also postponed all oral arguments at the Supreme Court scheduled in April. It’s anticipated those arguments will be rescheduled for June.

The court also canceled its Florida Supreme Court Teacher Institute which was set to be held April 19 – 23 in Tallahassee. The institute provides innovative hands-on training to 20 to 25 secondary teachers in Florida each year.

The Supreme Court website is publishing a page listing all counties and linking to those jurisdictions’ websites and COVID-19-related administrative orders, if they have been issued.

The Supreme Court’s administrative orders, along with summaries explaining them, are posted at https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/News-Media/Court-News

General information about the Office of State Courts Administrator emergency operations and plans may be found by visiting https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Emergency-Preparedness/COVID-19-Information-and-Updates

The Florida Bar is also providing information and updates at www.floridabar.org/covid19 to centralize communications to all Bar members, including court announcements, cancellations, rescheduled meetings, and any other matters that affect lawyers and their clients.

The Clerks of Court have also created a webpage with links to individual clerk’s websites, which are being frequently updated with new announcements and resources.

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