Video highlights steps to protect health in Florida’s courts and Clerks’ offices

New expectations at the Manatee County Judicial Center and courthouses around the state are highlighted in a video released Tuesday, June 23rd, to prepare and assure people about changes to protect their health. A return to the Judicial Center and other courthouses in Florida during the ongoing public health emergency includes new steps such as touchless temperature checks, health screenings, physical distancing, and customers are strongly being encouraged to wear masks.

The Manatee County Clerk of Court and other courts and clerks of court throughout the state are taking proactive steps to protect health and safety as courthouses are opening to greater access. A phased plan to return to full operations has begun in many courthouses while juries remain suspended and most court proceedings are conducted remotely.

Criteria for reopening and procedures for safeguarding health are part of recommendations from the COVID-19 Workgroup created by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady. The group includes stakeholders from the courts, clerks of court, attorneys, and sheriffs. The video includes scenes showing the implementation of new standards at multiple courthouses. It is a joint production of the State Courts System, the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, and The Florida Bar.

“The public, and all our stakeholders, need to know what we’re doing to address health concerns as we expand operations,” said Judge Lisa T. Munyon, an Orlando circuit judge and chair of the COVID-19 Workgroup. “It’s critical the message get across, particularly as we prepare to return to jury trials. I think this goes a long way to help.”

While jury trials remain suspended, pilot projects to test innovations in five circuits are set to begin soon. Chief Judges may begin jury trials as soon as 30 days after judicial circuits successfully transition to phase 2 of reopening, as described in the most recent updates to orders from Canady about expanded access.

“We are working hard to protect our customers and our staff in order to provide continuous access to the courts,” said Manatee County Clerk and Comptroller Angel Colonneso, who is also the Vice President of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers.

The video, and more resources, are available at a website created for the campaign to raise awareness about new procedures at www.Steps2SafeCourts.org.  It’s part of an ongoing joint communications campaign to inform people about the new requirements and reassure those who must come to courthouses around the state. Another video aimed at potential jurors will be released in coming weeks.