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FLORIDA KEYS, March 16, 2020 – Florida Supreme Court Chief Judge Charles Canady has ordered that state courts statewide, including in Monroe County, suspend some proceedings through Friday, March 27, due to the COVID-19 virus epidemic.
“All grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials are suspended,” he said in an emergency administrative order issued March 13.
In the order, Canady said these measures are needed because “a public health emergency exists in the state courts. The emergency requires social distancing to reduce person-to-person transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”
“However, a proceeding that has been commenced may proceed to completion if the presiding judge, with approval of the chief judge [in Monroe, Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones], determines that completion of the proceeding without delay is required by the interests of justice. In addition, the requirement of the double jeopardy clause must be considered in criminal proceedings.”
In addition, “the suspension of time limits under the speedy trial procedure restores additional days equal to the number stated herein.”
On March 9, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a statewide State of Emergency, triggering several emergency measures. On March 13, Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers declared a countywide State of Emergency, prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more on county-owned property. The county State of Emergency lasts until March 22 but will be re-examined on a week-to-week basis.
As of this writing, there have been no publicly documented cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County.