Can the Coronavirus Affect My Court Case?

The coronavirus is here, and it’s impacting most facets of life — for now. Illustration courtesy of the CDC

You can’t turn on the TV or go anywhere without hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19). It is the lead story. The global pandemic is fluid and increasing in seriousness as it spreads. While precautions are being taken for international travel, sporting events, amusement parks, schools, office practices, etc., the Florida court system is taking a proactive approach to COVID-19, too.

Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady recently issued an order outlining a first set of guidelines within the state courts system as it confronts the sickness.

A portion of the order reads as follows: “Whereas the Governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency exists and the Surgeon General and State Health Officer has declared a public health emergency exists, and the Florida State Courts System must, therefore, in an abundance of caution, increase its prevention measures and preparations.”

To no surprise, the majority of the suggested preventive measures revolve around “social distancing.” Per the order: … prudent methods of social distancing to eliminate unnecessary face-to-face contact to the extent consistent with law; sanitary procedures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID- 19 on court property; and the use of technology, electronic documents, electronic communications, and other electronic means of conducting court business to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, to the extent consistent with law.

Now while the coronavirus outbreak might seem like a scene straight out of a dystopian novel, the precautions being taken are not entirely unprecedented. Doomsday preparation comes with the territory — on all levels. In March 2006, the state Unified Supreme Court/Branch Court Emergency Management Group authored a lengthy document outlining how to keep courts open in a medical emergency (“Strategies for Pandemic Influenza and Other Infectious Disease Outbreaks”). The report was revised just late last month, specifically for the coronavirus. Just a few years prior to the 2006 publish date, another worldwide outbreak was making headlines: SARS.

So, the short answer to the headline of this blog post is … likely yes. Nothing is proceeding like normal at this time. Prepare for possible postponements and other unexpected developments; but also expect that your case will still be heard and justice served. The court system has protocols in place and is committed to carry out its duties.

You can keep up with COVID-19 updates and information at
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