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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Apr. 21, 202002:59 PM EST

At federal courthouse 'the pace of cases really hasn’t slowed down'

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U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan says court is using telephone and videoconferencing to continue to move forward federal civil and criminal actions.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

It’s not business as usual for the federal court in Jacksonville, but it’s close to it.

“It’s a challenging time. The federal court remains open for business,” said U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, senior judge in the Jacksonville Division of the Middle District of Florida.

The court is using telephone and videoconferencing to continue to move forward federal civil and criminal actions.

Corrigan said filings, motions and orders are being submitted and recorded electronically.

“The pace of cases really hasn’t slowed down,” he said.

Most people who work at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse Downtown are working remotely, with the exception of security personnel and maintenance staff. The building remains open for certain functions, but most areas are closed temporarily, such as the law library.

The court is avoiding in-person proceedings unless it’s necessary. Video proceedings are authorized in most cases, with the consent of the defendant.

Corrigan said jury trials are suspended until at least May 31. When the court is given permission to resume jury trials, perhaps in June, he said it’s not known how long it will take prospective jurors to be comfortable coming to the courthouse and being in a group for jury selection.

When that happens, Corrigan said the court will continue to practice social distancing and safety protocols as directed by federal authorities.

Until the court can return to business as usual, Corrigan said he sees the current challenges as an opportunity.

“We are encouraging lawyers to keep their cases moving and the lawyers are responding to that. I think it can be a moment when the bench and the Bar can show professionalism,” he said.

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