Courts catching up after pandemic shutdowns

Jury trials are resuming and changes in the rules are moving cases.

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When COVID-19 forced courthouses to close in March 2020, jury trials temporarily were suspended, but criminal defendants continued to be arrested and civil litigants continued to file cases.

Addressing the Jacksonville Bar Association on Feb. 16, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady said cases again are moving through the justice system as the courts and attorneys work together to reduce the backlog.

“I am proud of the lawyers and judges in Florida for soldiering on and doing a good job adjusting to the challenges,” Canady said.

New case management deadlines put in place to move cases are putting pressure on attorneys and the courts, but clearing the court schedules must be done, Canady said.

“We cannot allow the backlog to sit there. We take aggressive action or the backlog would be there five years from now.”

Canady also commented on a proposal being considered by the state Legislature to add another appellate court district and change some district boundaries. 

If approved, the 4th Circuit Court, comprising Clay, Duval and Nassau counties, could be moved into the 5th District Court of Appeal, which would gain four seats on the bench that could be filled by judges from Northeast Florida.

“The Jacksonville area has not really had proportional representation on the district court,” Canady said.

The JBA’s next member meeting is scheduled April 6 when Jacksonville attorney Mike Tanner, president of The Florida Bar, is the scheduled speaker.