Safe Steps – Protecting Health in Florida’s Courts and Clerks’ Offices
New expectations at courthouses around the state are highlighted in a video released to prepare citizens for health protections. A return to Florida’s courthouses during the ongoing public health emergency includes new steps such as no-touch temperature checks, health screenings, physical distancing, and required masks.
Florida’s courts and Clerks of Court, like Clay County Clerk of Court Tara S. Green, are taking proactive steps to protect health and safety as courthouses resume 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 Clay County Clerks Office proudly assisted locally.
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.
“Clarity and transparency are going to be essential as we begin the process of calling Floridians to jury service. We think this campaign with the Bar and the courts is a key part of getting our message out effectively,” said Polk County Clerk and Comptroller Stacy M. Butterfield, CPA, a member of the COVID-19 Workgroup and past-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 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. Clerk of Court Green advocates statewide for our county’s residents, especially those who need to resume use of courthouse and Clerk’s Office services.