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Hillsborough County courthouse now open with changes due to COVID-19

By: Jeff Lieser Posted on: Saturday, June 6th, 2020

The Hillsborough County Courthouse has implemented changes to how it handles hearings as it opens from the COVID-19 shutdown. Your case may be rescheduled or heard remotely via Zoom or a similar video chat system. To find out whether your hearing will be continued or heard via video chat, visit the Thirteenth Judicial Court’s website. Once on the website, click on View Latest News for COVID-19 Information and Updates, then Judicial Directory. Under judicial directory, click on your Judge’s name or division. Once the Judge’s page comes up, click on the Procedures/Preferences link for how your hearing will be handled, and for the instructions for appearing and participating electronically.

If your hearing is still scheduled to be held at the courthouse, you must wear a mask or cloth face covering while you are in the courthouse.

Do not bring anyone with you to your hearing, as they will not be admitted into the courthouse. If your attorney directs you to bring someone, you may bring that person or people with you. The number of people allowed in court is limited due to social distancing.

Viewing and Changing Case Information

You can see your case information by visiting the clerk’s website. If you need to change your address with the Clerk of Court, you must complete a Designation of Current Mailing and Email Address form, which is located under the Forms section on the clerk’s website. Email the form or mail it to the Clerk of the Circuit Court, PO Box 3360, Tampa, FL 33601.

Before Coming to the Courthouse

So that all hearings run as smoothly as possible during these trying times, please be prepared to answer the following questions. If you answer “Yes” to any of them, contact your attorney for additional guidance prior to coming to the courthouse:

  • Have you or anyone in your household come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days?
  • Have you experienced any of the symptoms and signs listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including fever, cough, chills, shortness of breath, muscle pain, repeated shaking with chills, headache, loss of taste or smell (that is new, not a prior symptom because of other illness), and/or a sore throat within the last 14 days?
  • Have you traveled internationally or on a cruise within the last 30 days?
  • Let the court or your attorney know if you do not have a phone or internet access.
  • Visit a video call website such as Zoom for guides and additional information.
  • Download the video application the day before your hearing and test the microphone, speakers, and camera. Most video call websites have a test link to help you test your equipment.
  • Dress appropriately – as you would if you were to appear in person.
  • Remove all distractions from the room, including pets and children (you may need to get a babysitter).
  • During the hearing, keep your device on mute while you are not speaking to limit feedback and background noise.
  • Email the court prior to the hearing if you have evidence to present to the court. Contact your Judge’s division if you have documents or witnesses you want available for your hearing.
  • Ask others in your home to refrain from using the Wi-Fi network to ensure that you have the best possible connection.
  • Do not ignore the virtual hearing. You must notify your attorney or the court if you cannot attend the hearing.
  • Do not talk over others. When more than one person is talking, it is very difficult for the Judge and others to hear. Instead, wait until the Judge asks you to speak.
  • Do not do other things while you are on the call. If you are distracted by multitasking, you may miss important information or miss a request from the Judge.

Remember to contact your attorney, the clerk, or the Judge’s judicial assistant as directed above if you have any concerns prior to your hearing.