1:30 PM Emergency Dockets are now live!
JAABLOG email sent yesterday at 12:29 PM to Rosemary O’Hara, Editorial Page Editor, Sun Sentinel:
Unlike Miami and PB, the 17th Circuit is conducting essential court hearings and not allowing the public to attend or monitor, including private attorneys with cases on the docket, who must await a call from court to attend or be apprised of their cases. Cases are being discussed and reset without the attorney’s knowledge, as has happened to me on two separate occasions now. I understand I am not alone in this regard. Incarcerated defendants, their friends and families, are obviously highly distraught.
Judge Tuter recently updated an AO to allow public attendance of initial appearances, but not for bond hearings, which often end up incorporating pleas.
(“Family members of defendants appearing for their initial appearance, and witnesses and victims and their family members, if any, may be permitted access to the courthouse for the limited purpose of attending first appearance.”)
Additionally, the First Appearance dockets are being posted on the 17th Circuit’s website, but not the emergency dockets. I have to find them from unofficial sources, and put on the blog. They are only available for public consumption through JAABLOG, as far as I can confirm.
I know everyone is doing the best they can, but there is an easy solution, if the hearings are to remain closed. The hearings can be broadcast, as First Appearances already are, since they are held in the same wired courtroom.
My emails to the Trial Court Administrator, Chief Judge, and PIO are ironically and unfortunately blocked, so I can’t gather anymore information. I am asking for your assistance in securing the public broadcast of substantive, essential hearings, or at least access for attorneys and families or press who wish to attend or monitor. I believe public broadcast is the safest method during the pandemic, and I don’t understand why it isn’t already happening, especially given the potential duration of the social distancing measures and closures currently in place. I am also seeking your assistance in having the emergency dockets posted on the 17th Circuit’s website, as the First Appearances dockets already are.
Lastly, I spoke with Joe Kimok, head of BACDL. He is in agreement that dockets and hearings should be public, and I have copied him on this email …