M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building
190 Governmental Center
Pensacola, FL 32502
This is intended as an overview of procedures in an effort to assist all parties handling cases in Division 5. This division of the County Court handles all Small Claims cases and all Landlord/tenant cases. This division has been “paperless” since May 1, 2016. Please make sure that any paperwork you file with the Clerk of Court includes your email address and, if you have it, include the opposing parties’ email address.
Because of the type of cases handled by Division Five, most plaintiffs and defendants are representing themselves; that is, they do not have an attorney assisting them. Please note that the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits us from providing legal advice on your case. You cannot contact the court’s office and ask to have a “message” given to the judge about your case. Any issues regarding your case must be put in writing and filed with the Clerk of Court and a copy sent to the opposing party. If necessary, a hearing will be scheduled on your case or, depending on the issue, the court may be able to enter a written Order which will be emailed to both sides. Please include your email address on any paperwork you file with the Clerk of Court. If you know the email address of the other party, please include that as well.
Any issue which you believe needs to be brought to the judge’s attention regarding your case must be filed with the Clerk of Court in the form of a written Motion with a copy sent to the other side. An email request sent to the judicial assistant (JA) at is the preferred method for setting a hearing, cancelling a hearing, checking on the status of an Order or Judgment or letting us know if you will be filing a written response to the other side’s Motion. Be sure to copy both sides with any email to the court.
If you need to contact the court by phone regarding a case, we ask that you contact us between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm (Central Time). We are generally closed between 12:00 and 1:00 pm for lunch. We do have two rotating lines so if we are unable to take your call, please leave a detailed message. We return all calls as promptly as possible. We can be reached at 850-595-4424. When leaving a voice message, please include the case number, so that the case can be pulled and we are better prepared to help you when we return your call.
All hearings are conducted in a courtroom. YOU MUST WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING TO BE ADMITTED TO THE COURTROOM. SHORTS, OR CAPRI PANTS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE COURTROOM. Please make sure your Hearing Notice directs the parties to report to the courtroom assigned to Judge Pat Kinsey that day. Please remember that there are two judges named “Kinsey.” It is important that your Hearing Notice include Judge “Pat” Kinsey so that the litigants go to the correct courtroom. We request that you include the statement that proper courtroom attire is required on your Hearing Notice. Courtroom assignments are listed by the elevators on all floors in the courthouse each day so the Hearing Notice should direct the parties to the courtroom assigned the day of the hearing as designated on the list by the elevators. Division Five does NOT conduct any hearings in chambers.
If you are an out-of-town attorney, plaintiff or defendant, telephonic hearings may be allowed for most hearings so long as you have a “local” or toll free number. Because of the volume of cases scheduled for Small Claims Pre-Trial Conferences, we are unable to accommodate requests for telephonic appearances at these Small Claims Pre-Trials. Please remember that we are located in the Central Time Zone when calling us and when scheduling your hearings. If applicable, we ask that all Hearing Notices include both your local Time Zone as well as our Central Time Zone to avoid confusion.
If you are making a telephonic appearance, it is important that you notify the person who answers your toll-free (or local) number that the court will call at the appointed time. Please understand that because our docket is so heavy, we are setting hearings every five, ten or fifteen minutes. As a result, if the call is not immediately connected to the attorney handling the hearing, there will not be sufficient time remaining to handle the hearing. If the hearing must be rescheduled because you are not available at the appointed time, your future telephonic privileges may be jeopardized. We cannot make long distance calls from the courtroom so you must have a toll-free or “local” number or set-up a conference call (at your expense) and include that information on the Hearing Notice.
We work very hard to coordinate convenient times for hearings with all interested parties, but if we cannot reach you after several tries, we will go ahead and set a time and you will be sent a Hearing Notice. Summary Judgment hearings are typically set for 5 minutes unless you specify additional time is required. Show Cause hearings on replevin cases are set for 10 minutes. Final hearings are set for 60 minutes on delinquent credit card cases unless you request additional time. Other Final Hearings are scheduled for a 15 minute Case Management Conference conducted in open court by the judge. The court will set your case for final hearing at the Case Management Conference so be sure to bring your calendar to the hearing or have it available if you are appearing telephonically.
Telephonic hearings will not be granted for Show Cause Hearings (in aid of execution). That is, if you call to set a Show Cause Hearing because the Fact Information Sheet or post-judgment Interrogatories/Request to Produce have not been returned, you (or local counsel) must personally appear in the courtroom for the hearing. The defendant will be given an opportunity to complete the form(s) in open court. You must be present to review the completed form(s) and determine if the information is complete and acceptable for you and your client. The court cannot make this determination for you.
All jury trials are scheduled for a Monday. A Pre-Trial Order will be issued once the case is set for a date certain. Each and every Monday is available for a jury trial. A venire is present and ready for selection at 8:15 am on the morning of trial. Generally, once the jury is selected we take a 10 minute break before opening statements. The lunch break is scheduled for 30 minutes. Lunch is provided for the jury in the jury deliberation room by the courthouse snack bar. Witnesses are subjected to direct, cross, and re-direct only. It is rare that a jury trial cannot be completed the same day as jury selection.
A Pre-Trial Conference is conducted the Friday morning prior to the Monday jury trial. Your Pre-Trial Memorandum is due by noon (Central Time) on the Monday which is one week prior to the scheduled trial. You should be prepared to supply the court with the proposed jury instructions and verdict form with your Pre-Trial Memorandum a week before the trial. Final changes will be determined on the verdict form and jury instructions at the Friday Pre-Trial Conference. Please read and carefully consider the Pre-Trial Order issued once the case is set for a date certain. Failure to timely comply with the cut-off dates determined in the Pre-Trial Order may result in delay of your reserved date for jury trial.
LANDLORD/TENANT EVICTION CASES
Landlord/Tenant eviction cases are heard every day beginning at 11:30 am. When a tenant files an Answer contesting the eviction, a 5 minute Determine Rent Hearing is immediately scheduled and a Hearing Notice is emailed. We are now “paperless” and need an email address for both parties. Please make sure to include them on anything you file with the Clerk of Court. Also, please include a phone number where you can be reached during business hours. If you are a landlord, it is very important that you bring your file containing all of your records on the case to court with you. Especially important is your ledger sheet reflecting all of the payments due from the beginning of the tenancy and payments made or past due. That is, you will need to show the court how you determined the amount of past due rent requested in the Three Day Notice. If you are a tenant, you must bring your cancelled checks or receipts or other proof you have of payments made while you have been living at this location.
Once the court determines the amount of money necessary to bring the rent current, an Order will be entered and the tenant will have until 4:45 pm that same day as the Determine Rent Hearing to deposit that amount with the Clerk of Court. The money must be deposited by cash or credit card only. If the money is deposited, a final hearing (trial) will be conducted the following day at 11:30 am at which time the landlord must prove that they took the proper steps for the eviction. The tenant then has the opportunity, if necessary, to show that they have a legally sufficient defense to the eviction. The court will attempt to obtain the services of a mediator whenever possible to help resolve the case prior to beginning the 11:30 am final hearing.
SMALL CLAIMS PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES
Small Claims cases are generally set for a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) the second Wednesday of each month beginning at 1:00 pm. The court will attempt to help the parties reach an agreement whenever possible. A court-ordered payment plan is possible if the defendant agrees to accept responsibility and is able to make a “reasonable monthly payment.” If both parties are represented by counsel, a trial date is set within sixty days of the PTC unless both parties agree to waive their right to a speedy (within 60 days) trial.
If both parties are representing themselves or if only one side is represented by counsel, a mediator is present to help resolve the case prior to going before the judge. There is no charge for this service. If the case is resolved, a written stipulated agreement is prepared and signed. If the case is not resolved, the parties are directed to return to the courtroom to set the case for trial. The trial must be set within 60 days of the PTC unless both parties agree to waive their right to a speedy trial. Jury trials are set for a “pick and go” trial on a Monday. Bench trials are generally set on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon or a Friday. Be sure to bring your calendar with you so that the hearing can be set at a time convenient for you. Once a hearing is scheduled, it will not be continued absent a legally sufficient last minute unanticipated emergency. If your case settles, please notify us as soon as possible so that the time can be given to another litigant.
If an issue comes up in your case and you need the court to intervene, please file a written Motion with the Clerk of Court. You must call or send an email to set your hearing as we have no way of knowing that you have filed a motion with the Clerk.
The Escambia County Clerk of Court will no longer accept proposed Orders through the Florida Court E-Filing Portal. All proposed Orders must be submitted directly to the presiding judge. You may either submit the proposed order via hand delivery or U.S. Mail or you may email (preferred method) it in Microsoft Word format directly to Judge Kinsey’s Judicial Assistant at . Please do not do both as it causes confusion and twice as much time to respond while we try to ascertain if there is duplication or not. Important: Please either attach supporting documents to the email or verify with the Clerk’s website that all supporting documents have been docketed before sending your email to the JA.
The quickest and easiest way to set a hearing is to send an email to the court’s JA at . Be sure to copy the opposing party with any emails to the judge’s office. Include a copy of the Motion and proposed Order as applicable. Remember, we do not have any way to know you have filed a Motion. If you do not copy us with the Motion or call/email to let us know that you have filed it, we are unaware that you have an issue which needs the court’s attention.
Your email requesting a hearing should include the case number, copy of the motion and amount of time you are requesting for the hearing. The JA will respond to the email giving available dates and times. Once the parties agree to a date and time, email confirmation should be immediately sent to the JA. We try to accommodate everyone’s schedules in setting hearings, but if you fail to respond, we will set the hearing and send out a Hearing Notice. Remember that we cover two time zones: Central and Eastern. All Hearing Notices should include the times in both time zones as applicable. Also, we have two Judges with the last name of Kinsey. Be sure to include Judge “PAT” Kinsey in the Notice to avoid confusion.
Once a Hearing is scheduled, you MUST NOT add additional Motions or other matters to be included during that reserved time without the written confirmation from the JA that sufficient time has been reserved.
If you are able to resolve the issues without the need for a hearing, please notify the court as soon as possible so that the reserved time can be used for other litigants. A written Cancellation of Hearing should be filed with the Clerk of Court with a copy emailed to the court at .