M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building
190 Governmental Center
Pensacola, FL 32502
This division of the County Court handles all Small Claims cases and landlord/tenant eviction 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 party’s email address. All communications with this division of the court are by e-portal and email.
Because of the types of cases handled by Division V, most parties do not have an attorney assisting them. Please understand that we cannot give you legal advice. You cannot call the office and ask to have a message given to the judge. You must make all requests in writing and file the request with the Clerk of Court. A copy of any document or request you file with the Clerk of Court must also be sent to the opposing party at that same time. If necessary, a hearing will be scheduled in the courtroom to discuss your request, or depending on the issue, the court may be able to enter a written Order which will be emailed to both sides. Remember to always include your “mailing” address as well as your “email” address on all paperwork filed. If you know the opposing party’s email and mailing addresses, they should be included as well.
Any issue which you believe needs to be brought to the judge’s attention regarding your case must be in the form of a written Motion and filed with the Clerk of Court. A copy of anything you file must be sent to the other side at that same time. Remember that we do not know what you have filed with the Clerk of Court, so please provide a copy to the court by emailing . If you need to schedule a hearing, notify the court of a settlement, request a continuance or file a Voluntary Dismissal, please send the request or notification by email. Be sure to copy both sides with any email sent to Division V.
If you need to contact the court by phone regarding a case, we ask that you contact us between 8:30 and 4:30 (Central Time). We are generally closed between 12:00 noon and 1:00 pm for lunch. We do have two rotating phone lines so if we are unable to take your call, please leave a detailed message. We return all calls as quickly 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 up on the computer before returning your call so that we are better prepared to help you.
ALL HEARINGS ARE CONDUCTED IN A COURTROOM. Division V does not hold any hearings in chambers. You must wear appropriate clothing to be admitted into the courtroom. Shorts, capri pants and flip-flops are not allowed in the courtroom.
If you are preparing a Notice of Hearing, please make sure that the Notice directs the parties to report to the courtroom assigned to Judge Pat Kinsey that day. There are two judges with the last name of Kinsey so we ask that you always include the judge’s first name so that participants get to correct courtroom. We also ask you to include language in the Notice regarding proper clothing required for the courtroom from the paragraph above.
Different courtrooms are assigned to the various judges each day. The actual courtroom assigned for the hearing date will not be assigned until that morning. Courtroom assignments for the day are posted by the elevators on all floors of the courthouse. The Hearing Notice should direct the parties to check the list by the elevator for the courtroom assigned to Judge Pat Kinsey the day of the hearing. Remember, all Division V hearings are conducted in a courtroom. Never direct the parties to the judge’s chambers.
If you are an out-of-town attorney, plaintiff, defendant or witness and can be reached through a local phone number or a toll-free phone number, generally we can set up a telephonic hearing on your Small Claims case. Unfortunately, due to the number of cases scheduled to be heard during our “one afternoon a month” for Small Claims Pretrial Conferences, we are unable to accommodate telephonic hearings. Remember that we are located in the Central Time Zone. If you are not, be sure that your Hearing Notice includes the time for both time zones, for example: 1:30 pm (Central), 2:30 pm (Eastern) to avoid confusion.
If you are making a telephonic appearance it is important that you notify the person who answers the phone in your office that the judge will be calling at the appointed time and needs to be connected with the person who will be appearing. Most telephonic hearings are scheduled for only 10 or 15 minutes. If the person answering the phone is not prepared, you may miss your hearing by running out of time before the proper person is on the line. If the hearing must be rescheduled because you are not available or connected to the courtroom in a timely manner, your telephonic privileges may be jeopardized. We are unable to make long distance calls from the courtroom. If you do not have a local number or a toll free number, you must set up a conference call and include that information in your hearing notice.
We work very hard to coordinate convenient times for hearings with all interested parties. If we cannot reach you by phone and you do not respond by email to our request to set a hearing, we will go ahead and set a time and you will receive a Hearing Notice without having the opportunity to participate in scheduling. We have a very large docket and are unable to make repeated attempts to coordinate with unresponsive or uncooperative parties.
Summary Judgment or Summary Disposition hearings are generally set for only 5 minutes unless you specify the need for additional time. Show Cause Hearings on replevin cases are typically set for 10 minutes. Final Hearings on delinquent debt cases are set for 60 minutes. If you believe you need additional time, a case management conference will be scheduled. Please be sure to bring your “calendar” to the hearing as these quick 15 minute case management hearings are primarily used to set the case on the docket for a time certain.
Telephonic hearings are not permitted for Show Cause Hearings “in aid of execution.” That is, if the hearing is set because the other side neglected to return the Fact Information Sheet or Interrogatories (in aid of execution), you must be present in the courtroom. The defendant will be given an opportunity to complete the form(s) in open court and you must be available to review the documents as complete and acceptable for you or your client.
All jury trials are schedule for 8:15 am on 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 the trial. Generally, once a jury is selected, we take a 10-minute break and proceed to opening statements. Lunch is restricted to 30 minutes and the jury is provided lunch served in the jury deliberation room. Witnesses are subjected to direct, cross and then re-direct only. It is rare that a jury trial cannot be completed the same day as jury selection.
A Pretrial Conference is conducted the Friday morning preceding the Monday trial date. Your Pretrial Memo is due by noon (Central Time) on the Monday one week before the trial. The proposed jury instructions and verdict form are due at that time, one week pre-trial. Final changes may be made to the instructions and verdict form at the Friday Pretrial Conference. Please read the Pretrial Order carefully. Failure to comply with the cut-off dates may result in sanctions including inability to use undisclosed witnesses, documents or delay of your reserved jury trial date.
Eviction cases are heard every day beginning at 11:30 am as these cases are heard on an expedited basis. When a tenant files an Answer asking to fight the eviction, a 5-minute Determine Rent Hearing is immediately scheduled and a Hearing Notice is emailed to the parties. It is absolutely critical that we have an email address for both parties because these hearings are set so quickly. In addition, we ask that you provide a phone number where the parties can be reached during business hours.
If you are a landlord, you must bring your entire file with you to court for each hearing. It is essential that you bring the ledger sheet reflecting all the payments made by the tenant so that the amount of past due rent can be determined exactly. If you do not have documentation the court may be unable to determine the proper amount due resulting in a delay. If you are a tenant, you must bring any cancelled checks or receipts which show payments you believe were not properly credited to your account if you dispute the amount reflected on the Three Day Notice.
The court will enter a written Determine Rent Order at the hearing. The tenant must deposit the past due rent not later than 4:45 pm with the Clerk of Court if the tenant wishes to fight the eviction. If the rent is not deposited that same day as the hearing by 4:45 pm, the eviction is automatically granted at 8:00 am the following day. The deposit must be in cash or by credit card. If the money is deposited, the trial is held the following day at 11:30 am. When possible, the court will have a mediator present to assist the parties in reaching an agreement prior to the trial.
SMALL CLAIMS PRETRIAL CONFERENCES
Small Claims cases are set for a Pretrial Conference the second Wednesday of each month. There are two separate dockets. The cases set for the 1:00 pm docket are those which qualify for mediation pursuant to the Administrative Order. After opening remarks by the judge in the courtroom beginning at 1:00 pm, a mediator will meet with the parties in a private conference room and attempt to settle the case. If the case settles, a written agreement is prepared and signed by the parties. If a settlement is not reached, the mediator will return with the parties to the courtroom so the case can be set for trial within sixty days.
If both parties are represented by counsel by the time of the Small Claims Pretrial Conference, the case does not qualify for mediation and the case is set for trial within the sixty-day speedy trial period. If both parties are represented by counsel, they may file a written Waiver of Pretrial Conference for the court’s review by following the applicable Small Claims Rule.
All parties attending a Small Claims Pretrial Conference must bring their calendars with them as the case will either settle or be set for trial in open court. If you intend to have an attorney help you with your case, you must have hired your attorney by this time. There will be no continuances granted to allow the parties to have extra time to find an attorney.
The second docket starts at 1:30 pm. These cases are typically cases regarding credit cards or loans which are delinquent. The plaintiff is represented by counsel and normally the person being sued is representing themselves. The court is able to “court-order” a payment plan if the defendant is able to start making payments on the account. Payments are normally between $50.00 and $100.00/month and payable on a day which is convenient for the defendant. If the defendant wishes to contest the debt, the case is set for trial. Normally this trial date is about 90 days after the Small Claims Pretrial Conference to permit the parties additional time to prepare and attempt to settle the debt.
Bench trials are generally set for the afternoon beginning at 1:30 pm in a courtroom which is assigned on the list by the elevators. Remember that there are two judges with the last name of Kinsey. Small Claims cases are handled by Judge Pat Kinsey. You must be inside the courtroom (not in the lobby) if you have a court appearance. No one will escort you into the courtroom. It is your responsibility to be inside the courtroom and ready to go on time. Remember that proper courtroom attire is required. No shorts or capri pants are allowed in the courtroom.
If your case settles before your scheduled trial or hearing date, please notify the court by email at .
The Escambia Clerk of Court will no longer accept proposed Order or Judgments through the eportal. All proposed Orders and/or Judgments must be submitted directly to the presiding judge in Word format through the JA’s eportal email at Esc.Div5Eserve. You must not prepare these Orders or Judgments with “block” formatting or in a manner where the judge is unable to easily make changes. If you want to have a Fact Information Sheet included with a Final Judgment, that form must also be submitted in Word format with the proposed Judgment. Please include email addresses for the parties if you have them as we are “paperless.” All Orders and Judgments must have the parties’ addresses in the style of the case so that, if necessary, they can be folded and sent to a party without an email address by using a “window envelop.” All supporting documents must be efiled in the eportal prior to submitting your proposed Order or Judgment.
The quickest and easiest way to set a hearing is to send an email to the court’s JA, Michelle Ferguson, 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 idea that you have efiled a Motion unless you send us an email notification. The Clerk of Court does not notify us that you have a pending motion or request.
Your email requesting a hearing should include the case number, copy of the Motion, amount of time you are requesting for the hearing and proposed time frame for the hearing (is it urgent or time sensitive?). You must copy the opposing party with your request. You will receive an email reply with available dates and times. Once the parties agree to a date and time certain, an email confirmation will be sent. We try to accommodate everyone’s schedules in setting hearings, but if you fail to respond, we will set a date and time and send you a Hearing Notice. Remember that we are in the Central Time Zone. If you are not, be sure to include the hearing time in both Central Time Zone and your Time Zone to avoid confusion.
One a hearing is scheduled, you must not add additional Motions or other matters without written confirmation from the JA that sufficient time can be allotted and reserved.