Scott Ritchie

County Judge
Escambia County
County Court
Judicial Assistant: 
Samantha Epley

M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building
190 Governmental Center
Pensacola, FL 32502



The Code of Judicial Conduct precludes judicial assistants from making substantive inquiries of the judge on behalf of any attorney or litigant involved in any action.  The Code prohibits all judges from considering ex parte (one side only) communications.

Judicial Assistants are neither qualified nor able to provide legal advice to anyone.  However, they are more than happy to assist with procedural and scheduling inquiries only.

Any issue to be considered by a judge should be in the form of a motion filed with the Clerk of Court with copies provided to all parties of record.  It is the responsibility of the moving party to set the motion for hearing.

We no longer have paper files so please make sure that any paperwork you file with the Clerk of Court includes your email address and a phone number where you can be reached during business hours.  If you have the opposing parties email address and/or phone number, please include that information on your paperwork as well.  Hearings are scheduled via email correspondence so make sure you monitor your email during the pendency of your case.

If you need to contact our office, you should send us an email.  You must copy the other party with any email you send to our office. Our email address is: .  We answer our phones between 8:30 and 4:30 Monday through Friday.  Our number is 850-595-4424.  Please make sure to include your case number any time you send us an email or leave a phone message.



All proposed orders and judgments must be e-filed through the Florida Courts E-portal at . Please do not e-mail them to the Judicial Assistant.  Beginning February 1, 2023 they will not be accepted via e-mail.

The proposed order or judgment must be in Word and should be in a format that can be easily edited by the court.  Please include the parties’ addresses in the style of the case and provide all e-mail addresses.


Please use the below now that the orders are electronically signed and dated.

DONE AND ORDERED in chambers, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.


If you are requesting the defendant complete a “Fact Information Sheet” you must include that with your proposed order or that section will be deleted from the proposed order.



The quickest and easiest way to set a hearing is to send an email to the court copying all parties, to Attach a copy of the motion.  You must contact us to set a hearing on your motion. The JA will provide date options.  Do not include our office in your scheduling correspondence with the other party. Once all parties settle on a date, then contact and confirm with the JA.   A hearing date is not finalized until confirmation is received from the Court's Judicial Assistant.    

Most hearings are conducted via ZOOM.  Once a hearing is scheduled, you cannot add additional motions or other matters to the hearing without written confirmation form the court’s JA that there is sufficient time reserved.

If you have written materials, photographs, or other documents that you wish to have the court consider as evidence/exhibits in your case, you must file the paperwork with all parties and the Clerk of Court so that is received at least 72 business hours before your scheduled hearing or trial. 

Case law for consideration at a motion hearing should be provided at least five (5) days prior to the scheduled hearing to the judicial assistant via email or hand delivery. If documents exceed twenty (20) pages, delivery must be via hand deliver to the judicial assistant.

If it is determined that a scheduled hearing is no longer necessary, please notify the Judicial Assistant immediately via email.  A Notice of Cancellation must be e-filed, and a courtesy copy should be emailed to the judicial assistant

While we are utilizing Zoom for hearings, we are still a courtroom.  Since this cyber courtroom is going to be both audio and video, acceptable minimum standards for courtroom demeanor and dress sill apply.  Parties and witnesses will still maintain business casual appearance.  Attorneys shall maintain appropriate courtroom attire as if appearing live.



Please remember to put your device on “mute” until the Judge asks you to speak to avoid “feedback” and permit all parties to be heard clearly.  You will be in a virtual waiting room until the time of your hearing or trial.  The court will convene at the appointed time bringing you out of the “waiting room” and into the “courtroom.”  It is your responsibility to be available at the appointed time and ready to join the ZOOM hearing.  You should log into the ZOOM meeting about 10 minutes before the scheduled time for your hearing.  It is very important that you are on time and available in the ZOOM waiting room for your hearing.   If you are not present at the time of your hearing or trial, the case will be handled without you and your input.


By telephone:  1-312-626-6799 or 1-929-205-6099

MEETING ID #:   293 500 4157

For additional information about zoom hearings please visit our website:



Evictions are handled in person at the courthouse.  Once the tenant files a written Answer to the lawsuit with the Clerk of Court, a preliminary hearing is scheduled.  It is very important that we have an email address for both the landlord and tenant.  The preliminary hearing, known as a Determine Rent Hearing, is normally scheduled within a week of receiving the Answer filed by the tenant.  At the Determine Rent Hearing, the court will inform the tenant of their options going forward with the case. 

If you are a landlord, you must contact the Clerk of Court at 8:30 am, the day after your Determine Rent Hearing, to find out if the tenant deposited the money and, as a result, if you are required to attend the final hearing (trial).  If the money was not deposited, as required, and the tenant did not return the keys, voluntarily vacating the property the landlord should send an email to the court at to request a Final Judgment and proceed with the eviction.



There are two types of Small Claims cases.  The first type of Small Claims cases are those cases where a person is suing another person or local business, or a local business is suing a person.  This type of Small Claims case requires the parties to attempt to “mediate” the case with the help of a Supreme Court Certified Mediator prior to proceeding with the court.  If you filed a Small Claims case like this, you will receive a Notice to attend mediation.  If you reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a written agreement for both parties to sign, and the case will be dismissed once the conditions are completed.  If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the case will proceed to a Pretrial Conference.  The date and time of the Pretrial Conference is detailed in the Summons.

The second type Small Claims case typically involves an attorney representing a company which filed a lawsuit to recover on a delinquent credit card account or loan or medical bill, or even for a motor vehicle collision where the defendant’s car was not insured at the time of the accident.  This is a partial list of types of cases filed by an attorney.  These cases do not start with a mediation.  They proceed directly to a ZOOM Pretrial Conference.  At the hearing, the court will address your case and attempt to help the parties resolve the case without having to go to trial.  As the defendant, or person being sued, you are entitled to enter a court-ordered payment plan if you can make a sufficient monthly payment to pay off the old debt.  If you make your monthly payments, your case will be dismissed.  If you agree that the case is based on your old account or debt, but you are unable to set up a monthly payment at this time, the court can enter a Final Judgment.  If a Final Judgment is entered against you, the plaintiff is entitled to have you update your information for them.  This is typically done by having you complete a “Fact Information Sheet.”  If you receive a Fact Information Sheet, you must complete it and return it with all required documents to the plaintiff within 45 days.  If you are asked to complete a Fact Information Sheet, please understand that this is mandatory and there are legal consequences if you fail to complete the form and return it.  Finally, if you have a legally sufficient defense to the lawsuit, the court will set a final hearing (trial), giving you sufficient time to gather your evidence/witnesses and perhaps talk with the other side to try to resolve the case.