John Brown

Type: 
Circuit Judge
County: 
Okaloosa County
Division: 
1
Judicial Assistant: 
Donna Fought
Address: 

Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex Extension
1940 Lewis Turner Boulevard, Suite 3-439
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

 

Phone: 
850-609-5416
Fax : 
850-609-3073

DIVISION POLICIES / PROCEDURES

This is intended as a brief overview of preferences regarding hearings and procedural matters.  Your courtesies in adhering to these preferences will be greatly appreciated and will make our system one which runs more smoothly and efficiently for all involved.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Code of Judicial Conduct precludes Judicial Assistants from making substantive inquires 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.

Judge Brown nor his Judicial Assistant will discuss any case with any party outside of a hearing.  The JA cannot take a message from a litigant or other person for Judge Brown.

Judicial Assistants are neither qualified nor able to provide legal advice to anyone.  “Legal Advice” means suggesting things that might be filed, evaluating the sufficiency of information on a form, interpretation of any document, evaluating the conduct of an opposing party or lawyer, and giving an opinion about the likelihood of success of an action in litigation. Judicial Assistants may assist with procedural inquiries only. 

Any issue to be considered by the Court 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 coordinate a hearing with all counsel/parties of record and to provide proper notice to all.  Merely filing a motion will not bring the matter before the Court.

Due to the high call volume, your call may go directly to voicemail. Please be patient.  Your call will be returned at the Judicial Assistant’s (“JA”) earliest opportunity. Please do not leave multiple, repetitive and lengthy messages.

Procedures for Scheduling/Cancelling Hearings

Notices of Hearing should state the exact title of the motion to be heard and the docket number of that motion.  If any memorandum or other opposition to a motion is filed after a Notice of Hearing has been filed, please e-mail the JA and opposing counsel with notice that such opposition was filed and the date of filing same.

Please note that the Judge’s office does not receive copies of every motion filed in a case.  It is the responsibility of the moving party to coordinate a hearing with all counsel/parties of record and to provide proper notice to all.

Prior to calling to schedule a hearing the Motion must be filed with the Clerk of Court. If you are requesting an “emergency” hearing you must first contact the Judge’s office and email or fax the “emergency” motion to the Judge’s office. All opposing counsel, if any, should be provided the Motion before contacting the Judge’s office.

When calling to schedule hearings, all attorneys (office staff that have the authority to schedule hearings) must be on the phone. Please have available the case number, case style, type of motion to be scheduled and the amount of time you are requesting for the hearing.  Please let the Judge’s Office know if you are aware of any security issues or special needs for special handling at the time of the hearing.  You may also schedule a hearing via email.  Please include the same information as above, but also add the name of all of the attorneys and who they represent.  You must cc all opposing counsel on this email.

Before scheduling a hearing on a motion in limine, the attorney filing the motion must consult with opposing counsel/parties and attempt to stipulate to some or all of the motion in limine prior to contacting the Judge’s office to schedule a hearing.  All Notices of Hearings on Motions in Limine must state: “The undersigned attorney has consulted with opposing counsel concerning each matter in the motion in Limine referenced in this notice and opposing counsel contest parts of said Motion in Limine except paragraphs: _______”

Immediately notify this office by telephone when a hearing is to be cancelled or if a case has been settled and should be removed from the Court’s docket. Please follow up with a notice of cancellation to the court file so the record is complete.  Only the attorney that scheduled the hearing has the authority to cancel the hearing.

Please provide the Court with a courtesy copy of the Notice of Hearing by E-mail. A courtesy copy of the Motion being heard does not need to be sent with the Notice of Hearing because the Motion should already be filed with the Clerk.

If a case has been set for a hearing and counsel is requesting the setting of additional motions at this previously scheduled hearing (a/k/a piggy backing motions), prior to noticing these additional motions for hearing, you must contact the Judge’s office who will determine if sufficient time is available to have the additional motion(s) heard. You will then be directed to follow the procedures to schedule the additional motion(s) for hearing. Should the initial party who set the motion object to “piggy-backing”, the additional motion(s) will be set at another available time on the Court’s calendar.

Telephone appearance by attorneys at hearings of fifteen minutes or less that are non-evidentiary and are not final hearings are allowed and require no motion or order.  You must notify the JA of the telephonic appearance at the time you schedule the hearing and state: “TELEPHONE APPEARANCE” in said Notice of Hearing. 

All appearances by communication equipment are made through CourtCall.  After a hearing has been confirmed by the JA please contact CourtCall at 888-882-6878 or online at www.courtcall.com for information and instructions for making an appearance by communication equipment. 

Procedures for Motions to/for Withdraw or for Substitution of Counsel

            If you wish to withdraw from representing a defendant, you must fulfill Judicial Admin. Rule 2.505(f)(1) which requires either the written consent of the defendant or a hearing thereon and requires you to include the address of the defendant for service purposes in the proposed Order allowing you to withdraw.

If you wish to be substituted as counsel for the defendant, Rule 2.505(e)(2) requires the motion to be signed by both the withdrawing and the substituting attorney and the defendant.  

Procedures for Dismissal

Final dispositions, settlements and closing reopened cases.

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure require a final disposition form shall be filed with the clerk by the prevailing party at the time of the filing of the order or judgment which disposes of the action.  If the action is settled without a court order or judgment being entered, or dismissed by the parties, the plaintiff or petitioner immediately shall file a final disposition form with the clerk.

When an action is settled and the terms of the settlement provide that the court will retain jurisdiction to enter a final judgment upon failure of the settlement, the action should nevertheless be disposed of with the Court retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.  This may be accomplished by providing an Order adopting the settlement (attaching a copy thereof), reserving jurisdiction and disposing of the action.  A final disposition form must be provided with the proposed order adopting the settlement.  The instructions to the final disposition form provide: “(J) Disposed by Judge – a judgment or disposition is reached by the judge in a case that is not dismissed and in which no trial has been held.  Includes stipulations by parties, conditional  judgment … and any matter in which a judgment is entered excluding cases disposed of by default…”

After an action is disposed of, there are many filings which “re-open” the action (e.g. Motions to Compel Fact Information Sheets, Motions for Writs of Possession, Motions for Writs of Garnishment, and Motion to Reschedule Foreclosure Sales).  Reopened actions must be closed after the disposition of the matter that re-opened the action.  All orders disposing of matters that reopened an action must contain the following, or substantially similar language.  “This disposes of all pending matters.  The Clerk is directed to close the action.”

The court may return, unexecuted, proposed orders disposing of actions when a final disposition form is not provided with the proposed order.  The court may return, unexecuted, proposed orders disposing of matters that re-opened action when the proposed order does not contain language closing the action.

 

SERVICE OF PLEADINGS AND PAPERS

Proposed Orders:

All proposed orders submitted must comply with Administrative Directive OCAD2016-04  and should be sent to the following email address for Divsion 1: 

OCAD2016-04 can be found here.  

If an order submitted is an emergency or time sensitive, provide in your cover letter the reason(s) it is an emergency and print “URGENT” or “TIME SENSITIVE” on the cover letter.

Time sensitive proposed orders which are not agreed to by all the parties shall be emailed in Word format with the title “Proposed Order” and Case Number in the subject line to .

Orders are due 5 days after date of ruling unless otherwise indicated by the judge at hearing.  Whenever possible, do not provide orders with blanks to be filled in by the judge.

Avoid using “Order”, “Notice”, “Motion”, etc. without a description of the purpose or relief being sought or obtained (Notice of Hearing on Plaintiff’s Request for leave to amend,; Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for leave to amend, etc.).

Please make a page break so that the signature page does not contain only the “Done and Ordered” portion and judge’s signature line. Adjust pages so that some content of the ruling is on the signature page.

Judge Brown reviews and signs incoming proposed orders daily, unless he is out of the office.  If he has an issue with a submission you will be promptly notified.

If you have not received an email containing the signed order within 10 days of submission, always check the Clerk’s website at www.okaloosaclerk.com first.  If the docket does not reflect the

order in question, then you may call our office to inquire. Do not submit a replacement of the order without permission from the judge.

Pro Se Pleadings/Correspondence

Any pro se pleadings or correspondence sent to Judge Brown must be provided to all parties involved in the case. 

If a defendant is represented by counsel, all pleadings must be filed by that counsel.

No defendant or relative, friend, etc. is permitted to have a private telephone conference with the judge in reference to any case, whether open or closed.

Pro se litigants may find the following resources useful:

Legal Services: Legal Services of North Florida:  

The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service:  The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service – Information for Consumers

The Okaloosa County Law Library:  

Florida Rules of Court:  

Mailing/Faxing/E-mailing/Hand Delivering of “Courtesy Copies”

If you wish to provide this Court with “courtesy copies” of Motions, Memoranda and/or Trial Notebooks for a hearing which has already been scheduled, please do so at least five (5) business days before the hearing.

Please do not fax more than ten (10) pages without first calling for permission to do so.

 

CRIMINAL PROCEDURES:

When you are called to the podium, have your case ready to go:

If it is a plea, have it already signed by both your client and the State and have all the terms in the written plea agreement such as: $100.00 VOP; $150.00 Public Defender fee; guilty or withhold; Defendant will remain in jail until a bed is available at Keaton; and that Defendant has been pre-approved for Keaton, etc.

If it is not a plea, know what you are asking the Court to do and state that initially. Have your motions (including, but not limited to, nol pros, motions for continuance, and other motions) filed with the Clerk no later than four (4) business days prior to the date on which that matter shall be heard.  This shall allow the Judge sufficient time to review and consider your motions prior to the hearing.

Schedule, cancel, and re-schedule your criminal hearings only with the Clerk, not my JA, Donna.

When you or your legal assistant seek to schedule a hearing for 1:30 p.m. with the Clerk (609-4337), know how much time you will need for that hearing because that shall allow the Clerk to better plan the hearings for that afternoon. If you do not know the amount of time, the Clerk may not schedule your hearing until you call back with the estimated time.

If you are going to cancel a hearing, please do it immediately so that time may be used by others.  In all events, cancel the hearing with the Clerk in writing five (5) working days before the hearing date to prevent the Defendant from being transported.

Unless you are actually in a hearing at the time your name is called, your case shall be re-called after all of the Public Defender=s cases are called and completed.

All score sheets, PSIs, recommendation letters, and sentencing materials must be provided directly to the Judge’s chambers as least three (3) business days before the sentencing date.

If you are going to plea to additional case(s) not on the docket, let the Clerk know three (3) business days before the hearing date so she can review the file and be prepared. Make sure you account for every count and identify what sentence for each count. (i.e. if 3rd and 2nd degree felony and 7 years DOC, what time for each count, etc.)

Make sure the amended information agrees with the charges set forth in the plea agreement. Check the counts and degrees in the plea with the information/amended information and the score sheet.  These must all be consistent.

Proposed Orders on Motions for Continuance must contain the following three (3) dates: pretrial conference (9:00 a.m.); docket day (9:00 a.m.); and trial date (8:30 a.m.).

Court costs need to be correct.  The Clerk is not responsible for knowing what costs go with particular cases, especially drug/trafficking, battery, sexual offenses, and DUI’s.  All fines have a 5% surcharge.

Don’t use “Stipulated” Order unless both attorneys agree and have signed or initialed their consent thereto.

Unless in a plea, Orders Establishing Restitution shall not be signed without a writing evidencing both parties’ stipulation or after a hearing therefore. 

If you wish to withdraw from representing a defendant, you must fulfill Judicial Admin. Rule 2.505(f)(1) which requires either the written consent of the defendant or a hearing thereon and requires you to include the address of the defendant for service purposes in the proposed Order allowing you to withdraw.

If you wish to be substituted as counsel for the defendant, Rule 2.505(e)(2) requires the motion to be signed by both the withdrawing and the substituting attorney and the defendant.

Use form written plea agreements for new cases and VOP specific plea agreements. (Ask my JA, Donna, via email at , to e-mail you the form if you do not have it.)

On all plea agreements (including VOP’s) state any applicable statutory minimum mandatory sentences.

If you are seeking for the Defendant to go to Keaton, Phoenix House, Drug Court, Harvest Vineyard, etc., do your homework before the day of the plea or sentencing and have the Defendant pre-qualified to attend that program.  Otherwise, the Court may not consider those programs an option. 

All criminal dockets for Division 1 shall be closed after 5:00 p.m. on the 5th business day prior to the subject hearing date. No changes shall be made to said docket thereafter unless: both the State and Defense attorney have provided the Clerk with a prior writing (an email is acceptable) consenting to an addition being made to the docket for the hearing to be held within five (5) business days thereafter and the Clerk provides both the State Attorney and the Defense Attorney with a writing (an email is acceptable) consenting to said addition being placed on said docket.  Thereafter, one of the attorneys shall immediately file a notice of said hearing with the Clerk.