Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex Extension
1940 Lewis Turner Boulevard
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
Circuit Civil Jury and Non Jury
- If You Do Not Have An Attorney
- General Information
- Scheduling Hearings
- Difficulty Scheduling with Opposing Counsel
-Motions Docket Scheduling
-Adding to an Existing Hearing
- Confirming Hearings
- Telephone Appearance
- Civil Jury Trial Procedures
- Submitting Orders
- Checking Status of and Resubmitting an Order
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ATTORNEY (PRO SE)
In criminal proceedings if you do not have an attorney, all hearings are scheduled by the court and you will receive notice of court dates from the State or Clerk of Court.
The Code of Judicial Conduct precludes court staff from making inquires or providing information to the judge on behalf of any attorney or litigant involved in any action. Judge Gontarek and his Judicial Assistant are prohibited from discussing any case with any party outside of a hearing. The JA cannot take a message from a litigant or other person for the Judge. Judicial Assistants are also precluded from answering any legal questions.
Any issue to be considered by the Court must be in the form of a written 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. Filing a motion will not bring the matter before the Court. Only parties not represented by an attorney may file their own pleadings. Do not send pleadings to the judge. Pleadings and communication must be filed in the Court Record through the Office of the Clerk of Court. Anything you file must also be provided to all parties/counsel in the case at the same time as filing into the court record.
It is the responsibility of the moving party to coordinate a hearing with all counsel/parties of record and to provide proper notice filed in the court file and to all parties/counsel.
If you choose to represent yourself you must research and proceed in accord with Florida Rules and Statutes. You may visit any Florida Law Library or use online research sources for Florida Law. Court Staff and Clerk’s office staff are not permitted by law to give legal or procedural advice.
If you are represented by an attorney, you must provide any correspondence, evidence or other documentation directly to your attorney.
Are scheduled by the Court and Clerk. You will receive a hearing notice or continuing dates will be announced in open court.
Motions Docket Scheduling: When scheduling 5-15 minute NJT/Foreclosures, or 5-15 minute non evidentiary motions in any civil actions you will be given dates on the Motions Docket. If you have numerous cases to schedule you may ask for them to be on the same date. If you currently have a matter on one of the motions docket court dates and would like to add another, simply ask in your email when requesting hearing dates. If time is available, and there is time for proper notice of hearing, we will accommodate. Canceling and resetting a previously scheduled motion docket hearing if another cannot be added later will not be permitted.
Requesting Hearing dates:
*** Do not cc opposing counsel or any other recipients when emailing the Court to Request or Confirm hearing dates – law office to law office emails also should not cc the court ***
Motions and Non Jury Trials may be scheduled in this manner.
SUBJECT LINE: REQUEST HEARING Case # Style of Case
Please be sure to provide the following information in your email request:
BODY OF EMAIL: Length of Time Being Requested and Title of Motion(s) and Name(s) of scheduling and opposing counsel
I usually give nearest dates of the time increments requested and give 4-5. Feel free to make special requests in your email such as to begin dates after a certain date or asking for more options if you have multiple attorneys’ schedules to work with and/or very busy schedules.
WHEN OPPOSING COUNSEL IS UNRESPONSIVE AFTER SEVERAL ATTEMPTS OR REFUSES TO PARTICIPATE IN COORDINATING A HEARING:
You may get new dates and times from me, then email them to all o/c as usual, only add this language:
Since we have attempted to coordinate this hearing with you and received no response (or you have refused) if you fail to respond to this email by 5:00 p.m. on (NEXT BUSINESS DATE), the Court will allow us to select and confirm one of these dates and you will not be permitted to object or complain due to failure to coordinate or unavailability. And then plug in the dates YOUR ATTORNEY is available from the selection I provided to you.
Confirming Hearing Dates:
Do not cc opposing counsel or any other recipients when emailing the Court to Request or Confirm hearing dates – law office to law office emails also should not cc the court ***
*** Please do not file/send the Notice \of Hearing until you have received email confirmation from the JA.
*** No need to email a copy of the Notice of Hearing to the JA***
SUBJECT LINE: CONFIRM HEARING Case # Style of Case
BODY OF EMAIL:
Date, Time and length of time being confirmed.
Name of Scheduling Attorney/Name(s) of Opposing counsel or indicate pro se
Case # and Style of Case
Title of Motion(s) to be heard
NOTE: The SUBJECT LINE details allow us to give first priority to emails in the CONFIRM HEARING email folder. Since dates and times for hearing are first-come-first-serve this helps you secure a date as quickly as possible in the order your email is received. We will provide and confirm dates without the subject line designation; however the delay increases your risk of a date being taken by the time we see your email in a lesser priority folder. Our second priority is REQUEST HEARING emails so that you will have little delay in moving forward with coordinating and getting on the court docket.
CIVIL JURY TRIAL
- Upon the filing of a NOTICE FOR JURY TRIAL, allow 10 days for objections before emailing the JA for a case management conference (if opposing counsel stipulates to readiness for trial, no need to wait 10 days).
- Judge Gontarek requires personal appearance of counsel at case management conferences.
- Please provide in your request the following information: Case #, Full Style of Case, Names of all counsel of record, Number of days expected to try the case (not including jury selection), whether the case has been to mediation.
Judge Gontarek allows non-evidentiary motion hearings of 15 minutes or less to be attended by phone. This requires approval of opposing counsel. No Order is required. Please make arrangements with our office at least 15 business days in advance of the hearing date. Must make arrangements with CourtCall no less than ten days in advance at 888.882.6878 or www.courtcall.com
Judge Gontarek requires personal appearance of counsel and parties at all non-jury trials, summary judgment and Final Hearings, evidentiary motion hearings and Case Management Hearings.
The Court will consider a Motion for Telephone Appearance, timely filed (Not less than 10 days prior to hearing) for evidentiary motion hearings. The motion must state:
- Exigent circumstances for which telephone appearance is being requested;
- Whether opposing counsel objections or has no objection. (must contact and obtain this prior to submitting motion)
IF TELEPHONE APPEARANCE IS GRANTED, the Order granting must include the following:
- NO LESS THAN 7 days prior to the hearing date contact CourtCall at 888.882.6878 or www.courtcall.com to arrange the conference call.
- Parties or witnesses granted telephone appearance are required to have a Notary Public or other authorized person to provide positive identification and to swear them in for testimony. Counsel for the party is responsible for assuring these arrangements are made.
SUBMITTING ORDERS DIVISION 1 DOES NOT ACCEPT ORDERS FILED INTO THE EPORTAL, ALL ORDERS MUST BE EMAILED TO: OKA.DIV1.ESERVE@FLCOURTS1.GOV
Okaloosa Courts does not accept orders (or pleadings) in paper except as set forth in OCAD 2016-04
Must be submitted in MS Word format pursuant to OCAD 2016-04.
Title of all orders must be self explanatory (i.e. Order Granting Continuance; Order on Motion to Amend) No order should simply be titled “Order”.
Must have substantive language of theruling on same page as Judge’s signature space.
When saving and naming the order in MSWord, please name as follows: Case # and Title of the Order You may abbreviate -- i.e. 18CA1234 Order Granting Continuance.docx ; 18CA2345 Order Denying SJ.docx; 19CA3456 Order Setting Trial.docx)
Judge Gontarek requires orders be submitted within 15 days of the date of ruling, unless otherwise approved by the Court.
SUBMIT TO: OKA.DIV1.ESERVE@FLCOURTS1.GOV
Must comply with OCAD 2016-04. To view click HERE
SUBMIT ORDERS ONLY ONE TIME (See below section: Checking on Status of and Resubmitting Orders).
NO ADVANCE ORDERS Orders cannot be held by the court in advance of hearing.
BODY OF EMAIL MUST INDICATE:
- Date of hearing was held or that this order is upon signed stipulation;
- That the form of the order has been approved by all opposing counsel *
- When an order is submitted upon stipulation include the date the fully signed stipulation was filed into the court record.
*If attorneys cannot agree as to form of order, immediately request a conference of counsel with the judge to resolve the differences in form.
Hearing requests for 15 minutes or less will be on a Civil Motions Calendar. Counsel may schedule more than one case during these motion calendar dates.
CRIMINAL MATTERS: (Body of email must indicate)
- If from a court hearing, date of hearing
- If ex parte motion, a PDF copy of the docketed motion should be included with the order.
- Body must indicate that opposing counsel has no objection (If routine orders that do not require hearing or approval, please indicate in body of email that this motion and order have not been reviewed and approved by opposing counsel)/
CHECKING ON STATUS OF AND RESUBMITTING AN ORDER
If you have not received an email containing the signed order within 15 business days of submission, you must first check the Clerk’s website at www.okaloosaclerk.com. If the docket does not reflect the order in question, then you may contact our office to follow up
Please do not submit a replacement of the order without permission from the judge.