John Jay Gontarek

Type: 
Circuit Judge
County: 
Okaloosa County
Division: 
4
Jurisdiction: 
Family Law (Chapters 61 and 741) – Juvenile Delinquency - Probate & Guardianship
Judicial Assistant: 
Patricia Glover
Address: 

Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex Extension
1940 Lewis Turner Boulevard
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Phone: 
850-609-4700

Assignments:

Circuit Civil Jury and Non Jury

Felony Criminal

 

Topics:

  • If You Do Not Have An Attorney
  • Forms for Pro Se Parties
  • General  Information
  • Scheduling Hearings

-Adding to an Existing Hearing

  • Confirming Hearings
  • Telephone Appearance
  •  Civil Jury Trial Procedures
  • Submitting Orders

-Civil Matters

-Criminal Matters

  • Checking Status of and Resubmitting an Order

DIVISION POLICIES/PROCEDURES

 

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.

 

FORMS FOR PRO SE Parties A limited variety of forms are available by contacting the Office of the Clerk of Court.  You may visit the Clerk’s Office for forms, or go to one of these websites:  www.okaloosaclerk.com  and www.floridabar.org/public/   In addition to forms the Florida Bar website has information on Lawyer Referral Service, Legal Aid and other topics of interest to the public.

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

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 are represented by an attorney, you cannot submit letters or file pleadings with the Court.  You must consult with your attorney.

 

SCHEDULING HEARINGS 

Note:  Do not cc any other recipients when REQUESTING and CONFIRMING hearing dates.   The scheduling law firm may email the JA to request hearing dates and times to coordinate with opposing counsel in separate communication.    DO NOT copy any other recipients in your email to the JA.  (We are subject to broad open records laws)  Email between law offices including the court may create issues regarding attorney-client privilege, ex parte communication and possibly result in judicial recusal.

*** No need to email a copy of the Notice of Hearing to the JA***

  • Criminal Cases:  Criminal Case hearings dates are scheduled through the Clerk of Court’s Office
  • Civil Cases:    Civil cases are scheduled by the attorneys.  The pleadings must be filed and in the court record prior to contacting the judge’s office to schedule hearings.

ADDING/CHANGING MATTERS ON CALENDAR:  Only upon agreement of opposing counsel and approval by the Court can any party add or change a motion to an existing hearing date.  If adding a matter, all counsel must agree that no additional court time needs to be reserved for this addition.  It will be approved on a time-permitting basis only.    Once agreed upon, the adding party must email the JA with the same details as are sent when confirming a hearing date, with a statement in the body of the email that opposing counsel has agreed to this addition/change.

 

Civil Hearings:

*** No need to email a copy of the Notice of Hearing to the JA***

Email: Patricia.Glover@flcourts1.gov

Motions and Non Jury Trials may be scheduled in this manner. 

  • Requesting Hearing Dates:

Please be sure to provide the following information in your email request:

SUBJECT LINE:  REQUEST HEARING Case #    Style of Case

BODY OF EMAIL:  Length of Time Being Requested and Title of Motion(s) and Name(s) of 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.

 

CONFIRMING HEARINGS

*** 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***

 

Email: Patricia.Glover@flcourts1.gov

 

Note:  Do not cc any other recipients when REQUESTING and CONFIRMING hearing dates.   All law office to law office communication should not be in the Court email system.   DO NOT copy any other recipients in your email to the JA.  (We are subject to broad open records laws)   Email between law offices including the court may create issue regarding attorney-client privilege, ex parte communication and possibly result in judicial recusal.

SUBJECT LINE:  CONFIRM HEARING Case # Style of Case

BODY OF EMAIL:  Date, time and length of hearing; Title of Motion(s) and Name(s) of opposing counsel

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.

 

TELEPHONIC APPEARANCE

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.  

 Judge Gontarek requires personal appearance of counsel and parties at all evidentiary hearings and at Civil Jury Case Management Hearings.  Upon Motion timely filed and providing exigent circumstances the Court will consider a Motion for Telephone Appearance at an evidentiary hearing.   If stipulation of opposing counsel is not provided, a hearing may be required.

 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.

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. 

 

SUBMITTING ORDERS

Requirements:        

 Must be submitted in MS Word format ONLY.

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:  EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2, 2019 ---   OKA.DIV1.ESERVE@FLCOURTS1.GOV 

                                                                        (prior to January 2, 2019 OKA.DIV4.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:

              CIVIL MATTERS:

  • 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. 

CRIMINAL MATTERS:

  • 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, body of email must include 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.