Clifton A. Drake

Circuit Judge
Santa Rosa County
First Judicial Circuit in and for Santa Rosa County, Florida
Judicial Assistant: 
Cheryl Newsom

Santa Rosa County Courthouse
6865 Caroline Street, Box M
Milton, FL 32570

Fax : 


Judicial Assistant:  Cheryl Newsom

Contacting Judge Drake’s Office

Email is the preferred method of communication, especially regarding scheduling, so that Ms. Newsom may effectively respond to your inquiry.

General Information

Judge Drake has three main rules: Be on Time, Be Prepared, and Be Respectful.  Attorneys who are delayed due to other court appearances or unforeseen circumstances should notify Ms. Newsom.  All attorneys are expected to have concluded any discussions with clients, victims, or witnesses prior to being in court, and criminal plea negotiations should also occur prior to coming to court.  If any plea negotiations must be made the day of court, the parties should excuse themselves from the courtroom to prevent disruption of court proceedings.  Everyone in the courtroom is expected to show respect for the Court and our judicial system by standing when addressing or being addressed by the Judge, not speaking when anyone else is speaking, and dressing and acting in a manner reflective of the dignified nature of court proceedings.

All matters to be considered by the 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 coordinate a hearing with the Judicial Assistant and all counsel of record and then to file a Notice of Hearing with the Clerk.  Merely filing a motion with the Clerk will not bring the matter before the Judge.

Pursuant to the Code of Judicial Conduct, neither the Judge nor the Judicial Assistant are permitted to discuss substantive matters without all parties being present.  However, Ms. Newsom is happy to assist with scheduling and procedural inquiries.

Scheduling Hearings

To schedule either a Criminal or Civil hearing, please email Ms. Newsom at to request available dates and times.  In your email, please provide the following information:

Case Number

Party Names

Attorney Names

Type of Hearing

Length requested for hearing

Any additional information (e.g. hearing needed before or after a particular date, emergency filing, etc.)

Once Ms. Newsom provides available dates, coordinate with opposing counsel to select dates that work for all parties.  It is recommended that the parties agree on several potential dates in case one of the dates is no longer available by the time the hearing is confirmed.  Once the parties have agreed on the potential date(s), please inform Ms. Newsom via email, and she will reply confirming that the time slot is still available and finalizing the hearing being set.

Once the hearing time has been confirmed, please file a Notice of Hearing with the Clerk of Court.  The Notice of Hearing shall advise the Court and all parties of the date, time, and type of hearing.  The Notice of Hearing shall also include whether the hearing is to occur at the Courthouse or via Zoom.

Zoom Information

Judge Drake’s Personal Meeting Room:  860 753 2311

OR, parties may appear by phone by calling one of the United States Zoom telephone numbers listed below and entering Judge Drake’s PMI (860 753 2311) when prompted:

PRIMARY:                (312) 626-6799

SECONDARY:          (929) 205-6099

Cancelling hearings

Upon determining that a hearing is no longer necessary, please notify Ms. Newsom as soon as possible via email ( ).  The ONLY way this office knows of a cancellation is through your notification.  If the hearing is cancelled far enough in advance, the time can be made available to others.

Submitting Documents Prior to Hearings

Any memoranda, case law, or other documents that parties wish for the Judge to consider prior to a hearing should be emailed or e-filed at least three business days before the hearing.

Submitting Proposed Orders

Please do not submit a proposed Order to the Judicial Assistant until all parties have reviewed and approved the proposed Order.  If the Motion and/or Order are stipulated to by all parties (and therefore a hearing is not required), please write in the proposed Order that the parties have stipulated to entry of the Order.

Proposed Orders should be submitted through the e-filing portal in Microsoft Word format. 

Once signed by the Judge, the Order will be filed with the Clerk with e-service to the parties.

Proposed Orders must include the names and e-mail addresses of all parties who will need to receive e-service of the Court’s Order.

In the final section of the Proposed Order, please write “DONE AND ORDERED in Milton, Santa Rosa County, Florida.” with sufficient space below for the Judge’s e-signature.  Please do not write the date that it is done and ordered, as the date will be automatically included in the e-signature.  See example below:




All counsel and all persons attending hearings and trials should conduct themselves in the following customary and traditional manner:

Stand as court is opened, recessed, or adjourned for all matters held in the courtroom.

Stand when the jury enters or retires from the courtroom.

Stand when addressing or being addressed by the Court for all matters held in the courtroom.

Address all remarks to the Court, not to opposing counsel.

Avoid disparaging personal remarks or acrimony toward opposing counsel and remain wholly detached from any ill feeling between the litigants or witnesses.

Refer to all persons, including witnesses, other counsel, and the parties, by their surnames and not by their first or given names.

Counsel should request permission before approaching the bench.

Unless opposing counsel has previously been shown exhibits, any exhibit offered in evidence should, at the time of such offer, be handed to opposing counsel.

In making objections, counsel should state only the legal grounds for the objection and should withhold all further comment or argument unless elaboration is requested by the Court.

Offers of, or requests for, a stipulation should be made privately, not within the hearing of the jury.

Counsel shall admonish and discourage all persons (parties, witnesses, and observers) from making gestures, facial expressions, audible comments, or the like, as manifestations of approval or disapproval during the testimony of witnesses, or at any other time.