Santa Rosa County Courthouse
6865 Caroline Street
Milton, Florida 32570
This is intended as a brief overview of policies regarding hearings and procedural matters. Your courtesies in adhering to these policies will be greatly appreciated and will make our system one which runs more smoothly and efficiently for all involved.
Take a moment to organize your thoughts and have the pertinent file in front of you before scheduling a hearing. Please file your motion with the Clerk of Court and send opposing counsel a copy of the motion. If you need a hearing before or after a particular date, please let us know. Know the names of the attorneys involved in the case.
When scheduling a hearing with Judge Duncan’s office, it is preferable that the motioning party request a hearing time and date by e-mail with all parties copied. This will ensure that the hearing is on everyone’s calendar. However, if the motioning party is not able to request a hearing by e-mail, they may call the judge’s office to schedule the hearing. All parties must be on the line at the time the motioning party places the call to the judge’s office.
Please schedule adequate time and do not piggyback motions onto time already scheduled or another motion in the same case unless you check with the judicial assistant first as well as the opposing party. The judge will not hear motions which have not been properly scheduled. Please take note of the fact that there is probably another hearing scheduled after your hearing, and that if your hearing runs longer than scheduled you are affecting other attorneys and litigants.
If a case or issue resolves, please notify the judge's office immediately and cancel all scheduled hearings so time can be cleared for other hearings. Valuable calendar time is lost because notice of cancellation is not given. Time could be used for other hearings.
All documents, pleadings, and proposed orders should be e-filed. The only “originals” that should be mailed are original notes and mortgages, which should be mailed directly to the Santa Rosa County Clerk of Courts. It is not necessary to send courtesy copies to the judge’s office.
1. Motions for Summary Judgment
Before a Motion for Summary Judgment will be set for hearing, the Motion and original documents must be filed with the Clerk of Court. Once the Motion and original documents have been filed, please e-mail the judicial assistant with your request for a hearing. Typically, these hearings can be set 30-60 days from the date of your request. Once the date is set, Counsel must e-file a Notice of Hearing. If counsel wishes to appear by telephone, then such request and proposed order must be filed within 10 days of the hearing. The Court will then make a determination whether counsel may appear by telephone. If counsel is appearing by telephone a proposed Final Judgment needs to be e-filed with the Clerk of Court at least 5 days before the hearing.
2. Non-Jury Trials for Foreclosures.
If Counsel needs to schedule a non-jury trial for a foreclosure, a Notice for Trial must be filed with the Clerk of Court before a trial date is set. Once a Notice for Trial is filed, any opposing party has 5 days to object to whether the action is at issue. (Rule 1.440, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure). Objections such as “needing more time to prepare” or “needing discovery” are not appropriate objections under Rule 1.440. These types of objections are more appropriately raised in a Motion to Continue Trial. Once a trial date is scheduled, Counsel must e-file a proposed Order of Trial giving the date, time, and location of the trial. If a party is not on the e-portal list, Counsel needs to send a copy of the signed Order under the standard service rules. Counsel must appear in person for a non-jury foreclosure trial. The original documents and proposed Final Judgments do not need to be filed before the trial and can be presented the day of the trial.
OTHER CIVIL CASES
When filing a notice for trial, please send a copy to the Court via e-mail.
Once the notice for trial is filed, the Court will request a Case Management Conference be scheduled to determine readiness for trial and to agree on a trial date. Any objections to the notice for trial will be heard at the Case Management Conference.
All parties must have their calendars at the Case Management Conference so that the trial date may be coordinated. Depending on how much work has been completed in the case, the Court may determine that a specific trial date is not yet necessary, and that such date will be set after a subsequent Case Management Conference. However, even if a specific trial date is not given, the Court will still set discovery and mediation deadlines.
Once the trial date has been set, the Court will enter an Order of Civil Mediation Referral and an Order for Pre-Trial Conference and Setting Trial.
The Court does not determine the order of priority of civil jury trials until approximately 30 days before the trial date, so Counsel should prepare as if their case will be tried on the set date.
Mediation must be attempted before trial will commence. Counsel is encouraged to attempt mediation without waiting for a Court order. After mediation has occurred, please have a copy of the mediation results sent to the Court.
If a defendant is represented by counsel, counsel may submit a written plea of not guilty and a notice of waiver of appearance – counsel and defendant will then be excused from appearance at the arraignment hearing. It will be counsel’s responsibility to consult the Clerk of Court’s website to determine the defendant’s next court date.
Defense counsel and assistant state attorneys must discuss and attempt to agree on a reasonable bond before a bond motion will be set for hearing. If counsel can agree on a reasonable bond, a signed stipulated order should be sent to the Judge for review; this may eliminate the need for a hearing. All bond motions will need to be reviewed by the Court prior to scheduling a hearing. The Court will determine whether a hearing is necessary.
All defendants must be present in court on Docket Day unless they have been previously excused by the Court.
Motions to Suppress, Motions to Dismiss, Early Pleas, etc.
These motions, once coordinated between counsel and this office, will be set on a criminal motion day. Please forward a copy of the motion and proposed order to this office, along with a copy of the notice of hearing.
PROBATE AND GUARDIANSHIP CASES
In an estate or guardianship, please e-file all pleadings and proposed Orders with the Clerk's Office. If Counsel knows a matter will be contested, they should follow the scheduling procedures outlined above.
The purpose of these rules is to state certain basic principles concerning courtroom behavior and decorum. They are intended to emphasize and supplement the ethical obligations of counsel under the Code of Professional Responsibility. These rules shall be followed by counsel who at all times must exhibit behavior in the courtroom that promotes to the public confidence and fairness in the State of Florida’s Judicial System. When appearing in this Court, unless excused by the presiding Judge, all counsel shall abide by the following:
1. Stand as Court is opened, recessed or adjourned.
2. Stand when the jury enters or retires from the courtroom.
3. Stand when addressing, or being addressed by, the Court.
4. Address all remarks to the Court not to opposing counsel. Counsel shall not argue with one another in the presence of the jury or judge. Counsel shall not interrupt one another in the presence of the jury or judge.
5. Counsel should request permission before approaching the bench or a witness.
6. There will be no speaking objections. In making objections counsel should state the legal grounds for the objections in one sentence or less. If further argument is needed for an objection, the Court will request the parties to approach the bench.
7. Counsel shall not attempt to introduce evidence, ask a question, or make any argument that counsel knows is improper. If counsel has doubt about the propriety or prejudicial effect of any disclosure to the jury, counsel should request a ruling out of the jury’s hearing.
8. When examining a witness, counsel shall not make any disparaging remarks to the witness.
9. When examining a witness, counsel shall allow the witness to complete his or her answer to the question asked before asking another question.
10. If counsel wishes to impeach a witness using a deposition, counsel shall inform opposing counsel of the page and line number from the deposition that will be referenced before questioning the witness.
If you have any questions about any of the above information, please feel free to contact our office at 981-5542.