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. When calling to schedule the hearing, please have all the information needed, such as the case number, the style of the case, the type of hearing you are setting and the amount of time needed for the hearing – do not guess. Make sure you allow enough time. Judge Duncan does strictly adhere to the amount of time requested. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mediation must be attempted before trial will commence. Counsel are 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.
PROBATE AND GUARDIANSHIP CASES
In an estate or guardianship, please file all pleadings with the Clerk's Office; however, all proposed orders must be submitted directly to the presiding judge. Please see "General Information" for procedures on submitting proposed orders. After reviewing the paperwork, the Clerk will then forward the paperwork along with the court file to the judge's office. All probate matters received without the court file are automatically forwarded to the Probate Clerk for review and returned to the judge for his review and consideration.
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.