Santa Rosa County Courthouse
4025 Avalon Blvd.
Milton, FL 32583
Judicial Assistant Email Address: email@example.com
TIME ZONE: WE ARE IN THE CENTRAL TIME ZONE
This is an overview of procedures to assist parties handling cases before Judge Hilliard. If you have questions not addressed in the overview, please contact the Division 1 Judicial Assistant, using the contact information listed above.
Division 1 presides over Criminal, County Civil, and Small Claims dockets as well as Mandatory Traffic Infractions, County Ordinance Violations.
The Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judicial assistants from making substantive inquiries of the judge on behalf of any attorney or litigant involved in any action. The Code prohibits all judges from considering ex parte (one side only) communications.
Judicial Assistants are neither qualified nor able to provide legal advice to anyone. They may assist with procedural and scheduling inquiries only.
Any issue to be considered by a 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 set the motion for hearing.
Case law for consideration at a motion hearing should be provided at least five (5) days prior to the scheduled hearing to the judicial assistant via email or hand delivery.
No additional motions should be added to the existing hearing time without first coordinating this request with the judicial assistant and other counsel/parties.
Parties and/or counsel should make their request to appear via Zoom at the time the hearing is being coordinated.
Please note: if a hearing is scheduled for thirty (30) minutes or less, there is no need to file a motion/order for the remote appearance. If the hearing is scheduled for more than thirty (30) minutes, a motion/order must be filed.
Any issue to be considered by a 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 set the motion for hearing. All hearings are scheduled by email through the Division 1 Judicial Assistant after the motion is filed. To schedule a hearing, please send an email to the judicial assistant at the email address listed above copying all counsel of record. Hearing requests are processed in the order in which they are received. Please include the following information in the email: the case number, the title of the motion to be heard and the amount of time needed for the hearing. Once all parties have agreed and confirmed the date and time of the hearing with the judicial assistant, the party seeking the hearing is to prepare and file a Notice of Hearing.
Should any scheduled hearing become unnecessary, the scheduling party shall immediately send an email to the Judicial Assistant explaining the reason for the desired cancellation. If approved by the Court, the Judicial Assistant will cancel the hearing.
If a Motion that has been set for hearing is to be withdrawn, conceded, or continued, the Judge's office should be notified as soon as is practical. Written Notice of Cancellation or Notice Withdrawing the Motion will be necessary and may be sent to the Judicial Assistant via email at the email address listed above.
If you have tried in good faith to coordinate a hearing and have not received a response from opposing counsel within two full business days of your contact, you may set the hearing unilaterally. Please note on your Notice of Hearing, “Set Unilaterally Pursuant To Judge Hilliard’s Procedures”
NOTICES FOR TRIAL
When filing a NOTICE FOR TRIAL, you MUST email a copy of the Notice for Trial to the Judicial Assistant. Upon receipt of your Notice for Trial the case will likely be promptly forwarded to Mediation and/or Arbitration. Then, if not resolved, your case will be scheduled for trial.
SELF-REPRESENTED (PRO-SE) LITIGANTS
EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS
The Canons of Judicial Ethics govern conduct by judges. A judge is not allowed to consider ex parte communications regarding a case pending before the judge. Canon 3B(7) of the Code of Judicial Ethics provides in pertinent part that “[a] judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of all parties concerning a pending or impending proceedings”. It is inappropriate for a judge to receive personal communications regarding pending cases. In order for the Court to grant any form of relief, there must be a Motion filed with the Clerk of Court and a copy of the Motion must be served upon the other party or parties.
GENERAL INFORMATION FOR SELF-REPRESENTED (PRO-SE) LITIGANTS
Self-Represented litigants are required to file all filings on their own behalf.
Please familiarize yourself with the rules of judicial procedure appropriate to your case.
Forms and other information for Self-Represented litigants can be found at the Florida Supreme Court website: www.supremecourt.flcourts.gova
All filings should be e-filed through the e-Portal.
No copies of e-filed documents should be sent to the Division 1 Judicial Assistant via email or otherwise.
PROPOSED ORDERS AND PROPOSED JUDGMENTS
Proposed Orders and Proposed Judgments should be submitted in Microsoft Word format with no blanks for the Court to “fill-in”, including Criminal docket Orders to Continue. Criminal docket dates can be obtained from the Santa Rosa County Clerk’s Office.
A cover letter is not required.
If a proposed judgment based on a Defendant’s failure to appear for a Civil Pretrial Conference is submitted, please include a statement to that effect in the proposed judgment.
Please do not include a date/time sentence at the conclusion of submitted documents. All orders are now date stamped below the judge’s electronic signature, so a fill-in date line is no longer needed in the “Done and Ordered” line. Please follow this example: DONE AND ORDERED in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
Please submit all proposed orders/judgments, in Microsoft Word format, to Division I through the eportal. If a case involves pro se parties without designated email addresses, please include the mailing address on the proposed order/judgment, in order to ensure proper distribution of conformed copies.
Please continue to file all other pleadings/motions with the Clerk of Court.
CRIMINAL COURT START TIMES
Arraignments begin at 8:30 a.m.
Docket Day begins at 8:30 a.m.
Jury Selection begins at 8:00 a.m.
Typically, Arraignments are set at 8:30 a.m. on Thursdays. Appearance is required unless Notice of Appearance, Plea of Not Guilty, and Waiver of Arraignment have been filed with the Santa Rosa County Clerk of Court.
Typically, Criminal Motions are set at 8:30 a.m. Criminal Motions are scheduled once within a trial cycle. All motions must be filed with the Santa Rosa County Clerk of Court with a copy sent to the Office of the State Attorney. Motion hearings should be scheduled with the Division 1 Judicial Assistant to ensure that adequate time is available.
FINAL PLEA DAY (FKA “MINI DOCKET DAY”)
Typically, Final Plea Days are set at 8:30 a.m. A Final Plea Day is scheduled prior to each Criminal docket trial cycle. Typically, they are set on the Friday before Jury Selection.
MOTIONS TO COMPEL DEPOSITIONS
Judge Hilliard will not authorize motions to be set for hearing “to compel dates.” If the opposing party does not provide reasonable dates within two business days of the request, you may unilaterally set the deposition. The burden will then be on the opposing party to move for protective order and explain why no reasonable dates were provided.
REQUESTS FOR SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL
The Court will not grant a substitution of counsel unless the client’s written consent is obtained, and new counsel certifies, “I have reviewed the Court docket in this file and have spoken with all counsel of record. I am aware of all pending hearings, depositions and other deadlines that are set in this case.” See Fla. R. Gen. Prac. & Jud. Admin. 2.505(e)