561.671.5995 | 954.272.6187 | www.matthewkoneckypa.com 110 SE 6th Street, Suite 1700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 4440 PGA Blvd., Suite 204 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 Keeping UpWith the Courts
You learn a lot when you have to adapt to change. Over the past few months, I can say I have learned a lot while adapting to a changing court system in the wake of the pandemic. Going into July, many of the courts in Florida are focused on getting back on track. As a result, we have been able to clear out a number of cases so our clients don’t have to wait until things “normalize” before they see results. Technology, for example, has been on our side. The courts have been able to implement new ways of working through cases without having to organize courthouse appearances. Thanks to software like Zoom, the court system has been able to keep things moving along at a remarkably quick pace. Plus, we’re not sitting outside of the courtroom for hours waiting to be seen. In fact, we recently cleared out a case through a “plea in absentia.” My client was able to take a plea without needing to be present before a judge. In this case, the defendant (my client) went over the plea agreement. We had it notarized with the individual’s signature and I took that document, along with a copy of the defendant’s fingerprints, and submitted it to the court for approval. Then, we had a Zoom hearing and the court approved it. The client was able to serve their probation, and there was no wasted time and no waiting around. We’re doing this for a few more cases, as well. I’m excited that we don’t have to wait an extended period of time to get results. That alone has been a huge relief for clients. Strangely enough, one of the more challenging parts of this process wasn’t dealing with the courts or the prosecution. Rather, it was trying to get my clients’ fingerprints before we submitted everything for court approval. Over the past several months, many local police departments were not offering fingerprinting because they didn’t want people coming in unless there was an emergency. This meant we had to coordinate without outside vendors who were capable of providing this service. In Changing Times
a second wave. The courts have been advancing the dockets at a speedy pace and this will help smooth things out once things do normalize — at least when it comes to scheduling. There won’t be a huge backlog going in to the next few months. On the civil side of things, everything has been moving forward except jury trials. However, Jeff Adelman, a good friend of mine, has been working with other trial and defense attorneys to set up a way to do remote jury trials. They recently held a mock jury trial over Zoom to see what it might look like in the event that something like this is needed. Whether or not it gets implemented is hard to say, but the courts have learned how to keep things moving forward. Should the pandemic continue for a long time, or should there be a second wave, we can take what we’ve learned over the past several months and put it to good work. In theory, that might even include jury trials over Zoom. Time will tell. For now, though, our clients can rest assured we’re still completely focused on their cases. As challenging as the last several months have been, we’ve never stopped working. And if you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
It likely won’t be long before the court system is largely back to normal, barring any further complications due to the pandemic or
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