A judge drafts an administrative order to ensure proper administration of the court’s affairs. In 2016, the Sixth Judicial Court (Pinellas County) issued 85 administrative orders. One of these orders dealt with the handling of criminal case files. In April 2016, Chief Judge Anthony Rondolino signed Administrative Order Number 2016-019 PI-CIR, which sets forth rules to help Pasco and Pinellas County courts achieve a comprehensive electronic documents system.
To keep with the times, the Court is on a mission to transition from paper to electronic case files. Judge Rondolino’s Administrative Order identifies which types of case files the Clerk of Court must create and maintain on paper, and which the Clerk can create or convert to an electronic case file.
Which types of files must the Clerk create/maintain on paper?
The Administrative Order stipulates that the Clerk must create and maintain paper case files in new and existing cases in:
- County to Circuit Criminal Appeals;
- All cases assigned or transferred to Unified Family Court;
- Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Repeat Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking Injunction Proceedings; and
- Cases where the Court has imposed the death penalty.
To ensure the efficient operation of the Court, the Clerk must also create paper case files for all criminal trials. The Court can determine which relevant documents the Clerk must submit on paper. These typically include documents for advisory hearings, motion to suppress hearings, motion to dismiss hearings, and notice to appear hearings.
Which types of files can the Clerk keep electronically?
Except for the types of cases discussed above, the order provides that the Clerk does not need to create or maintain paper case files in new cases. “In order to facilitate the Court’s transition from paper case files to electronic case files, the Clerk is encouraged to convert existing paper case files to electronic case files and make them available to the Court,” Judge Rondolino noted in the order.
The Clerk must keep electronic files in a searchable PDF format whenever possible, and the Clerk must deliver the paper case files to the Court within two business days if the Court makes a specific request for it.
How is the Clerk supposed to prioritize the conversion of files?
There are thousands of case files that the Clerk must convert from paper to electronic, and there are only so many business hours in the day. The Administrative Order specifies an order of priority for converting files:
- First priority: Cases in which the Court has requested electronic case files
- Second priority: Cases where the Clerk has electronically filed a new pleading requesting or requiring court action
- Third priority: Open cases
- Fourth priority: Re-opened cases
- Fifth priority: Closed cases
Stay Up-to-Date on Pinellas County Court Happenings
When the Court issues a new Administrative Order, it provides a copy of the order to appropriate parties in the county. For instance, Judge Rondolino copied all the following parties on Administrative Order Number 2016-019 PI-CIR:
- All Judges
- The Honorable Lisa Munyon, Chair, Florida Courts Technology Commission
- The Honorable Bernie McCabe, State Attorney
- The Honorable Bob Dillinger, Public Defender
- The Honorable Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pinellas County
- The Honorable Bob Gualtieri, Sheriff, Pinellas County
- Gay Inskeep, Trial Courts Administrator
- Ngozi Acholonu, Assistant Regional Counsel
- Martin Rose, BTS Executive Director
- Tonya Rainwater, Justice CCMS Project Sponsor
- Tim Staney, CJIS Coordinator
- Bar Associations, Pasco and Pinellas Counties
- Law Libraries, Pasco and Pinellas Counties
The court also publishes all the orders online. Note however that Administrative Orders can be challenging for everyday people to understand. They are filled with legal terminology and confusing language. If you are in the midst of a case for which we are representing you, we will keep you informed of any new orders that pertain to you and explain how they may affect your proceedings.
For the latest changes to courtroom procedures, statutes, and criminal processes, check out the Goldman Wetzel blog. If you are in need of legal counsel or representation, schedule a free consultation with our defense attorneys in St. Petersburg.