Chief Judge Anthony Rondolino signed Administrative Order 2016-016 PI-CIR in March of 2016 to address the assignment of traffic court cases in Pinellas County.
To provide a more even distribution of traffic cases between the South County Traffic Facility and the North County Traffic Facility, and to minimize officers’ time spent in court, Judge Rondolino’s order establishes rules for which the Clerk of the Court must assign new criminal traffic court cases for citations. These include those issued by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The order only applies to new criminal traffic cases. Existing cases are not to be reassigned and the courts will still assign new non-criminal traffic infractions pursuant to Administrative Order 2009-008.
Which cases must the Clerk assign to the South County Traffic Facility?
The order stipulates that criminal traffic cases must assigned based upon the ZIP code of the agency issuing the citation, except as provided below.
The Clerk must assign new criminal traffic cases in Pinellas County to the South County Traffic Facility when the following agencies issue the citation:
- Petersburg Police Department
- Department of Transportation
- Treasure Island Police Department
- Gulfport Police Department
- Indian Shores Police Department
- Kenneth City Police Department
- Pinellas Park Police Department
- Campus Police
- University of South Florida
- Bay Pines V.A. Police Service
Which cases must the Clerk assign to the North County Traffic Facility?
If any of the four agencies below issue a citation, the Clerk must assign the case to the North County Traffic Facility:
- Tarpon Springs Police Department
- Clearwater Police Department
- Largo Police Department
- Belleair Police Department
How must the Clerk assign traffic cases from other agencies?
When the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the
Florida Highway Patrol, or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission files a citation, the Clerk must assign the case to either the North County Traffic Facility or the South County Traffic Facility, depending on the assignment of the deputy, trooper, or officer issuing the citation.
The order does not specific the exact manner in which officers must be assigned, but it provides that “deputies, troopers, and officers will be assigned to either the North County Traffic Facility or the South County Traffic Facility in a manner that results in an even distribution of cases between the traffic facilities.”
Also, the Clerk must provide the Administrative Office of the Courts with a semi-annual report that shows the percentage of cases assigned to the South County Traffic Facility and the percentage assigned to the North County
Traffic Facility. This way, the courts can keep tabs on caseloads and ensure more even distribution so as not to overwhelm either traffic facility.
What other provisions does the Administrative Order include?
Administrative Order 2016-016 touches on other aspects of scheduling as well. It provides that Clerks of the Court must try to schedule cases on the court calendar from each law enforcement agency in such a way that it minimizes the time officers are in court.
And while this order stipulates that cases existing before the Judge Rondolino issued the order were not to be reassigned (March 23, 2016), it does provide that the Clerk of Court must assign any old, re-opened cases in accordance with this order.
Also, when a judge has entered an order recusing (i.e., excusing) himself from all cases of a named party or attorney, the Clerk must reassign all cases from that party/attorney to the other traffic facility unless otherwise directed, and ensure it does not assign future cases from that party or attorney to the recused judge.
Similarly, when a judge has entered an order of disqualification in an individual case, the Clerk must reassign that case to the other traffic facility unless otherwise directed by the Court.
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