COVID-19 Updates

In response to the public concern of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and social distancing advisements, Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller Stacy M. Butterfield announces changes to clerk-related services.

Administrative Order 1-53.3 


Clerk’s Office Now Open with New Safety Guidelines; Remote Services

The Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller is now open to the public. New guidelines are in place for individuals working and conducting business within the courthouse, as outlined in Administrative Order 1-53.3 issued by the Honorable Ellen S. Masters, Chief Judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Clerk services have resumed as normal with the following exceptions:

  •   The Clerk Drop Desk is discontinued and all departments are open.
  •   Marriage services are by appointment only.
  •  Passport services remained suspended and will resume once the U.S. Department of State resumes full operations.
  •  Most court hearings will occur by Remote Appearance via Virtual Courtroom or Teleconference. Links to the virtual courtrooms are available on the 10th Judicial   Circuit Court’s website at www.jud10.flcourts.org/.
  •  Jury trials and jury duty remain suspended through July 31.
  •  Governor DeSantis’s Executive Order halting evictions is extended through July 1.

Administrative Order 1-53.3 outlines the general procedures for the Polk County Courthouse to prioritize the safety of persons accessing the courthouse or court facilities:

Courthouse Entry/Exit: The public must enter the Bartow courthouse through the Church Street/North entrance or the Juvenile/Southwest entrance of the building.

Temperature Checks and Health Screenings: The public must undergo a health screening and temperature check before entering the building.

Masks: Everyone, including employees, must wear a mask while entering and exiting the building as well as when they are in shared, public spaces. Masks will be provided at no cost to visitors who do not have one.

 Social Distancing: Social distancing measures of maintaining a distance of six feet from others will be strictly enforced. Signage is posted throughout the courthouse to help ensure this distance is maintained.

Any person who refuses to wear a facemask or follow social distancing requirements while in the courthouse or court facility will be denied access. The administrative order is available at www.jud10.flcourts.org/.

Remote services that are still available to the public include:

  • Pay a traffic ticket (online or by phone)
  • Electronically record mortgages, deeds, and other official records (online, for repeat filers only, such as contractors, attorneys, title companies, closing agents, etc.)
  •  File court documents electronically (online)
  •  Electronically view court records, official records, and request certified copies (online)
  • Check your jury status or request excusals and postponements (online or by phone)
  • Check the status of court proceedings (by phone)
  • Set up payment plans (by phone only)
  • Electronically pay child support and alimony (online)
  • Sign up to receive text and/or email alerts about court dates (online at enotify.flcourts.org)
  • Mail traffic school completion certificates to P.O. Box 9000, Drawer CC-10, Bartow, FL 33831-9000

Court Hearing Updates

If you are attending a court hearing via virtual means, please click here for the virtual/video courtroom appearance instructions.

For more details about court cancellations and rescheduling, contact our office or the 10th Judicial Circuit.

 The Honorable Ellen S. Masters, Chief Judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit, released Administrative Order 1-53.3 that further addresses emergency court operations related to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

This Administrative Order shall be effective immediately and shall remain in effect until further notice or until superseded by further order of this Court or the Florida Supreme Court.

The changes for Polk County courts are as follows:

Essential and Critical Proceedings

Essential and critical proceedings will continue to be conducted remotely, unless the presiding judge deems it necessary to conduct the proceeding in-person.

Essential proceedings include, but are not limited to:

  •          First appearance
  •          Criminal arraignments, as necessary
  •          Hearings on motions to set or modify monetary bail for individuals who are in custody
  •          Juvenile dependency shelter hearings
  •          Juvenile delinquency detention hearings
  •          Hearings on petitions for temporary injunctions relating to safety of an individual
  •          Hearings on petitions for risk protection orders
  •          Hearings on petitions for the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian
  •          Hearings to determine whether an individual should be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act or the Marchman Act
  •          Hearings on petitions for extraordinary writs as necessary to protect constitutional rights
  •          Critical proceedings related to the state of emergency or the public health emergency, include, but are not limited to proceedings related to:
  •          Violation of quarantine or isolation
  •          Violation of orders to limit travel
  •          Violation of orders to close public or private building
  •          Enforcement of curfew orders

Non-Essential Proceedings and Non-Critical Proceedings

All non-essential and non-critical proceedings shall be conducted using remote technology.  Click here for the virtual/video courtroom appearance instructions.

Rescheduling Canceled Proceedings

For matters that are not rescheduled by the Clerk of Court, it is up to the parties to reschedule any proceedings that have been stayed, cancelled, or postponed. The Clerk of Court and the Judicial Assistant of the assigned judge id tasked with informing a party who inquires as to whether a matter is to be rescheduled by the Clerk or the parties with the assistance of the Judicial Assistant.

IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF YOUR COURT DATE, PLEASE CHECK YOUR PAPERWORK OR CONTACT OUR OFFICE.

Presence of Children at Shelter Hearings

Unless directed otherwise by the assigned judge, the presence of children at shelter hearings is waived during the Court’s response to the pandemic or until further order

Weekender Program:

As a result of social distancing requirements, the Weekender Program may not be able to accommodate the full number of participants in the program. If the program reaches maximum capacity for any weekend and must turn participants away due to social distancing requirements, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shall provide the Court with a list of the names of the individuals turned away and unable to complete their weekend work-release requirements due to no fault of their own.

Continuance of Fines and/or Court Costs in County Criminal Cases and Non-Criminal Traffic Violations

The Clerks of Court may, without request, extend the time for the payment of fines and/or costs imposed in county criminal cases for a period of sixty (60) days and for non-criminal traffic violations for a period of one hundred-twenty (120) days. This is a special limited exception to Administrative Order 7-16.0, In Re: Continuances of Fines and/or Court Costs, entered on March 20, 2020.


Jury Duty

Jury trials and jury duty are suspended through July 31, 2020.
Anyone with a summons to report prior to July 31 SHOULD NOT report for duty. There is no need to request an excusal or postponement while jury is suspended.
Updates will be shared here, on the juror hotline at 863-534-4582, and on the Polk County Clerk Facebook page. Updates will be shared on www.polkcountyclerk.net, the Juror Hotline 863-534-4582, the Polk County Clerk Facebook page.

You can view information about the Supreme Court Order here https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/News-Media/Court-News/Chief-Justice-issues-emergency-order-expanding-remote-hearings-and-suspending-jury-trials-into-early-July-statewide

 


Foreclosure Sales and Evictions

Governor DeSantis issued an executive order further extending the suspension of foreclosures and evictions due to non-payment of tenants until August 1, 2020.

Clarification: Only foreclosure sales are canceled, foreclosure hearings are NOT canceled.

Writs of Possession: the requirement of the Clerk to issue a writ of possession “forthwith” is suspended through June 30, 2020.


Marriage/Passports

Marriage

MARRIAGE SERVICES: Marriage services are available at all three office locations. The following guidelines apply to all couples seeking a marriage license or marriage ceremony:

1.    Couples must call to make an appointment both to apply for a marriage license AND to make an appointment for a marriage ceremony at 863-534-4000. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

2.    While making the appointment via telephone, you need to have the following information for both parties:
a. Names
b. Addresses
c. Phone numbers
d. Dates of Birth
e. Birthplaces (State or Foreign Country)
f. Social Security numbers
g. Number of marriages
h. Date last marriage ended (Month/Day/Year), reason (divorce, death, etc.)
i. Maiden name
j. Does couple have minor child or children in common born in the State of Florida

3.    For marriage license application appointments, the couples will need to have the following for both individuals at the time of the appointment:
a. IDs – either a Driver’s License or Passport
b. Premarital Course Certificate, if applicable

4.    For the safety of our staff and the couples receiving marriage services, only the individuals getting married will be allowed into the building for marriage licenses and marriage ceremonies. Additionally, marriage ceremonies will be performed by Clerk employees from behind the customer service window rather than the marriage ceremony room.

If you have any questions you can reach our office at 863-534-4000.

*Please note, all customers who enter the building undergo a verbal health screening prior to being permitted to enter.

Passports

In alignment with the U.S. Department of State’s closure of passport agencies, the Clerk’s office is suspending passport application services.

 


 

Administrative Order 1-53.3