Q: The date of this interview, Sept. 15, was the day jury trials resumed in St. Johns County after being suspended due to the coronavirus. Can you share any insights on this?
A: Today was our first jury trial since March and it began and was completed today. It was an almost ideal type of trial for our first one — very straightforward. Everything went off without a hitch. We are excited to bring jury trials back to our criminal justice system.
Our staff has been very diligent in following CDC guidelines pertaining to COVID and we stay up to date on procedures daily. As a result, we’ve been very fortunate and have experienced little impact to the courthouse or county needs.
Q: Will other jury trials now be scheduled?
A: Yes, we have another trial scheduled for next week [week of Sept. 21] and then as regularly scheduled in October. I’d like to ask readers, if they’ve been summoned, to please follow the instructions on the jury summons if they feel the need to be excused for any reason. This is important so we may ensure we have enough jurors.
Q: Do you have any other courthouse updates?
A: Civil traffic court has also resumed. If you have received a traffic citation and want to contest it in court, please contact our traffic department at (904) 819-3628.
Q: What is the latest on last month’s topic regarding the eviction and foreclosure moratorium?
A: To follow up on what we discussed last month, the eviction and foreclosure moratorium has been extended to Oct. 1. Again, it’s important to note the nuance that court action will not happen only if there is COVID-related impact. An example would be if someone lost their job due to COVID, which related to loss of income. Earlier on, the moratorium was not this specific. Evictions year over year are down because landlords and banks haven’t been filing, but that could change. Communication is key between all the different parties.
Q: Do you have anything else to share with St. Johns County residents?
A: Our office holds Operation Green Light annually in compliance with F.S. 322.75 (1) which reads as follows: “Each clerk of court shall establish a Driver License Reinstatement Days program for reinstating suspended driver licenses. Participants may include, but are not limited to, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the state attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, the circuit and county courts, the clerk of court, and any interested community organization.” During the week of Oct. 12 – Oct. 16, 2020, residents of St. Johns County are afforded the opportunity to pay fines without a 40 percent surcharge. Contact our office directly for more information.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you or your office?
A: A lot of questions can be answered by visiting our website, www.stjohnsclerk.com, which is most commonly used to pay traffic citations or search court records. We also post frequent updates on social media; be sure to follow us on Facebook. People can also call our main office at (904) 819-3600.