Accessibility of JAs – More Proof Florida Courts Need Help

Not too long ago, when I called a judge’s assistant, I’d get a friendly voice on the other end of the line.  I could discuss just about anything – scheduling issues, proposed orders, hearings … whatever.  Judicial assistants often went out of their way to be helpful.

Nowadays, this dynamic is totally different.  If I call a judicial assistant today, I’m almost certain to get voicemail.  Often, that voicemail message directs the caller *not* to leave a voicemail, as it won’t be returned.  Other times, voicemails go unreturned for days at a time, if at all.  The days of JAs going out of their way to be helpful are over. 

If it sounds like I’m being critical of JAs, I’m not.  I’m firmly convinced it is impossible for judicial assistants to do their jobs in the way they did just a couple of years ago, no matter how hard they try, because of the indescribable amount of work thrust upon them.  The Florida court system is like a 5-pound trash bag that’s already filled with 5 pounds of trash, yet nobody wants to hand court personnel a new bag – they just keep telling JAs to stuff more into the existing bag, acting like it’s never going to burst.   

I wish Florida’s lovely governor, Rick Scott, could understand what this dynamic is like (presuming he cares).  I wish he knew what it was like to have a phone hearing scheduled, have opposing counsel refuse to call you for the hearing, to call the court to try to participate in the hearing, and to not be able to get anyone to answer the phone.  Does that sound like a functioning court system to you – a hearing proceeds in one side’s absence because court personnel are so taxed they can’t answer all of the phone calls? 

I wish Rick Scott knew what it was like to try to set a hearing and to be unable to get through for days at a time because he can’t get a JA to answer the phone.  Is this what our court system has come to? 

Again, this is not an indictment of court personnel or staff.  This is an indictment of a governor who has no concept of the resources necessary for a court system to function.  This is a cry for help – a plea to get more staff in place for Florida’s courts.  If that sounds outlandish, then answer me this – do you think Rick Scott has inadequate staff at the Governor’s mansion?

Mark Stopa

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One Response to Accessibility of JAs – More Proof Florida Courts Need Help

  1. JamesM says:

    Agreed !
    Effective communication between parties and the court, regarding house keeping matters, is essential for a smooth running court system.

    It is bad enough that you are in mortal combat with the opposing side, but having to fight a dysfunctional system at the same time is too much.

    Thing is, the banks don’t seem to have any problem scheduling hearings or getting their documents in front of the judge.

    At a hearing the judge may not have read your motion or even have a copy, but they always seem to have the banks motion, for I don’t often see them asking the bank for a copy of their document.

    That said, I have been dealing with some JA’s in Marion County on my foreclosure up there and found some of them to be very helpful. Once they have agreed to tell you their email, which they are loth to give out to pro se litigants, things generally run as well as can be expected. There again, I am not normally trying to set hearings.

    I find the JA’s are queue orientated. One of the best ways to get things done is to have a short request to them by email so it is in their early morning queue. The older JA’s with the older judges are sometimes more on the ball than the younger ones.

    I don’t know how much kickback CourtCall gives the judges or JA’s but it does seem CourtCall is making a bundle and the direct line into the court is mostly reserved for CourtCall traffic. If the parties appearing after you are using CourtCall, there is no way you are getting a call through to the court because CourtCall is already camped on the line.

    Considering CourtCall is billing both sides, at a rate that would make Bernie Madof glow with pride, one wonders if such a system, properly implemented state wide and run by the LOW cost tecom bidder, MCI or ATT, would help streamline hearings and provide court revenue.

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