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Frequently Asked Questions: For Litigants
What is the Automated Jury Information System (AJIS)?
The Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) enables the court to provide specific, last-minute recorded information relating to the trial on which you have been called to serve. There is no attendant at this number. You will be instructed to call in at a specific time (see your summons) on a specific night, and the message will advise you to report as directed, inform you if there has been a change in the court's schedule, or direct you to call again at another designated date and time.
Do not call AJIS every night you are serving on a trial unless you are specifically instructed by the judge to do so.
AJIS toll-free number: (866) 313-2350
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida also gives jurors the ability to access their personalized reporting instructions via the Internet. By using the link below, you can access your instructions by entering your nine-digit participant number from the front of your summons and your zip code. This information will be available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just as with the telephone system. Your personalized reporting instructions will be the same whether accessed by telephone or computer.
To use this feature, click on the link below. Enter your participant number and zip code in the Web Prompt Page, and then click on the Reporting Instructions button at the bottom of the page.
If you have questions about either the AJIS telephone or Internet systems, you may call the jury staff in the division where your jury service is to take place.
Who is the contact person if I have additional questions about jury service?
You can call the jury staff for each division of the Middle District of Florida at the phone numbers listed below.
I received a Juror Exit Questionnaire. Do I have to fill it out?
No, but we hope you do. Answers to the questions help us make jury service a more positive experience.
My mother/daughter/father/son and I have the same name. I received a jury summons with that name. How can I verify the correct recipient?
To determine if you are the one receiving the summons, log into eJUROR and enter your participant number, the first three letters of your last name, and your birthday. The person whose birthday takes you to the welcome screen is the intended recipient of the questionnaire. If you are returning a paper copy, you should contact your local jury clerk to verify the correct recipient.
You can call the jury staff for each division of the Middle District of Florida at the phone numbers listed below.
What is the difference between a petit juror and a grand juror?
A petit juror serves on a criminal or civil trial. A petit jury determines issues of fact, applies the law as instructed by the judge, and deliberates to reach a verdict. A grand juror serves on a grand jury to determine whether facts and accusations presented by the United States Attorney’s Office warrant an indictment in a criminal case.
I don't live in the county where the court is located. Why was I selected as a prospective juror?
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida has five divisions:
When I have completed my service as a juror, will I be called again to serve?
The court’s pool of juror names (the divisional Master Jury Wheel) is replenished every odd-numbered year. You probably would not be in the next pool, but if you are, you may request to be excused. See the Qualifications, Excuses, Exemptions page for more information.
How will I receive payment for my jury service?
Your check will be mailed to the home address you provided when appearing for jury service. Checks are mailed about four to six weeks after completion of jury service.
Does my employer have to let me off for jury duty?
Yes. Under federal law, employers must allow their employees time off for jury duty. An employee cannot be punished for serving as a juror. Your employer has discretion whether absence for jury duty is with or without pay.
What happens if I'm serving as a juror and have an emergency?
If you are serving on a jury, it is important for you to report when required and be prompt. Absences can delay or even jeopardize trials. If you have an emergency, such as a sudden illness or a death in the family, you should follow the instructions the court gave you. If you cannot do so, you should call the jury staff in the division where your jury service is to take place.
If there is an emergency and someone must contact you during your service, they may call the jury staff in the division where your jury service is to take place, and a message will be delivered to you promptly. Have them specify that you are on jury duty.
If I am serving on a jury, will I get breaks?
Yes. Your trial judge will tell you what schedule he or she expects to follow throughout the trial.
What if I have vacations or other important events scheduled during my jury service?
You should advise the jury staff in advance so allowances can be made for such matters. Often, the court can arrange to defer jurors to more convenient times; however, you must make such a request before the first day of jury service.
May I call the court to be excused from jury duty?
No. You must request to be excused in writing. A decision will be made as quickly as possible. You may check on the status of your request through the Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) by calling (866) 313-2350 after five to seven business days have passed since you sent the request. You should only call jury staff about a request to be excused if you have a last-minute emergency that cannot be handled through the mail.
If I submit a request to be excused from jury service, do I still need to complete the Juror Information Card?
Yes. Even if you have been excused, you must return the completed form.
What does "on-call" mean for purposes of jury service?
If you are selected as a juror, you will be expected to be available to appear at the courthouse whenever instructed during your term of service. This does not mean you will report in person at the courthouse every day, but you must call-in as instructed and be ready to appear when directed to do so.
You can review your on-call term under the Length of Service section of your information sheet or click the division link below.
Where is the clerk's office?
Is this the naturalization office?No. For information on citizenship and naturalization, visit the website for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (www.uscis.gov).
How long does it take for a judge to decide a motion?
Each judge handles his or her own docket, and there is no deadline for deciding a motion.
How do I serve legal documents on someone in a foreign country?
For information on serving legal documents on someone in a foreign country, visit Travel.State.gov.
How do I schedule a hearing?
How do I file a sealed document?
You may not file a document under seal without first obtaining a court order granting a motion for leave to file under seal. Any document you want to file under seal must comply with Local Rules and the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure. You should clearly mark a document to be filed under seal. so it is easily identifiable as a sealed document. Because of the public nature of Intake, you should present sealed documents for filing in an envelope and should not place them in the dropbox.
How many copies of a pleading do I need to file?
This court only requires a party to file the original pleading, motion, memorandum, or other document. And, with a few exceptions, a lawyer may now electronically file the original pleading, motion, memorandum, or other document. You may send courtesy copies to the assigned judge, but they are unnecessary unless the judge requires them. If you want a time-stamped copy to be returned to you, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for this purpose. Copies may not be returned to you otherwise. Local Rule 3.03 prohibits filing discovery material.
What documents require a filing fee?
If you are filing an initial civil case, you must pay a $400 fee. This fee also applies to a notice of removal. If you cannot afford the fee, you must file an affidavit of indigency or motion to proceed in forma pauperis asking to be permitted to proceed without prepaying the fee. Forms are available here.
If you are filing an initial habeas corpus petition, you must pay a $5 fee.
If you are filing a notice of appeal or cross-appeal, you must pay a $505 filing fee.
If you are filing a motion for which a local case does not exist (for example, a motion to quash a subpoena from another district), you must pay a $47 miscellaneous filing fee. That fee also applies if you are registering a foreign or state-court judgment.
Is there a fee for filing a motion or obtaining a summons?
Typically, no. But if you file a motion that is not associated with a local case, you must pay a $46 miscellaneous filing fee.
How can I view a sealed document?
You cannot view a sealed document unless the court permits it. If you have permission to view a sealed document (for example, because you are a party or counsel of record and sealing was not done on an ex parte basis), you can visit the clerk's office in the division where the case was filed and present photo identification.
If I go to the clerk's office in the Orlando Division to view a document, can I view a document from a case filed in the Jacksonville Division?
Is this the right court to decide my dispute?
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida is one of 94 trial courts in the federal court system. Federal courts can decide only certain types of cases. This is known as “subject matter jurisdiction."
If your dispute does not fall into any of those four categories, you should not file your lawsuit in this court. Instead, consider state, local, or administrative courts (or perhaps arbitration, mediation, or other types of alternative-dispute-resolution means).
If your dispute falls into one of those four categories and you want to proceed in federal (as opposed to state) court, you must decide whether the Middle District of Florida is the correct venue. Generally, you may file a civil case in the district where any defendant lives or where the claim arose (28 U.S.C. §1391). If that district is the Middle District of Florida, you then must figure out the proper division of the Middle District of Florida. There are five divisions with clerk’s offices. Division offices and their associated counties are:
What information can the court give me?
The clerk’s office maintains a computer record for each lawsuit. It includes a docket, which is a chronological list of all court events and documents filed in a case. You may view the docket at public-access terminals in our clerk’s offices. Copies of any document in the docket cost $.50 a page if made by a clerk’s office employee and $.10 a page if made by the litigant using the terminals. The clerk’s office staff may provide basic docket information, in person or over the phone, but may charge a fee of $31 for a records search.
If you have internet access, you may also register for Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) and view and print the documents for your case. To register, go to the PACER registration page on the PACER website (www.pacer.gov) or call (800) 676-6856.
Using PACER may cost $.10 per printed page. PACER will give you details when you register.
Problems with PACER should be addressed to PACER, not to the court.
Can the court give me legal advice?
Although the staff of the clerk’s office can give basic, general information about court rules and procedures and certain forms, they are prohibited from giving legal advice, interpreting or applying court rules, or otherwise participating, directly or indirectly, in any case. They cannot explain the meaning of a specific rule, interpret case law, explain the result of taking or not taking an action, answer whether jurisdiction is proper, answer whether a complaint properly presents a claim, or give advice on the best procedure to accomplish a particular objective.
The judges cannot give legal advice because they will rule on motions by the parties and may ultimately decide the case. They must remain neutral. Law clerks and other judicial staff members likewise cannot give legal advice. When pursuing your case, you generally cannot speak to the judge or law clerks without the other party (or the other party’s lawyer) present. Except for proceedings in open court, all of your communications with the judge should be in writing and filed with the clerk’s office, with copies sent to all parties (or their lawyers if they are represented). Sending correspondence directly to any judge or to a judge’s chambers is improper.
Is there a fee for a lawyer to be specially admitted to practice in the court's bar?
Yes, $150. For other requirements for special admission, see Local Rule 2.02.
How can I obtain a certificate of good standing with the court's bar?
To obtain a certificate of good standing, visit the clerk's office in any division or mail a request to the clerk's office in any division. You must provide your full name, bar number, payment of $19 for each certificate, and, if the request is by mail, a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. If no self-addressed, stamped return envelope is included, the certificate will be available for pickup at the clerk's office. The clerk's office can usually provide a certificate on the spot if you request it in person. If you request a certificate by mail, the clerk's office usually takes 48 hours from receipt to mail it to you.
Why do I have to provide information about my race and gender when called to serve as a juror?
Race and gender are not factors in determining your eligibility to serve as a juror. Federal law requires a prospective juror to indicate his or her race. This information is required solely to avoid discrimination in juror selection and has no bearing on qualifications for jury service. By answering this question, you help the court ensure that discrimination cannot occur during the juror-selection process.
Where did you get my name for jury service?
Under the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida's Plan for the Qualification and Selection of Grand and Petit Jurors, voter-registration lists are the primary sources for identifying prospective jurors. Every odd-numbered year, prospective jurors are selected randomly from county voter-registration lists, and their names are put into the divisional Master Jury Wheel. Prospective jurors are then sent a juror-qualification questionnaire, which they must complete and return to the court to verify that they are qualified for jury service. Those who qualify for service might be summoned to report for service.
How are judges assigned to a case?
Can I get a passport here?
No. For information on obtaining a passport, call (877) 487-2779 or (888) 874-7793 (TTY/TTD), or visit the website for the Bureau of Consular Affairs (travel.state.gov).
Do you accept electronic filings, faxes, or copies?
If you are lawyer in a civil or criminal case, you must electronically file all documents except a document the court has permitted you to file under seal or ex parte. A lawyer may, but does not have to, file the original pleading motion, memorandum, or other document in person. For more information, see the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Administrative Procedures for Electronic Filing in Civil and Criminal Cases (link is external). If you are not a lawyer, you may file original paper documents. The court does not accept facsimiles and copies for filing.
What mistakes should I avoid in filing a document?
How much is a witness fee?
The fee for a witness to attend a federal court proceeding is $40 a day and $0.575 a mile.
What forms of payment does the clerk's office accept?
The clerk's office accepts cash, cashier's checks, certified bank checks, and money orders. Except for payment on a criminal debt or registry, the clerk's office also accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa. The clerk's office does not accept personal checks. A law firm may pay by check payable to "Clerk, United.States District Court." The clerk's office does not accept credit card payments by telephone. The name on a credit card presented at the clerk's office must match the name of the person presenting it.
How do I obtain a document from an old case?
Documents from old cases might be archived at the Federal Records Centers and unavailable for viewing at one of our clerk's offices. The fee for retrieval from the Federal Records Centers is $64 for the first box and $39 for any additional box. Call any clerk's office for more information. Transcripts from old cases may be available from the court reporter. The phone numbers for court reporters are located in the About the Judges section on the repective page for the individual judge for whom the court reporter works.
How do I obtain a document filed in a case?
You can obtain a document filed in a case by visiting the clerk's office in any division or by sending a request for a copy of the document to the clerk's office in any division with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and payment of $.50 a page.
The forms of payment accepted by the clerk's office are below under, Fees, and, "What forms of payment does the clerk's office accept?"
You can also create a Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) account and download documents through your account.
Who issues and serves a summons?