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Frequently Asked Questions: For Litigants

  • Where is the clerk's office?

    There are five divisions and five federal courthouses in the Middle District of Florida, and there is a clerk's office in each courthouse.

    Fort Myers
    2110 First Street
    Fort Myers, Florida 33901

    Jacksonville
    300 North Hogan Street
    Jacksonville, Florida 32202

    Ocala
    207 Northwest Second Street
    Ocala, Florida 34475

    Orlando
    401 West Central Boulevard
    Orlando, Florida 32801

    Tampa
    801 North Florida Avenue
    Tampa, Florida 33602

  • Is this the naturalization office?
  • 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?

    Each judge maintains his or her own hearing calendar. You cannot schedule a hearing but may request one by filing a motion that complies with Local Rule 3.01.

  • 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.

    There might be fees for services provided by the clerk’s office, such as copy fees, document certification, and attorney admission. For more information, view our fee schedule.

  • 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?

    From any clerk's office, you can view a document filed in any division, but you can only view the original at the clerk's office in the division where it was filed.

  • 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."

    • A dispute that involves a federal law (as opposed to a state law or local ordinance);
    • A dispute that involves the United States of America (or any of its agencies, officers, or employees in their official capacities) as a party; and
    • A dispute between citizens of different states with an amount in controversy that is more than $75,000.

    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:

    • Fort Myers: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, and Lee
    • Jacksonville: Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Hamilton, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, and Union
    • Ocala: Citrus, Lake, Marion, and Sumter
    • Orlando: Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia
    • Tampa: Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota
  • 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.

    Court library staff members also are prohibited from giving legal advice or helping complete a form. They can show you where books are in the library and how to make copies of library materials.

  • 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.

  • How are judges assigned to a case?

    The court randomly assigns a district and magistrate judge to each case, using an automated case-management system.

  • 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?
    • Filing a document in the wrong division or court.
       
    • Filing a district-court document with a state or bankruptcy court.
       
    • Filing a document without an original signature.
       
    • Filing a document without a complete or correct case number or case style at the top.
       
    • Filing a copy of a document instead of the original.
       
    • Faxing a document to the clerk of court.
       
    • Filing a document without a complete address and telephone number for the filing party.
       
    • Filing an emergency pleading or motion in the dropbox.
       
    • Filing a document with a long or confusing title or no title.
       
    • Filing separate documents attached, stapled, or bound.
       
    • Filing a document with exhibit tabs protruding beyond the normal page width.
       
    • Filing a document with individually stapled exhibits.
       
    • Filing a document with a loose page or exhibit.
       
    • Filing a document with paper size, font size, or margins not in compliance with Local Rule 1.05(a).
       
    • Filing a civil action or removal action without the civil cover sheet.
       
    • Filing a document without paying the filing fees or applying to proceed without pre-paying them.
  • 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 addresses of the courthouses in each division are on the homepage and also below under, General, and, “Where is the clerk’s office?

    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?

    The clerk signs, dates, and seals the summons. The plaintiff must prepare and serve it on the defendant. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure sets forth the rules regarding service.