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Frequently Asked Questions: General
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.
2110 First Street
Fort Myers, Florida 33901
300 North Hogan Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
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?
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.
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 right in the United States Constitution;
- 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 (https://pacer.uscourts.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.
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).
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 4 sets forth the rules regarding service.