Judge Pepperman

Carla R. Pepperman
County Judge

Judicial Assistant: Kim Dabney
Office: 352-742-4127
Fax: 352-742-4323

PROCEDURES FOR JUDGE PEPPERMAN’S OFFICE

NOTE – PLEASE REVIEW ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER L-2022-30 THAT REQUIRES DISMISSAL OF ANY CASE IN WHICH THE DEFENDANTS HAVE NOT BEEN SERVED AFTER THREE ATTEMPTS! 

Click here for New Small Claims Pre-Trial Conference/Mediation Policies for Lake County EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 10, 2022

COVID-19 IMPORTANT MEMO

IMPORTANT!

SOME PROCEDURES HAVE CHANGED DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC!

MOST HEARINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED VIA ZOOM TECHNOLOGY. CERTAIN HEARINGS MAY NOW BE CONDUCTED IN PERSON AT THE DISCRETION OF THE COURT. 

PLEASE CONTACT THE JUDICIAL ASSISTANT AT 352-742-4127 OR kdabney@circuit5.org IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.

GENERAL INFORMATION

1. Please call the Judicial Assistant (JA) at 352-742-4127 or email to kdabney@circuit5.org to schedule hearings.

2. If you file a motion or request asking the Judge to take action on your case, it is YOUR responsibility to contact the Judicial Assistant to set a hearing. We schedule hearings generally no further out than 60 days of your request.

3. All hearings require a minimum of 5 business days notice, unless all parties agree otherwise. Self-represented parties must file the Notice of Hearing with the Clerk of Courts and furnish a copy to all parties involved in the case at least 10 days prior to the hearing by U.S.P.S. Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested or some other means with proof of service. It is not necessary to send a copy to the Judge’s office.

4. Claim of Exemption hearings are usually scheduled within 10 to 15 business days, if there is time available on the Judge’s calendar.

5. Landlord Tenant Eviction hearings for non-payment of rent and Motions to Determine Rent hearings are usually scheduled within 10 business days of the request, if there is time available on the Judge’s calendar.

6. Please do not submit proposed Final Judgment packages or Orders prior to a hearing. They can be submitted afterwards.

7. All documents must be filed with the Clerk’s office not the Judge’s office.

8. Please do not submit any checks to the Judge’s office or your entire package will be returned to you.

9. You are encouraged to become familiar with Zoom prior to your hearing date. LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH ZOOM WILL NOT BE A REASON TO POSTPONE YOUR HEARING.

10. If there is a problem logging in on time, please call our office at 352-742-4127 or email to kdabney@circuit5.org and advise the Judicial Assistant. Please understand, however, there is no guarantee the Judge will be able to accommodate you.

11. Please be sure to provide an email address, otherwise you may not receive notice of what is happening in your case.

TO SET A HEARING

1. Please call the Judicial Assistant (JA) at 352-742-4127 or email kdabney@circuit5.org to set your hearing.

2. Please provide the following information when scheduling:

a. The Case Number.

b. The Style (names of both parties) of the case.

c.  What the hearing is for (the motion being heard).

d. The amount of time needed for the hearing.

e.  If there are any time restrictions or deadlines for the hearing, please inform the JA.

3. If dates are needed to coordinate with the other side, the JA will provide you with dates and times. Please keep in mind that these dates and times are NOT held for you, so you must contact the JA to actually have it put onto the Judge’s calendar.

CROSS-NOTICING HEARINGS

1.  You cannot automatically cross notice a hearing.

2.  Please notify the JA of your request to cross-notice a hearing.  The JA will determine if there is time allowed for the cross-notice.

3.  If the Court is not contacted regarding your request to cross-notice, your motion will not be heard, unless all parties agree that there is sufficient time.

SMALL CLAIMS PRELIMINARY PRETRIALS AND MEDIATIONS

All small claims cases shall proceed as follows:

  1. The first step is a Preliminary Pre-Trial Hearing. These are held in person at the Courthouse. No telephonic or Zoom appearance is allowed by the Court.
  2. The next step is Mediation which is held with the volunteer mediators. If both parties are in attendance, Mediation will be held immediately after the Preliminary Pre-Trial hearing. This is your only chance to mediate your case through the Court. (Please see memo effective October 10, 2022)
  3. If the case is not resolved at Mediation, then a Pre-Trial Conference is scheduled with the Judge via Zoom. The Pre-Trial Conference cannot be waived and will be scheduled by the Court and a Notice of Hearing will be sent by the Judicial Assistant.

PLEASE NOTE:  The Pretrial/Mediation can only be waived if both parties and their clients stipulate to that in writing and must file it into the Court file, followed by submission of the appropriate proposed Order.

NOTICE OF HEARING BY ZOOM
  1. First, please call the Judicial Assistant at 352-742-4127 or email kdabney@circuit5.org and she will provide you with a Zoom hearing date, Zoom invitation and information.
  2. You will then be required to prepare, file and send a Notice of Hearing by Zoom for any hearing that you set.
  3. If you do not have an attorney, you can CLICK HERE for a fillable form for a Notice of Hearing by Zoom.
  4. If you do not have an attorney, you must do the following:

A.) Print out the Zoom invitation that was provided to you by the Judicial Assistant.

B.) Fill out and print the Notice of Hearing by Zoom.  This form must be filled out completely and signed and dated by you.

C.) Make as many copies of the Notice of Hearing and the Zoom invitation that you will need to provide one to each party and one to file with the Clerk’s office.  Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.

D.) Attach a Zoom invitation to each copy of the Notice of Hearing.

E.) Mail the Notice of Hearing with the Zoom invitation attached at least 10 days prior to the hearing date to each party involved in the case.  Be sure to mail it by some means that you get a receipt, for example, U.S.P.S. Certified Mail.

F.) Within one (1) day of mailing, take the Notice of Hearing, Zoom invitation and receipt for mailing to the Clerk’s office and file it into your Court case file.

FINAL EVIDENTIARY HEARING FOR TENANT EVICTION

FINAL EVIDENTIARY HEARING FOR TENANT EVICTION

IMPORTANT! All attorneys, parties, and witnesses at the trial shall have the capability to appear by video, not merely audio.  It is the responsibility of each party to ensure that their witnesses have that capability.  The Court will not hear testimony by any witness, including a party, who is not present by video, so that the Court can assure that the witness is properly sworn, as well as to allow the Court to adequately assess the witness’s demeanor.

NOTICE OF FINAL EVIDENTIARY HEARING FOR TENANT EVICTION BY ZOOM

  1. First, please contact the Judicial Assistant at kdabney@circuit5.org or 352-742-4127 and she will provide you with a Zoom hearing date, Zoom invitation and information.
  2. You will then be required to prepare, mail and file a Notice of Final Evidentiary Hearing for Tenant Eviction by Zoom.
  3. If you do not have an attorney, you can CLICK HERE for a fillable form for a Notice of Final Evidentiary Hearing for Tenant Eviction by Zoom.
  4. If you do not have an attorney, you must do the following:
  5. Print out the Zoom invitation that was provided to you by the Judicial Assistant.
  6. Fill out and print the Notice of Final Evidentiary Hearing for Tenant Eviction by Zoom. This form must be filled out completely and signed and dated by you.
  7. Make as many copies of the Notice of Final Evidentiary Hearing for Tenant Eviction by Zoom and the Zoom invitation that you will need to provide one to each party and one to file with the Clerk’s office.  Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
  8. Attach a Zoom invitation to each copy of the Notice of Final Evidentiary Hearing for Tenant Eviction by Zoom.
  9. Mail the Notice of Final Evidentiary Hearing for Tenant Eviction by Zoom with the Zoom invitation attached at least 10 days prior to the hearing date to each party involved in the case.  Be sure to mail it by some means that you get a receipt, for example, U.S.P.S. Certified Mail.
  10. Within one (1) day of mailing, take the Notice of Hearing, Zoom invitation and receipt for mailing to the Clerk’s office and file it into your Court case file.

 

SUBMITTING EVIDENCE FOR THE FINAL EVIDENTIARY HEARING

  1. All prospective evidence must be printed out even if you have filed it into the Court case file.
  2. All prospective evidence shall be provided to the Court and opposing party or counsel no later than five (5) days prior to the hearing. See paragraph 5 for address.
  3. Each submission must be identified by CASE NUMBER and identify which party is submitting the proposed evidence (ex. Plaintiff or Defendant).
  4. Evidence on cell phones (such as emails, tests and photographs) cannot be submitted into the Court unless they are printed out.
  5. All prospective evidence must be mailed or hand-delivered to the following address: Carla R. Pepperman, County Judge, Lake County Courthouse, Suite 9, 550 West Main Street, Tavares, FL 32778; or may be hand-delivered by courier to: Mail Receiving Center, Records Storage Facility, 313 South Bloxam Avenue, Tavares, FL 32778.
SUBMITTING PROPOSED ORDERS

SUBMITTING PROPOSED ORDERS BY EMAIL:

  • ATTORNEYS MAY NOW SUBMIT PROPOSED ORDERS VIA EMAIL.
  • DO NOT SEND THE SAME PROPOSED ORDER MORE THAN ONCE.
  • DO NOT ALSO SEND PAPER COPIES OF THE PROPOSED ORDER YOU HAVE EMAILED. SUBMIT BY EMAIL OR BY MAIL, BUT NOT BOTH WAYS!
  • If your submission does not meet the following requirements, your email (with all attachments) will be returned to you and deleted from our system. After you make the necessary corrections, you must then resubmit everything by regular mail (not email) with  copies for conforming and stamped addressed envelopes for any self-represented parties for this submission.
  • If your submission is not signed by the Judge, it will be e-filed and e-served to you with a Case Information Sheet and will be deleted from our system. Once you have made the correction(s), it will be necessary for you to resubmit all the documents (including a cover letter).

YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Submit proposed orders for Small Claims and County Civil cases only.
  • Submit to JudgePeppermanProposedOrders@circuit5.org
  • Submit proposed orders in WORD format.
  • Submissions must include a cover letter in PDF format.
  • Submissions must be saved no larger than 8.5”x11”.
  • Each document must be saved with the case number and name, such as: 19SC123-Cover letter and 19CC123-FJ or 19CC123-Order.
  • If more than one document is being submitted, you must identify each one, such as: 19CC123-Order to Compel and 19CC123-Order to Set Aside.
  • DO NOT send any documents other than the cover letter and proposed document for signature to this email address.
  • DO NOT include a Certificate of Service or a list for copies at the bottom of your proposed documents.
  • DO NOT send any proposed documents for cases other than Small Claims or County Civil.
  • DO NOT send proposed documents for traffic cases via this email.
  • DO NOT send any proposed Writs of Garnishment via this email.
  • YOU MUST ADD the following statement to each proposed document in the same size and font style as the rest of the document, and in the same way as shown below, prior to the date and signature line:

It is further ORDERED and ADJUDGED that within 5 days from the date of e-service of this Order/Judgment, the attorney submitting this Order/Judgment shall:

Furnish a copy of this Order/Judgment to each self-represented party by U.S. Mail, first class, postage paid or via the E-Portal and,

File a certificate signed by that attorney that delivery of this Order/Judgment has been made as set forth herein.

 

SUBMITTING PROPOSED ORDERS BY MAIL:

  • IF YOU ARE AN ATTORNEY:
  • You must send copies for conforming and stamped, addressed envelopes for all pro-se parties. Your copy will be e-served to you.
  • If a proposed order is returned to you unsigned with a Case Information Sheet, it will be eserved to you through the EPortal. All copies and envelopes will be destroyed so it will be necessary for you to resubmit the entire package once you make the necessary corrections.
  • DO include a Certificate of Service or list for copies at the bottom of your proposed orders.
  • DO NOT include the statement regarding service as shown under Submitting Proposed Orders by Email in your proposed orders.

 

  • IF YOU ARE SELF REPRESENTED:
  • All proposed orders must be submitted with copies to send to every party listed in the lawsuit, together with stamped, addressed envelopes.
  • If a proposed order is returned to you unsigned with a Case Information Sheet, all the copies and envelopes are returned to you as well. Please correct the issue(s) and return the proposed order with the copies and envelopes.
SUBMITTING CASE LAW AND PROSPECTIVE EVIDENCE
  1. TO SUBMIT CASE LAW FOR A HEARING – you may submit it via email to JudgePeppermanHearingMaterials@circuit5.org. All documents must be sent as an attachment and NOT just in the body of the email.  Please be sure to label each attachment with the case number and be sure to include the date of the hearing in your email.  CASE LAW MUST BE SUBMITTED AT LEAST 7 DAYS PRIOR TO THE HEARING.
  2. TO SUBMIT PROSPECTIVE EVIDENCE FOR A TRIALyou MUST submit all prospective evidence by hard copy to the judge’s office, even if you have filed it into the Court case file. Please be sure to clearly mark the case number on all submissions. EVIDENCE MUST BE SUBMITTED BY THE DUE DATE SHOWN ON THE TRIAL ORDER.
  3. TO SUBMIT PROSPECTIVE EVIDENCE FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING INCLUDING TENANT EVICTION HEARINGS – If you will be introducing ANY type of evidence for your hearing, you MUST inform the judicial assistant that this is an “evidentiary hearing” when scheduling your hearing. Any prospective evidence must be submitted via hard copy to the judge’s office at least 5 days prior to your hearing, even if you have filed it into the Court case file.  Please be sure to clearly mark the case number on all submissions.
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE REQUIREMENTS

1.  Order to Compel must have already been issued.

2.  Please call the JA at 352-742-4127 or email kdabney@circuit5.org and she will provide you with a date for your hearing, usually approximately 6 weeks out.

3.  CLICK HERE for Court approved form.

4. Order must be personally served on the party.  No substitute service is allowed.

FILING DOCUMENTS

1. When you file documents, the Judge’s office does not receive notification or copies of the documents, so if you are requesting or expecting any Court action on the motion or request, you must contact the Judge’s office.

2. If you file a motion or request that requires a hearing, you must call the JA or email kdabney@circuit5.org to schedule the hearing, as the Judge will not know your motion has been filed.

TO CANCEL A HEARING OR TRIAL

TO CANCEL A HEARING OR TRIAL:

1.  You must call the JA at 352-742-4127 or email kdabney@circuit5.org to notify the Court of the cancellation and state the reason for cancellation.

2.  If a Notice of Hearing has been filed, you must prepare a Notice of Cancellation and file it with the Clerk’s office and notify the other parties.

3. You must also send a copy of the Notice of Cancellation to the Judge’s office, to one of the following:

Email – kdabney@circuit5.org    or    Fax – 352-742-4323

TO CONTINUE A HEARING OR TRIAL

1.  You must call the JA at 352-742-4127 or email kdabney@circuit5.org to notify the court of the request to continue.

2.  The proper motion must be filed with the Clerk’s office.

3.  You must schedule a hearing on your motion or have consent from all parties to continue.  There is no guarantee the Court will continue the hearing or trial.

4.  The JA will provide you with alternative dates and times to coordinate with the other party or parties, if appropriate.

5.  Once the date is coordinated, you must contact the JA to actually put it on the calendar.

6.  You must prepare an Amended Notice of Hearing or Trial.

*NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC:* The Code of Judicial Conduct governing behavior by judges forbids the Judges of the Fifth Judicial Circuit from discussing pending cases with the public. Please do not call the Court expecting to speak with a Judge about any case. The Court is only allowed to consider arguments made in the courtroom and in documents properly filed by actual parties in the case as authorized by law and the Rules of Court. The Court cannot ethically read or consider any other opinions or arguments about the case. Communications that do not meet these legal requirements cannot be forwarded to the Judges.

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