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Michael G. Takac

Circuit Judge

Judicial Assistant: Stephanie Sutton
Office: 352-742-4285
Fax: 352-742-4310

*NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC:* The Code of Judicial Conduct governing behavior by judges forbids the Judges of the Fifth Judicial Circuit to discuss 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.

General Procedures

HEARINGS

Hearings should be scheduled by contacting the Judicial Assistant, Stephanie Sutton, at 352-742-4285. Long distance calls cannot be returned unless you have a toll-free number.  Please call back.  Thank you for your patience.

Your coordinated hearing date must be confirmed by phone call to the J.A. and properly filed “notice of hearing” in the court file together with an emailed copy thereof to ssutton@circuit5.org.  Confirmation of cancellations as soon as known to counsel are greatly appreciated.  (Preferably by copy of the “notice of cancellation”).

In the event you are asked to submit a “proposed” or “draft” document to the Judge, then please email your proposal in WORD format, 11 pt, Verdana to ssutton@circuit5.org.  Any other documents, such as cover letter, can be in PDF format.  Stamped, addressed envelopes are to be provided for any party that has not filed a Designation of Email for Electronic Service.

Any question(s) asked by the Judge should be interpreted only as an opportunity for you to instruct or correct the Court about the fact(s), law, or argument(s) raised in that particular hearing.  Do not be shy.  The court and your client are relying on you to concisely put forth your position within the time reserved.

DELIVERIES

If you would like to submit documents (e.g., motions, exhibits, evidence, etc.) for the Judge to have during your hearing, hard copies (i.e., paper) are preferred.  U.S. mail should be delivered to 550 West Main Street, Suite 15, Tavares, FL 32778.  Federal Express, UPS, or other private shipping services should be directed to 313 South Bloxham Avenue, Tavares, FL 32778.  Hand deliveries in sealed envelopes, boxes, etc., and the like ARE NOT ACCEPTED IN THE JUDGE’S SUITE as security officers are instructed to prevent their entry into the building.  If you have questions about your intended delivery, please contact Ms. Sutton at the number above.  Please note that emails will not be printed and therefore, are not a substitute for hard copy delivery.

EMAIL

RARELY, if ever, will the Judge respond to emails.  Under no circumstances should anyone try to submit evidence, arguments, or otherwise discuss a case with the judge through email or other ex parte communication.

CONDUCT

The Judge expects all counsel to conduct themselves at all times in the manner contemplated by the Professional Code of Conduct.  Prior to requesting hearing dates for most matters, such as extensions, discovery, remote testimony or accommodations, counsel are expected to confer with the opposing side(s) to see if an agreement can be reached.

Requested orders that are based upon “stipulation” or other “agreement” are most effectively rendered by placing the “stipulation” or “agreement” in the record, as opposed to ex parte email or written correspondence to the Judge’s office.  In other words, if a party agrees to your relief, state such in the motion itself or separately file the opposing party’s acknowledgment of there being no objection.

TRIALS

The Judge will endeavor to set each party’s trial for a specific date requested by the parties.  This procedure works best when litigants cooperate to not request dates until they are ready to appear for trial within the reasonable near future and when litigants know requests to continue a trial date requested by them will not be granted without extraordinary circumstances beyond any parties control.  That is Judge Takac’s policy.  Mere “stipulations” to continue are not extraordinary circumstances.  All parties headed to trial will be given specific disclosure requirements to meet in order to assure that their intended evidence will be admitted at trial.  Please be sure to comply with the Disclosure Order!

Remote Appearance (Zoom, Telephone, Etc.)

In order to avail oneself of an opportunity to coordinate proceedings via internet “zoom” technology, the party filing the “Notice of Hearing” (or trial, etc.) must:

  • Secure permission from the Judicial Assistant when initially coordinating the hearing.
  • Include one (1) contact email for the party filing the “Notice” which email is to be the address where the Judicial Assistant will send the “zoom” invitation approximately one (1) week prior to the scheduled matter. A copy of the notice should be emailed to the Judicial Assistant at ssutton@circuit5.org.
  • IT IS THEN THE NOTICING PARTY’S (i.e., contact email) RESPONSIBILITY TO FORWARD, AND CERTIFY DOING SO, THE ZOOM INVIATION TO ALL PARTIES/ENTITIES ENTITLED TO NOTICE OF THE PROCEEDING(S), such as all entities of record via filed “Notice of Appearance.”

Example: The zoom invitation will be sent to “email address provided” approximately one (1) week prior to the hearing.  That contact email addressee is then responsible for forwarding the zoom invitation to all parties for the hearing.

Parties need not wait to receive the “zoom” invitation to file their “Notice.” UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE ACTUAL “ZOOM” LINK APPEAR ON THE “NOTICE” BEING FILED WITH THE CLERK.

*”Zoom” proceedings cannot, obviously, be coordinated where a party entitled to appear does not possess internet capabilities.

Telephone appearance is, generally, discouraged.  As the case with “zoom,” they are best arranged with agreement, at the time the hearing is initially coordinated.  All requests should, first, confer with opposing counsel/party.  A motion, not email, is required to obtain telephonic appearance not coordinated in open Court with the Judge present.  The proponent of any telephone appearance will be required to make such arrangement available to all parties.  Every party seeking to avail themselves of telephone appearance will bear the burden/prejudice/risk caused by such facility.  E.g., inability to examine evidence or document presented to the Court; a disconnect of the telephone transmission; etc.).

ANY REMOTE ACCOMMODATION SOUGHT FOR AN INDIVIDUAL’S APPEARANCE (attorney or witness) where other individuals will be present in the Courthouse requires the proponent of such remote appearance to make all accommodations necessary to make the appearance happen.  E.g., if you want a witness to appear via “zoom,” bring your laptop, send the “zoom” link.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE WILL THE COURT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FAILURE OF ANY TECHNOLOGY that a party has sought to employ.  That is why evidentiary matters are designed and expected to occur in person.

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