Marion County courts are reminding the public that masks must be worn before, during, and after in-court proceedings and jury assemblies.
The Fifth Judicial Circuit Court issued Amended Administrative Order A-2021-35-A, extending the use of masks within court facilities “until further order” by Circuit Chief Judge Daniel B. Merritt, Jr.
Currently, face masks must be worn “by all persons while in all areas of all Fifth Judicial Circuit facilities in which a court proceeding is to be held,” including courtrooms, hearing rooms, and chambers.
The order specifies that masks must be worn before, during, and after proceedings, except when a judge, “in his or her sound discretion,” grants temporary removal as “justice may require.”
In the order, the court cites COVID-19 positivity rates driven by “the development of the Delta Variant of the COVID-19 virus,” and says that “temporary mitigation measures” are warranted to “protect health and safety of the public and members of the judicial branch.”
The Fifth Judicial Court is comprised of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties. There are currently 31 circuit court judges and 11 county court judges.
The circuit is the ninth most populous circuit, seeing over 131,863 court filings per year and serving a total population of over one million residents.