All Florida state courts will be closed Friday as Hurricane Irma approaches and threatens most of the state, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga said Wednesday, citing the safety of court users, court staff and judges.
An administrative order signed by Labarga includes a general statewide extension of legal time limits that cannot be met because of the hurricane as well as a provision for longer deadline extensions when needed in individual cases, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Florida’s judges also have the authority to make exceptions to the closure of courts for emergency matters, according to Labarga’s administrative order.
Additionally, all 20 judicial circuits in the state and five district courts of appeal have “the authority and responsibility” to close courts and offices as needed as more information develops on the path of Hurricane Irma.
“The hazards associated with Hurricane Irma may impede the ability of litigants, witnesses, jurors, judges, court staff and others in the performance of their duties and obligations … throughout the state of Florida,” Labarga’s order reads, noting that Gov. Rick Scott had declared a state of emergency and ordered state offices throughout Florida to be closed on Friday.
By Wednesday morning, courts in several South Florida counties had already announced that they would be closed on Fridayand some on Thursday as well.