Local judge hopes a COVID-19 amendment allowing video, becomes permanent
OKALOOSA COUNTY— Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Supreme Court allowed the court system to use video technology as a way to continue hearing cases.
Because of these amendments, individuals could be sworn in through remote hearings using video technology.
“We’re well-prepared for the challenge,” said JD Peacock II, Okaloosa County’s Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller. “I’m a big believer in using technology and innovation to get the docket moving.”
Peacock said the courts have been using a zoom-style hearing for all cases not involving a jury trial.
Judge William F. Stone, a circuit judge for the Okaloosa County courthouse said, he as an individual, is also an advocate of using technology to better the courts.
He said he wants the Supreme Court to continue offering this service after the pandemic is over.
“This has been a positive thing,” Stone said. “I would support an immediate change.”
In previous years, if someone needed to be sworn in during a remote hearing, it would require a public notary and could be a cumbersome process, Stone said. He also said he thinks remote hearings are a valuable tool for the court system.
“This is a much more efficient way to do things,” Stone said.
Stone also said by allowing video technology, there would be less need for inmates to be bused from one side of the county to the other to attend court.
Peacock said this would be a “significant amount of money” saved.
Eric Esmond, the Okaloosa County Department of Corrections director, said because of remote hearings the county will save resources on gas, vehicle use and man power that would be used to transport inmates.
“I think it’s definitely a monetary savings,” he said.