By Fraz Ahmed, JBA Board of Governors
Typically, I would be writing this article from the quiet comfort of my office on Bay Street. But today, I write at home.
Home, where my girls are wildly dancing, singing and begging me to inflate their bouncy house.
Where my dogs are barking at every package that is brought to our door, which as those of you who know my wife, Lindsay, know, is a lot. Where everywhere I look, I see something else that needs fixing.
But today, home is the place where I am preparing for telephonic hearings, hosting multiple conference calls and drafting pleadings, all while watching Frozen II on repeat and having a tea party with two little divas, both dressed in Moana costumes.
I haven’t had a workday like this since … ever.
Very few, if any of us, have experienced a time like this. There have been wars, natural disasters, recessions, terrorist attacks and other times of crisis, but this is different.
Every country across the globe either has been or will be affected by the coronavirus. Countless businesses and organizations have been greatly impacted, not to mention what this has done to individuals.
All of us have been touched in some way that we never imagined.
It is natural to stress, worry and/or panic. But unfortunately, those feelings and emotions will neither help solve anything nor are they good for our mental health. Going to the grocery store is stressful enough.
Initially, Lindsay and I were concerned about the possibility of our youngest child, Silas, running around sans diaper during what will likely be dubbed as The Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020. As shocking as it may sound, shelves were restocked, we have toilet paper and Silas has diapers.
As lawyers, we are Type A people and most of us have been greatly concerned about the negative impacts this pandemic will have on our law practices.
Instead of focusing on the bad, let’s each do our part and try to focus on what we can do to put each of our clients in a better position for when we are on the other side of this. We can each work on moving our clients’ cases forward and look at strategic and creative ways to resolve cases in the meantime.
I was supposed to be in trial last week. Today I had to reschedule eight depositions in one case that were set to take place over the next couple of weeks.
I know many that are in the same boat.
However, trials will be reset and depositions will be rescheduled. As frustrating as it is, in time, life will return to business as usual.
It is imperative during this time of uncertainty to stay informed. The Jacksonville Bar Association is here to help. Fortunately, over the past several years, the JBA has been updating its equipment and remote capabilities.
The JBA is open for business to help keep us all informed with the most recent developments. We are monitoring the situation around the state and publishing up-to-date information.
Statewide, all jury trials have been suspended at least until March 30. In Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, all Circuit and County Court jury trials have been suspended through May 1.
Hearings are to be conducted by audio or video. The parties should confer and agree on who will initiate the conference call before contacting the judge’s chambers. If the parties cannot agree, the moving party will be responsible for having all parties on one line before contacting the court.
In Duval County, any party who believes that an in-person hearing is necessary may file a request with the judge. Those requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If the parties agree to use videoconferencing, those hearings shall be conducted using a commercial application such as Zoom, located at Zoom.us.
In Duval and Clay counties, setting cases for trial will be done only through email.
For specific information regarding civil or criminal hearings relating to each county, visit jaxbar.org/page/JBAUpdates.
The website also posts administrative orders from other circuits as well as federal courts.
To stay informed, connect with the JBA social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter and monitor the website.
We will continue to provide the most current information.
Many of us and our clients will feel negative economic impact during this time, but remember the hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering from COVID-19, the thousands who are dying and the many more who are in critical care.
Remember our first responders and medical professionals who are putting their lives at risk to treat members of our community.
Take a deep breath, practice social distancing, cherish the time with your family. FaceTime with your parents and loved ones and keep your thoughts and prayers with those that are most vulnerable during this time.
Fraz Ahmed is a board certified trial attorney at Coker Law focusing on plaintiff personal injury representation.