All code cases in Monroe County are heard by a Special Magistrate. The Special Magistrate has the authority to subpoena witnesses and records, order rulings on violations, assess fines, and order liens to be placed upon the property.
Property owners cited by code compliance are given a reasonable amount of time to bring their property into compliance before the case is referred to the Special Magistrate.
Notice of Appearance for Attorneys Only
Special Magistrate Rules of Procedure
The Monroe County Code Compliance Special Magistrate, in Section 8-30 shall have the power to adopt rules for the conduct of hearings.
Conduct of Meetings
1. A hearing shall be held upon request of the code compliance director, or at such other times as may be necessary. All hearings and proceedings shall be open to the public. Code compliance hearings shall be held at a time and place noticed by the director of code compliance.
2. Each case before the code compliance Special Magistrate shall be presented by the Assistant County Attorney representing Code Compliance, by the Director of Code Compliance, or his/her designee. The Special Magistrate assigned to hear Code Compliance hearings shall proceed to hear the cases on the agenda for that day. All testimony shall be under oath and shall be recorded. The Special Magistrate shall take testimony from the code inspector, the respondent (alleged violator), and any other relevant witnesses.
3. The Special Magistrate issues orders having the force of law to command whatever steps are necessary to bring a violation into compliance, including fines, repair costs, and administrative costs. However, a separate hearing is not required to issue an order acknowledging compliance.
4. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but fundamental due process shall be observed and shall govern the proceedings. Formal discovery, including depositions, is not permitted.
5. Petitioner Exhibits, Respondent Exhibits, memos, or any additional information from the Respondent or Authorized Representative and written materials or pictures from the general public must be submitted to the Code Compliance Department at least seven working days before the hearing to be considered at the hearing and to be made a part of the record of the hearing. It is impossible to adequately understand, evaluate and respond to evidence without adequate time for review by staff and the Special Magistrate.
6. The Special Magistrate shall generally allow wide latitude in allowing persons to speak, reserving the right to limit testimony that is not relevant to the case under review or are repetitive of points previously made. The Special Magistrate may limit testimony.
7. During the public hearing all comments and discussions concerning the case shall be made at the podium/table, to the Special Magistrate, into the microphone, and visible to the TV/Video audience. All questions must be directed to the Special Magistrate and shall not be directed to staff by the Respondent or others in the audience, although testimony on the staff presentation may result in the Special Magistrate asking a question of staff to clarify an issue.
8. Discourtesy and disorderly or contemptuous conduct or personal attacks shall be considered a breach of privileges of the Special Magistrate and shall not be tolerated. The Special Magistrate may request the individual to leave the hearing and any testimony deemed discourteous, disorderly, or contemptuous or an unnecessary attack personal in nature by the Special Magistrate shall not be considered by the Special Magistrate in making a decision.
Imposition of Costs/Fines and Liens
1. In determining the amount of the fine, if any, the Special Magistrate shall consider the following factors: the gravity of the violation; any actions taken by the Respondent(s) to correct the violation; and any previous violations committed by the Respondent(s) pursuant to Florida Statutes 162.09 (2)(b)-(d).
2. If, after due notice and a hearing, the Special Magistrate finds a violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature, he may order the Respondent(s) to pay a one time fine in addition to daily fines and a separate hearing may not be necessary for issuance of the order. The amount of the one time fine shall be ordered by the Special Magistrate pursuant to Florida Statutes 162.09 (2) (d).
3. A certified copy of an order imposing a fine, or a fine plus repairs costs, may be recorded in the public records and thereafter shall constitute a lien against the land on which the violation exists (the subject property) and upon any other real or personal property owned by the Respondent(s).
1. An aggrieved party, including the Board of County Commissioners, may appeal a Final Order of the Special Magistrate to the Circuit Court. Such an appeal shall not be a hearing de novo but shall be limited to appellate review of the record created before the Special Magistrate. An appeal shall be filed within 30 days of the execution of the Order to be appealed. An appeal requires a record of the Special Magistrate hearing and for that purpose, the party appealing may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the hearing is made which record includes the testimony and evidence upon which the appeal is to be based.