Special Magistrate Hearing Conduct
Special Magistrate Administrative Division
Mailing Address Only
315 Court Street
Clearwater, Florida 33756
- Upon request of the code inspector or at such other times as may be necessary, a hearing before the special magistrate may be convened. Minutes shall be kept of all code enforcement hearings, and all hearings shall be open to the public. The special magistrate administrative division shall provide all clerical and administrative support reasonably necessary to conduct these hearings.
- Where proper notice of the hearing has been provided to the alleged violator pursuant to section 2-628, a hearing may proceed even in the absence of the alleged violator.
- At such hearing, the burden of proof shall be upon the code enforcement division to show by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation exists, or in the case of a repeat violation, existed on the date that the code inspector gave notice to the violator of a repeat violation pursuant to subsection 2- 622(3).
- All testimony shall be under oath and shall be recorded. The formal rules of evidence shall not apply but fundamental due process shall be observed and shall govern the proceedings. Upon determination of the special magistrate, irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded, but all other evidence of a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs shall be admissible, whether or not such evidence would be admissible in a trial in the courts of Florida. Any part of the evidence may be received in written form.
- The special magistrate may inquire of or question any witness present at the hearing. The alleged violator (hereinafter also referred to as respondent), respondent’s attorney, code enforcement officers, or an attorney representing the division shall be permitted to inquire of or question any witness present at the hearing. The special magistrate may consider testimony presented by code enforcement officers, the respondent or any other witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the special magistrate shall render his or her decision (order) based on evidence entered into the record. The decision shall then be transmitted to the respondent in the form of a written order including findings of fact, and conclusions of law consistent with the record. The order shall be transmitted by mail to the respondent within ten days after the hearing. The order may include a notice that it must be complied with by a specified date and that a fine and costs may be imposed and, under the circumstances set forth in subsection 2-622(3), the cost of repairs or other corrective action may be included along with the fine if the order is not complied with by said date. A certified copy of such order may be recorded in the public records of Pinellas County and shall constitute notice to any subsequent purchasers, successors in interest, or assigns if the violation concerns real property, and the findings therein shall be binding upon the violator and, if the violation concerns real property, any subsequent purchasers, successors in interest, or assigns. If an order is recorded in the public records pursuant to this paragraph and the order is complied with by the date specified in the order, the special magistrate shall issue an order acknowledging compliance that shall be recorded in the public records. A hearing is not required to issue such an order acknowledging compliance.
- If Pinellas County prevails in prosecuting a case before the special magistrate, it shall be entitled to recover all costs incurred. Whether and to what extent such costs are imposed shall be within the discretion of the special magistrate but shall not exceed the actual costs incurred.