Hurricane Irma Forces Courts, Law Classes to Close

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 06, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Courts and law classes are in recess in South Florida, as Hurricane Irma makes landfall in the Caribbean and turns toward the North American continent.

The hurricane, a Category 5 storm with winds reaching 185 miles per hour, is the second strongest Atlantic storm in recorded history. Hurricane Allen was the strongest, peaking at 190 miles per hour in 1980.

Government officials, including court personnel, urged people living in the storm's path to clear out on Wednesday. The following courts and law schools are affected:

Court Closures

State trial courts in Brevard, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Seminole, and St. Lucie counties will start closing Thursday, September 7. The Fourth District Court of Appeal will close that same day and has cancelled oral arguments for the week of September 11.

The Florida Supreme Court and all of its offices are open. The Supreme Court is posting updates on its website.

In the federal Southern District of Florida, the Sidney M. Aronovitz U.S. Courthouse in Key West, and the U.S. Probation Office there closed Wednesday. District and bankruptcy court operations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will close Thursday and Friday.

Most courts and affiliated offices are expected to reopen Monday, unless conditions change for the worse.

Law School Closure

The University of Miami and its law school have cancelled classes and advised students to leave South Florida no later than Thursday.

"Any on-campus students who do not evacuate may be required to relocate to an off-site University or government evacuation center that only serves as a refuge of last resort and has the most basic of accommodations," the university website said.

According to the ABA Journal, law schools at Stetson University and Nova Southeastern University are monitoring the hurricane for possible closures there.

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