The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday sent to a lower court a request to at least temporarily block Lee County judges from holding videoconference hearings in cases about the involuntary commitment of mentally ill people.
A panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in September rejected a challenge by public defenders to judges holding remote hearings in so-called "Baker Act" cases.
Public defenders, who say Lee County judges should be required to hold the hearings in person, then appealed to the Supreme Court. Justices scheduled arguments for Feb. 7 in the dispute.
But in filings this week, public defenders asked the Supreme Court to issue a stay that would at least temporarily block the videoconference hearings until the dispute is resolved.
The Supreme Court, however, issued an order Thursday that sent the request for a stay to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court said a rule requires that a "party seeking to stay a final order or non-final order pending review shall file a motion in the lower tribunal."