Judge Profile

Maria Espinosa-Dennis

Judicial Experience:

  • Circuit Court Judge, 11th Judicial Circuit-Miami-Dade Circuit Court to Present

Other Professional Experience:

  • Attorney at Law, The Espinosa Law Firm, P.A.
  • Circuit Court Mediator, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County
  • Assistant State Attorney, Dade County State Attorney's Office
  • Associate Attorney, Law Offices of Norman K. Schwarz, P.A.

Biographical Data:

  • MARIA ESPINOSA DENNIS 73 West Flagler Street Room 412 Miami, Florida 33130 (305) 349-7144
    Areas of Practice or professional experience before becoming a Judge:
    Former Assistant State Attorney, Criminal Defense, Family law litigation, Real Estate, Certified Mediator in Civil & Family areas


  • J.D., University of Miami, School of Law, 1984
  • Bachelor Of Science, Criminal Justice, Florida International University, 1981

Admission to the Bar:

  • Florida State Bar

Professional Civic Activities/Honors/Awards:

  • Certified Mediator, American Arbitration Association

Part Rule:


    Would you take an active role in coordinating discovery and other matters at a case management conference noticed pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.200(a)? No


    a. When a dispute arises during a deposition, is it appropriate to call Chambers to seek an immediate ruling? No b. Do you consider the filing of a motion for a protective order with regard to a deposition as an automatic stay of the subject deposition, thus relieving the attorney or the witness from the obligation to attend? If No, what additional steps do you require for the deposition to be stayed? No, The matter needs to be immediately scheduled for hearing. c. Does your opinion on this depend upon whether the deposition was "short-noticed", i.e., noticed within an unreasonably short period of time before the deposition? No d. Do you allow emergency hearings for motions for protective orders where the time between the motion and the deposition is not sufficient for a nonemergency hearing? Yes

  • Disposition of Motions Without Hearing

    a. Are there any motions on which you would rule without the necessity of a hearing? Yes


    Do you have any procedures or preferences regarding any subject, including motion practice, with which you expect attorneys to comply?(E.g. submission of Orders with Motion; Motions must be filed within 5 days prior to setting hearing, expectation that courtesy copies of motions be submitted by email, etc.): Yes Motion Practice Open Motion Calendar, which is limited to motions which require five (5) minutes or less to argue before the Court. Attorneys must provide Five (5) days notice of scheduled hearing to opposition; provide Court, at the time of the scheduled hearing, with a copy of the motion/pleading which is at issue; provide the Court with the proposed Order at the hearing. Specially Set Motions? These are motions which require more that Five (5) minutes of time to argue or present to the Court. Attorneys should provide the Court with courtesy copies of the motions, any memorandums of law, case-law, responses filed, and any other supporting documents pertinent to the motion, at least two (2) weeks prior to the date of the scheduled hearing. Proposed orders should also be provided. Please indicate any attorney practices which you periodically observe and of which you disapprove (aka, "pet peeves")! (1) Lack of preparation for the scheduled hearing; (2) arguing case-law that one is not prepared to present to the Court; (3) attorneys arguing against each other during the course of the hearing; and (4) still arguing with the Court after ruling has been rendered.


    Is there anything else that you want attorneys or litigants to know before they appear before you? If Yes, please so describe: MEMORANDUM TO: ALL ATTORNEYS FROM: JUDGE MARIA ESPINOSA DENNIS RE: HEARING SCHEDULE DATE: APRIL 16. 2008 I. MOTION CALENDAR.'" OPEN CALENDAR": *TIME: 9:30 A.M-10:30 A.M. Limited to 5-minute motions *DATES: TUESDAYS & WEDNESDAYS of every week * Notice Requirement: Five (5) working days notice required to opposition. A copy of the motion is required at the time of the Hearing, and the court file, (if needed). *Length of Hearings: Five (5) minutes MAXIMUM *Parties can "walk-in" if they have a "team", a copy of the motion and the court file, (if needed). 2. SPECIAL SET MOTIONS/HEARINGS: *TIME: 9:30 A.M.-5:00 PM. (date & time is specially set with the Judicial Assistant once a copy of the motion is received by this office). *Dates: Each and every Monday AND one Two-Week period per month, *Notice Requirement: Two (2) weeks notice to opposition. *Length of Hearings: Up to 11/2 hours (Maximum); Motions or hearings exceeding 11/2 hours shall be scheduled on the non-jury trial week. *Courtesy copies of all motions, legal memorandums, case law and/or responses shall be provided to the Judge at least Two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled hearing, unless the matter has been scheduled on an emergency basis. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in the cancellation of the scheduled hea(s).

  • Motion Practice: All Hearings

    a. Do you prefer to receive memoranda in support of motions? No If before, how long before? If specially set hearing, then must be submitted at least 2 weeks before the scheduled hearing. If you receive a memorandum, do you expect to receive an opposing memorandum? Yes b. Do you prefer copies of significant cases? Yes If so, do you prefer they be highlighted? No c. How soon after the hearing should the order be submitted?Ideally, proposed orders should be submitted at the time of the hearing, but in no event later than 72 hours after the hearing, unless otherwise instructed by the court. d. Do you expect the attorney submitting the proposed order to advise you in the cover letter if the opposing attorney agrees that the proposal reflects the ruling? Yes If there is disagreement, do you expect a counter-proposed order from the other attorney? Yes

  • Motion Practice: Motion Calendars

    a. Days/ times: As of May 2008: Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 9:30 am - 11:30am b. Length of Motion Calendar Hearings: Open Calendar, so the length of the calendar will depend upon the amount of litigants/cases that show up. Limited to 5-minute motions. c. Under what circumstances, can cases be added to a filled motion calendar? Typically, any case can be added, walk-ins are allowed. d. What special procedures should be followed, if any? Moving party must complete a Memo of Disposition Sheet,(providing preliminary information), prior to arguing the motion. These sheets are provided by the judicial staff at the time of the motion calendar check-in. Litigants must have a copy of the motion/pleading at issue, ready to hand to the Judge prior to commencing the hearing. e. Do you allow hearings by conference call? Yes 1. Under what circumstances? When leave of court is sought prior to the scheduled hearing, by the way of written motion, as required by the Rules of Civil Procedure. 2. What procedure should be followed for telephone hearings? (1) Written motion seeking leave to appear telephonically, filed before the scheduled hearing; (2) Party appearing telephonically at the hearing, shall be responsible for delivering to the judge copies of motion, supporting documents, proposed order and court file (when applicable), the day before the scheduled hearing; and (3) Party appearing telephonically shall initiate the conference call by telephoning the judge's office at the time of the scheduled hearing. 3. If you advise the parties that you will have a hearing by phone, or announce a ruling by phone, do you allow any attorney to appear in person in your chambers for the hearing? Yes 4. If any or all parties appear by phone, do you allow a court reporter to be present in your chambers or courtroom?Yes 5. If any or all parties appear by phone, do you allow a court reporter to be present in one of the party's offices?No f. What is the name and telephone number of the motion calendar clerk for your division? Name Andrea Stephens Telephone No. g. If a motion calendar hearing is cancelled,reset or resolved by counsel, should counsel advise your office? No h. Should courtesy copies of pleadings and motions be forwarded to Chambers? No, Note: Exceptions: Courtesy copies of pleadings must be forwarded to Chambers for the Telephonic conferences/hearings, set forth in section 3 (e) (2)here-inabove, and for Specially Set (Motion) Calendars. i. What motions do you consider inappropriate for Motion Calendar? Any matters which will require more than five(5) minutes for presentation to and disposition of by the Court. Examples of inappropriate matters are generally Motions to Dismiss and Motions for Summary Judgment.


    a. Which motions are routinely heard only at specially set hearings? Motions that require more than five (5) minutes for presentation to and disposition of, by the Court. b. What is the procedure for allowing matters to be specially set? Provide the judicial assistant with (1) a copy of the motion and (2) a cover-letter requesting a specific amount of time for the hearing. The judicial assistant will then contact you with several dates and times, which will need to be cleared/approved by all parties concerned. Once all parties have agreed upon a date and time, same will be confirmed with the judicial assistant and a notice of hearing shall be prepared by the moving party. All parties shall provide the judge with a copy of the motion,supporting case-law, memorandums of law, and proposed orders, at least two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled hearing. c. Do you have a back up calendar for special appointment hearings to be set on short notice, i.e., if you have a cancellation? Yes, then please explain the applicable procedures: Provide the judicial assistant with copies of the pleadings/motions to be scheduled, along with a cover-letter requesting the specific amount of time needed for the hearing, and all contact numbers for all of the parties concerned. Parties must be willing to be placed on a minimum of 2-hour standby. The judicial assistant will contact the parties in the event of all cancellation. d. If counsel seek to re-set a specially set hearing, is court notice and approval necessary? Yes


    a. Do you review post trial motions to decide whether a hearing will be allowed? Yes b. If a case is settled, what procedure should be followed to advise your office? Our office should be advised of the settlement, both by telephone and in writing, as soon as possible, after the settlement occurs. c. When do you schedule motions to approve a minor settlement? During the motion calendar.


    a.What is your daily/weekly trial schedule? Two (2) weeks per month of jury trials and One (1) week per month of non-jury trials. b.Do you entertain motions in limine prior to trial? Yes c. How long prior to trial must motions in limine be filed?By the time of the calendar call for the trial docket. d. When do you want counsel to submit jury instructions and verdict forms? Specific instructions will be provided by the judicial assistant to the attorneys, after the calendar call. (Usually the items are submitted 2 to 3 days prior to the commencement of trial.) e. Is it helpful to have jury instructions submitted in electronic form? If yes, what form and/or software program do you prefer? Yes, either by e-mail or in DVD, (in Word format). f. Do you allow individual exhibit books for jurors? No g. What facilities do you have available in your courtroom or in the courthouse for use by attorneys at trial? Check all that apply: a.X-ray viewer Yes b Elmo No c.Television Yes d.VCR Yes e.DVD player Yes f. Other h. What reasons in your view would justify granting a continuance? This varies on a case by case basis. Generally, any bona-fide reason which would not constitute an abuse of the process. Pre-planned vacations,illnesses, emergencies, and discovery matters, (if it is demonstrated that the movant has acted diligently and brought the matter to the Court's attention in advance of the trial date), are just some examples. Agreed upon requests for continuances are also generally acceptable. i. What is your policy on granting a continuance? There is no set policy for granting or denying continuances of trials. Every case is addressed on a case by case basis. Generally, motions for continuance must be scheduled for hearing prior to the scheduled calendar call of the trial docket. And, what is your policy for either rolling the case over or removing it from the trial docket? Cases that are not reached for trial on a given trial docket will be rolled over to the very next available trial docket, unless the parties request otherwise. Cases are not removed from the trial docket unless a motion has been filed in this regard. Depending upon the age of the case, the Court may decide to monitor the case, and require the scheduling of status conferences in the case every thirty (30) days. Does the case need to be re-noticed or does it depend on the reason for the continuance? Generally, the case will have to be re-noticed for trial. j. When a case on the trial calendar is not reached because of the court's schedule, what is your practice and procedure for rolling the case over? Cases that are not reached for trial on a given trial docket will be rolled over to the very next available trial docket, unless the parties request otherwise. k. Do you generally try the oldest case first? Yes (However, this is not always the case.) l. Do you specially set cases for trial? Yes If Yes, based on what criteria? Cases involving out-of-state or out-of-country witnesses, elderly or infirmed parties, young witnesses or parties, and cases meeting any other criteria for specially set or expedited trials, pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure. m. Jury Selection: 1. Describe the extent of the involvement by the Court as well as any special procedures you use: The Court uses juror questionnaires and copies are provided to the attorneys 2. Are time limitations imposed on the parties? If Yes, how long? No 3.Describe any special procedures that you observe for the exercise of challenges? None 4. Are there any practices you have observed recurrently by attorney during voir dire of which you disapprove? If Yes, which ones? No n. Opening statement/closing argument 1.What rules do you apply when attorneys seek to use demonstrative aids during opening or closing argument Attorneys need to advise the Court in advance, of their intention to use these types of aids. Jurors will be read the instruction on demonstrative/visual aids beforehand. 2. While recognizing that each case is unique, do you impose time constraints for: a. Opening? No b. Closing? No 3. If the type of case affects the amount of time allowed, please indicate the time routinely allowed for opening/closing in each of the following: Not Applicable. I do not impose a time limitation. o. In non-jury cases, do you routinely impose time limits on opening or closing arguments? If Yes, what are the limits? No p. Do you have any preferences or protocols regarding bench trials that you would like attorneys to know about? If Yes, what are they? No q. Are there any standing orders, notices,or forms regarding scheduling, discovery, trial, or other matters that you regularly use or about which you would like to advise the members of the bar? If Yes,could you please provide a copy with your response to this questionnaire? Yes
  • UCD Info Day & Time
    Wed. 9:30AM
  • Motions Day & Time
    Wed. 9:30AM


  • Ivan Nahmias, Bailiff