Amendments to Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure Took Effect January 1, 2019

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by Robin Bresky, Esq.;  Randall Burks, Esq. and Jeremy Dicker, Esq.

Effective January 1, 2019, the Florida Supreme Court made substantial amendments to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure and other rules of court, including the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. It is important to review the revisions in full, but a few of the changes are summarized below.

In Case No. SC17-882 (tinyurl.com/SC17-882), rules 2.514 and 2.516 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration were amended to eliminate the additional five days to respond following the service of a document by e-mail. Under amended rule 2.514(b), five days are added only where service is made by postal mail.

To compensate for the loss of the five additional days to respond to a document served by e-mail, the Court amended many of the appellate rules relating to deadlines, including: the time for service of the answer, reply, and cross-reply briefs under rule 9.210(f) increased from 20 to 30 days (except for responsive briefs where the court has authorized more than one initial or answer brief); responses to motions under rule 9.300(a) increased from 10 to 15 days; oral argument requests under rule 9.320 increased from 10 to 15 days after the last brief is due to be served in appeals or the reply is due to be served in original proceedings; the time for a notice of cross-appeal increased from 10 to 15 days from the filing of the notice of appeal under rule 9.110(g), rule 9.130(g), and rule 9.140(b)(4); and the respondent’s brief on jurisdiction in the Florida Supreme Court under rule 9.120(d) increased from 20 to 30 days after service of the petitioner’s jurisdictional brief.

The Court also changed the computation of time where the period of time is stated in days. SeeFla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.514(a)(1)(A). Time frames will be calculated beginning from the next day that is not a weekend or legal holiday following the event that triggers the time frame.

In Case No. SC17-152 (tinyurl.com/SC17-152), rule 9.020 was amended to define “conformed copy” as a “true and accurate copy.”

Rule 9.130(a)(3) was amended to authorize appeals from two new categories of nonfinal orders: (1) appeals of nonfinal orders that determine, as a matter of law, that a settlement agreement is unenforceable, is set aside, or never existed; and (2) appeals from nonfinal orders that grant or deny a motion to disqualify counsel.

Rule 9.110(k) was amended to clarify that the scope of review of a partial final judgment may include any ruling occurring before filing of the notice of appeal so long as such ruling is directly related to an aspect of the partial final judgment under review.

Rule 9.210, has been amended to provide an attorney representing more than one party in an appeal may file only one initial or answer brief (and one reply brief if authorized) that includes arguments as to all of the parties the attorney represents in the appeal. A single party responding to multiple briefs, or a single party represented by multiple attorneys, is similarly limited to one initial or answer brief (and one reply brief if authorized).

Rule 9.330 was amended to broaden the grounds upon which a party may seek a written opinion following the issuance of a per curiam affirmance (PCA). Such request must state that the party believes that a written opinion would provide: (1) a legitimate basis for Florida Supreme Court review; (2) an explanation for an apparent deviation from prior precedent; or (3) guidance to the parties or lower tribunal when (a) the same issue is also present in other cases pending before the court or another district court, (b) the issue is expected to recur in future cases, (c) there are conflicting decisions from lower tribunals, (d) the issue is one of first impression, or (e) the issue arises in a case where the court has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction.

Rule 9.330, which governs motions for rehearing, clarification, certification, or a written opinion, now states that all motions under the rule must be combined in a single document; and the rule applies only to orders or decisions that adjudicate, resolve, or otherwise dispose of an appeal, original proceeding, or motion for appellate attorneys’ fees (but appellate courts still have inherent authority to reconsider nonfinal appellate orders and decisions).

Rule 9.420(c) was amended to authorize parties to serve the initial document in an appeal electronically pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516(b) but petitions invoking the original jurisdiction of the court under rule 9.030(a)(3), (b)(3), or (c)(3) must still be served both by e-mail and U.S. Mail.

In Case No. SC17-999 (tinyurl.com/SC17-999), the Florida Supreme Court amended the uniform citation system in rule 9.800. Among other changes, the rule now allows for a citation to Westlaw or Lexis along with a slip opinion cite when a new case is not available in Florida Law Weekly.