By Randall Burks
A new client recently approached Bresky Law to represent him in an appeal after filing the notice of appeal on his own, pro se. When our attorneys reviewed the appellate court’s docket, they discovered that the court had dismissed the appeal several weeks earlier. The order of dismissal stated: “Upon the Court’s own motion, it is ordered that this appeal is dismissed for failure to comply with this Court’s orders … and with the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.”
The appellant was not aware of the dismissal. Nor was he aware of the two appellate court orders that had directed him to pay a filing fee and submit the trial court’s order from which he had appealed. The two appellate court orders stated that the appeal could be dismissed for noncompliance with the rules of appellate procedure if the payment and trial court order were not submitted within 10 days. Those orders, however, were sent to an address where the appellant was not living at the time; so he was not aware of the requirements or the deadline.
Appellate lawyers at Bresky Law filed a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal and for reinstatement of the appeal. The motion asked the appellate court to reinstate the appeal, set a briefing schedule, and allow the appellant five days to remit the filing fee.
Their goal was to be able to represent the appellant in the appeal so they can seek reversal of the trial court’s order. Their motion for reinstatement pointed out that the appellant had properly invoked the court’s jurisdiction with a timely notice of appeal and that he was representing himself at the time and was not aware of the requirements and deadlines for submitting the filing fee and the trial court’s order.
The motion cited to several appellate opinions holding that appellate courts have the discretion to reinstate a dismissed appeal for good cause. The attorneys argued that good cause existed in this case. The motion also pointed out the right of access to the courts under the Florida Constitution, and it emphasized Florida’s strong public policy favoring resolution of appeals on the merits rather than on technicalities. This public policy is especially applicable in cases involving the best interests of a minor child, as this case does.
The opposing party’s attorney filed a response strongly opposing the request for reinstatement, arguing that good cause had not been shown. A short time later, however, Bresky Law was pleased to receive an order from the appellate court granting the motion for reinstatement, requiring payment of the filing fee within five days, and setting a briefing schedule. This favorable result will allow the firm to represent the client in the appeal and obtain a decision on the merits.