Appellate courts serve an important function in our legal justice system. Not only do they hear appeals from trial courts and administrative agencies, but they also have original jurisdiction in certain cases. Having “jurisdiction” means having the power to make legal decisions. When a court has appellate jurisdiction, it has the power to decide whether or not a lower court or agency came to the right conclusion. Original jurisdiction is the power to hear a case for the first time.
A writ is a formal written order by a court. Florida law grants the state’s appellate courts (which include the Florida Supreme Court and five intermediate appellate courts called the District Courts of Appeal) original jurisdiction to issue extraordinary writs. One common example is the writ of habeas corpus.
Habeas corpus literally means, “you have the body.” When a prisoner petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, he is asking the court to rule on the validity of his detention. In one Florida case, Stephens v. State, the appellant argued that his life sentence was unfair because the trial judge falsely believed that his conviction mandated a life sentence. The Second District Court of Appeal agreed that the appellant should be afforded the opportunity to have his sentence reconsidered.
There are additional types of extraordinary writs that appellate courts may issue:
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Each writ carries its own procedural requirements, as set forth in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The extraordinary nature of these writs – their limited reach and exacting procedural rules – requires the attention of an experienced appellate attorney. Bresky Law only handles appeals, appellate law and litigation support. Our thorough knowledge of the appellate process has no equal in South Florida. Your inquiries are welcome. Contact us today at 561-994-6273.