Florida Courts Receive Much-Needed Funds

The Florida court system received some much-needed additional funding to fix pay disparities between its employees and the private sector, renovate or replace older court buildings for the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth District Courts, and add judgeships to the busy Second and Fifth District Courts of Appeals in the state budget approved May 2nd. As more fully reported in The Florida Bar Journal, the $8.1 million allocation for pay will be used for retention and recruitment to equalize pay scales so that the court system doesn’t lose competent workers to higher-paying private sector jobs.

The Fourth District received $7.1 million to begin construction to build a new courthouse, to replace their mold-infested building, while the First, Second and Fifth Districts will each receive funds toward renovating their older buildings.

Most importantly, Second District will get two new seats, and the Fifth will get one additional judge.

The Proof is in the Record, not the Pudding

The Fourth District Court of Appeal today gives us a humorous reminder of the importance of making a proper record before the trial court, and ensuring that record is before the appellate court. In this mortgage foreclosure action, the trial court granted involuntary dismissal because the Bank moved a copy of the Original Note, rather than the note itself, into evidence. On appeal, the Bank argued that the trial court erred because the original note was eventually surrendered, but the Court of Appeal correctly dismissed this argument, because it relied on evidence outside of the record:

Appellant maintains that it surrendered the note in a “package” to the clerk following the trial and requests this court to make the “logical and equitable” presumption that the original note was in the “package” surrendered to the court. However, this court does not make “logical and equitable” leaps of faith, as it cannot (and should not) make any such determination unsupported by the record before it. Appellant further contends that the trial court’s decision should be reversed because “the proof was in the pudding.” This may be true as, for all we know, the original promissory note was in that pudding. Nonetheless, it was not admitted into evidence at trial (although a copy of the note was moved into the record) and there is no indication that the original note has been previously filed with the court or the court clerk.

If you are ever tempted to make arguments based on items outside the record, don’t do it. I will henceforth call this the “pudding rule.”

The case is Deutsche Bank v. Huber, No. 4D12-3696 (April 23, 2014) [.pdf].

Is Good Friday a Court Holiday? It Depends

Today an attorney asked me to confirm whether his deadline was really today under the rules, or if the deadline rolled to Monday. And I told him what I am telling you: it depends! What court are you in? As I’ve explained before, Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 9.420 clarifies what constitutes a legal holiday, and defines holidays as:

(A) the day set aside by section 110.117, Florida Statutes, for observing New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day; and
(B) any day observed as a holiday by the clerk’s office or as designated by the chief judge.

Good Friday is not on the enumerated list. But it happens to be observed as a holiday by many, if not most, of the courts in this state, including the First DCA (Admin. Order 13-1, July 9, 2013 [.pdf]), Second DCA, Third DCA, Fourth DCA, Fifth DCA, and Florida Supreme Court [.pdf]. So if you have an appellate deadline today, Happy Easter! It’s due Monday instead. And if your deadline is in the trial court, I recommend checking the clerk’s website and putting a copy of the order in your records in case timeliness becomes an issue down the road on appeal.