Fourth DCA Allows Stipulated Enlargements of Time

Probably the most common motion filed in the Florida intermediate appellate courts are motions for enlargements of time to serve briefs. Such motions are routinely granted, but take up an enormous amount of judicial resources that could better be used deciding something substantive. The Fourth District Court of Appeal has solved this problem by issuing an administrative order [.pdf] allowing parties to stipulate to an enlargement. Effective February 1, 2012, the parties need only follow the language of the order to file an agreed stipulation to receive an enlargement of up to 120 days for an initial or answer brief, or 60 days for a reply brief.

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Final Agency Action

Got your Road to Independence scholarship terminated? The First DCA says that’s not a final agency action subject to review. In Wade v Florida Department of Children and Families, ___ So.3d ___, No. 1D10-2502 (FEb. 7, 2011), the Court sua sponte determined that it had no jurisdiction over the appeal.

Interestingly, the Agency thought it was a final appealable order, and told the appellant so. The appellant first received a letter terminating her scholarship, and the letter stated that she had the right to request a “fair hearing.” The appellant participated in an evidentiary hearing before a hearing officer, who affirmed the denial of the scholarship. The affirmance was denominated a “final order” and included “notice of right to appeal” language directing the apellant to file a notice of appeal with the DCA if she wished to challenge the “final order.”

After seeking additional briefing in the jurisdictional issue from the parties, the Court concluded that the “final order” was not, in fact, a final order, due to the restrictions of the statute that created the scholarship program. Relying on section 409.1451(5)(e)2., Fla. Stat., the Court explained that the scholarship program is required to provide for “an appeal to the Secretary of Children and Family Services,” and the implimenting regulations do not transform the hearing process employed here into the required appeal to the Secretary.

Moving on Up

The First DCA this weekend will make its big move to its new (if controversial) digs. As a result, the Court will be closed tomorrow, December 17th. Admin Order. 10-6 [.pdf]. After what will no doubt be a crazy weekend for essential staff, the Court will reopen for business on Monday morning at its new location: 2000 Drayton Drive
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0950. [.pdf notice]. Be sure to update your mailings accordingly. And hey, if you have a brief due on December 17 in the First DCA, you arguably just got yourself an extra day to serve it. Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.420 (f)(15) states that in calculating due dates, “any other day when the clerk’s office is closed” is considered a holiday.