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Almost Every Florida Appellate Rule Changes on New Years’ Day 2019

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Get your pencils ready–your filings and your calendar will need some adjustment!

The Florida Supreme Court has substantially amended the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, changing language in nearly every rule in the book along with related rules from the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.  It accomplished this through issuing three separate opinions: SC17-152 [.pdf]; SC17-882 [.pdf], and SC17-999 [.pdf].  The amendments change, well, almost everything!

The amendments become effective on January 1, 2019.

All the amendments become effective on January 1, 2019, but at two different times: SC17-152 and SC17-999 go into effect at 12:01 a.m., while SC17-882 goes into effect as of 12:02 a.m.

The biggest trap for everyone?  The time periods and mailing issues.

We’ll talk about this again in-depth in the near future, but the elimination of mailing days for every electronically-served document in Florida courts, and then the lengthening of many appellate deadlines to compensate, will require everyone’s calendaring procedures to change significantly. Spoiler alert — in most instances you will actually have more time under the new rules than you did under the old rules.

This post, Part I of a multi-part series, provides a brief summary of every substantive amendment organized by rule.  Following posts will investigate and elaborate on different aspects of the numerous changes.

Summary of appellate-related rule changes (with links)

Before we dive into the analysis though, let’s just get the big picture. Here’s our summary of the changes, with links for your review.
*All links to Supreme Court opinions are to the .pdfs of those opinions.

Rule

Change

Source

Fla. R. Jud. Admin 2.514 [.pdf, entire rule set]

  • When a period is stated in days or a longer unit of time, “begin counting from the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.”
  • 5 days added for only traditional mailing.  No more days for
    electronic service.

SC17-882, p. 9

Fla. R. Jud. Admin 2.516 [.pdf, entire rule set]

  • E-Mail service no longer treated as mail service for computation of time.

SC17-882, p. 10

Fla. R. App. P. 9.010

  • Added applicability of Fla. R. Jud. Admin (formerly in 9.020(h)).

SC17-152, p. 22

Fla. R. App. P. 9.020

  • Removes section regarding Fla. R. Jud. Admin.
  • Reorganizes subsection on motions tolling rendition (without substantive change).
  • Defines “conformed copy.”
  • Other format changes, renumbering of subsections.

SC17-152, pp. 22-24

Fla. R. App. P. 9.030

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 25-27

Fla. R. App. P. 9.040

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 27-28

Fla. R. App. P. 9.100

  • Non-substantive changes only.
  • A reply is due within 30 days of the response.

SC17-152 pp. 29-30

SC17-882, p. 16

Fla. R. App. P. 9.110

  • Clarifies that scope of review in partial final judgments limited to any matter or ruling prior to filing of notice that is directly related to the aspect of the
    judgment under review.
  • Notice of cross-appeal must be served “within 15 days of service of the appellant’s timely filed notice of appeal or within the time prescribed for filing a notice of appeal, whichever is later.”

SC17-152, pp. 30-32

SC17-882, pp. 16-17

Fla. R. App. P. 9.120

  • Omits requirement of appendix for initial brief on the merits in discretionary review over district court decisions.
  • Respondent’s brief on jurisdiction must be served within 30 days of service of petitioner’s brief.

SC17-152, pp. 32-33

SC17-882, p. 17

Fla. R. App. P. 9.125

  • Omits specific format for signature block on certification in form for pass-through appeals to supreme court.

SC17-152, pp. 33-34

Fla. R. App. P. 9.130

  • Adds two new categories to the list of nonfinal appealable orders: “that, as a matter of law, a settlement agreement is unenforceable, is set aside, or never existed;” and “grant or deny a motion to disqualify counsel.”
  • Notice of cross-appeal must be served “within 15 days of service of the appellant’s timely filed notice of appeal or within the time prescribed for filing a notice of appeal, whichever is later.”

SC17-152, pp. 35-36

SC17-882, p. 18

Fla. R. App. P. 9.140

  • Attorney of record for appellant must serve designations to be served on the court reporter, and service must occur before attorney of record will be allowed to withdraw from representation on appeal.
  • Modifies the return of the record rule to require return of only non-electronically filed parts of the record after final disposition of the appeal.
  • When a 3.800(b)(2) motion is filed, the clerk must supplement the appellate record with the motion, any response, any resulting order, and any motion for rehearing, response, and order on the motion. The supplement must be filed within 20 days after filing of the order disposing of the motion.  If no order is filed within 60 days, the 20 days runs from the end of the 60-day period and requires a statement in the supplement that no order was timely filed.  If a motion for rehearing is filed, the clerk must transmit the supplement within 5 days of the order disposing of the rehearing. If no order issues within 40 days, the 5-day period runs from the end of the 40-day period, and the supplement must include a statement that no order was timely filed.
  • “A defendant may cross-appeal by serving a notice within 15 days of service of the state’s notice or service of an order on a motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(b)(2).”
  • “[I]n an appeal by the state under rule 9.140(c)(1)(K), the state’s notice of cross-appeal shall be filed within 15 days of service of defendant’s notice or service
    of an order on a motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure
    3.800(b)(2).”

SC17-152, pp. 38-39

SC17-882, p. 19

Fla. R. App. P. 9.141

  • Requires the clerk to index, paginate, and send to parties the record on collateral and postconviction cases.
  • Allows for directions to clerk within 10 days of notice of appeal.
  • A reply may be served within 30 days after service of the response.

SC17-152, pp. 42-43

SC17-882, p. 20

Fla. R. App. P. 9.142

  • Non-substantive changes.
  • The briefing schedule allows that the state has 50 days from the date the defendant’s brief is served, and the defendant has 40 days from the date the state’s brief is served.
  • In petitions seeking review of nonfinal orders in death penalty postconviction proceedings, the petitioner may serve a reply within 30 days of the State’s response.

SC17-152, pp. 44-46

SC17-882, pp. 20-21

Fla. R. App. P. 9.145

  • Non-substantive changes
    only.

SC17-152, pp. 47-48

Fla. R. App. P. 9.146

  • In juvenile dependency, TPR, and cases involving families and children in need of services, mandates that review of trial court orders on motions seeking a stay pending appeal shall be by motion.
  • Adds detail for briefing schedule in cases in which more than 1 initial or answer brief is authorized.
  • When an order issues allowing counsel to withdraw, counsel must within 5 days certify that counsel has forwarded the record and transcripts to the parent or is
    unable to do so after making diligent efforts to find the parent.
  • The initial brief shall be served within 30 days of service of the record or index.  The answer brief shall be served within 30 days of the initial brief. The reply brief shall be served within 15 days of the answer brief.

SC17-152, pp. 48-50

SC17-882, p. 22

Fla. R. App. P. 9.150

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 50

Fla. R. App. P. 9.160

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 50-51

Fla. R. App. P. 9.170

  • A party choosing the “alternative appendix” method must serve a copy of the direction to the appellate court as well as the lower tribunal.
  • If another party directs the preparation of record, that direction must be served on the appellate court when served on the lower tribunal.

SC17-152, pp. 51-52

Fla. R. App. P. 9.180

  • Requires a judge of compensation claims to select an approved court reporter and transcriptionist.
  • Deposit of estimated costs due within 20 days of service of notice of estimated costs.
  • Written objections to selected court reporter or transcript due within 20 days of service of notice of selection.
  • Verified petition to be relieved of costs must be filed within 20 days after service of the notice of estimated costs.
  • Lower tribunal may enter an order on the merits of a petition to be relieved of costs without an objection filed after 30 days following the service of the petition.

SC17-152, pp. 53-57

SC17-882, pp. 23-24

Fla. R. App. P. 9.190

  • Removes reference to section 120.56 (rule challenges) in procedures for proceedings involving disputed issue of fact.
  • Creates new subsection for procedures for appeal from rule challenge proceedings under section 120.56.

SC17-152, pp. 57-61

Fla. R. App. P. 9.200

  • Requires service of designations to court reporter upon the court reporter or
    transcriptionist.
  • Reorganizes requirements of court reporter upon receipt of designation, moves to different subsection.
  • Moves requirements for organization of transcripts in the record to its own subsection.
  • Objections or amendments to proposed statement of evidence or proceedings must be served within 15 days of service of the proposed statement.
  • The cross-appellee has 15 days to direct the clerk to include additional documents, exhibits, or transcripts from the service of the cross-directions.

SC17-152, pp. 61-63

SC17-882, p. 25

Fla. R. App. P. 9.210

  • Clarifies that briefs filed in electronic version need not be also filed in paper.
  • Cover sheet of brief now requires email address of attorney filing the brief.
  • Formalizes the “one attorney, one brief” rule.
  • If more than one initial or answer brief is filed, the responsive brief is due to be served within 20 days after the last prior brief.  If the last brief is never served, the time runs from the date on which it was due to be served.
  • “Unless otherwise required shall be served within 30 days after service of the initial brief; the reply brief, if any shall be served within 30 days after service of the answer brief; and the cross-reply brief, if any, shall be served within 30 days thereafter.”

SC17-152, pp. 64-65

SC17-882, pp. 25-26

Fla. R. App. P. 9.225

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 66

Fla. R. App. P. 9.310

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 66

Fla. R. App. P. 9.320

  • Request for oral argument due 15 days after the last brief (or the reply in a petition proceeding) is due to be served.

SC17-882, pp. 26-27

Fla. R. App. P. 9.330

  • Adds “written opinion” to the title of the rehearing and clarification rule.
  • Details requirements for a motion for certification.
  • Details and outlines requirements for a motion for written opinion.
  • Eliminates the requirement for a certification for a motion for a written opinion.
  • “All motions filed under this rule with respect to a particular order or decision must be combined in a single document.”
  • Clarifies that rule only applies to orders that resolve appeals, original proceedings, or motions for appellate proceedings.  Does not limit inherent authority to reconsider nonfinal appellate orders.
  • “A response may be served within 15 days of service of the motion.”
  • In bond validation proceedings, a “reply may be served within 10 days of service of the motion.”

SC17-152, pp. 66-69

SC17-882, p. 27

Fla. R. App. P. 9.331

  • Court will now notify parties once it decides to determine a proceeding en
    banc.
  • Signature block under required statement for rehearing en banc omitted.
  • “A response may be served within 15 days of service of the motion.”

SC17-152, pp. 69-70

SC17-882, p. 28

Fla. R. App. P. 9.350

  • In a 9.120 proceeding, a notice of voluntary dismissal does not become effective until the later of 10 days following service of the notice to invoke discretionary
    jurisdiction or 10 days after the time prescribed by rule 9.120(b)
  • In a 9.120 proceeding, a notice of voluntary dismissal does not become effective until the later of 15 days following service of the notice to invoke discretionary
    jurisdiction or 10 days after the time prescribed by rule 9.120(b).

SC17-152, pp. 71-72

SC17-882, p. 28

Fla. R. App. P. 9.360

  • Clarifies that joinder is only realignment of existing parties to appeal; it does not allow addition of new parties parties.  Rephrases procedures for joinder as seeking realignment from appellee or respondent to appellant or petitioner.
  • The body of the notice shall reflect a new proposed caption.  Clerk will change the caption upon receipt of notice and payment of fee.

SC17-152, pp. 72-73

Fla. R. App. P. 9.370

  • Leave of court is required to serve an amicus brief in regards to rehearing, rehearing en banc, or certification to the supreme court.
  • Notice of joinder must be served within 15 days of the notice of appeal or petition.

SC17-152, pp. 72-73

SC17-882, p. 290

Fla. R. App. P. 9.380

  • NEW RULE – Notices of related case or issue are now required to be filed.  No argument allowed.

SC17-152, p. 74

Fla. R. App. P. 9.400

  • Adds time limits for filing a motion for fees in discretionary proceedings under rules 9.030(a)(2)(A) and 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v).
    • 9.030(a)(2)(A) – no later than time for serving the respondent’s brief on jurisdiction, or if jurisdiction is accepted, the time for serving the reply brief.
    • 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v) – no later than 5 days after filing of the notice, or if jurisdiction is accepted, the time for serving the reply brief.

SC17-152, pp. 74-75

Fla. R. App. P. 9.410

  • Omits signature requirement following the certification of service.
  • Initial service of the motion must be no later than the time for serving a permitted response to the challenged document or, if no response is permitted, within 20 days after the service of the challenged document or the presentation of argument at oral argument.
  • Respondent has 15 days from final service of a motion to serve response.

SC17-152, pp. 74-76

SC17-882, p. 30

Fla. R. App. P. 9.420

  • Clarifies that service of petitions invoking original jurisdiction shall be by both e-mail and paper format.

SC17-152, pp. 77-78

Fla. R. App. P. 9.430

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 78-79

Fla. R. App. P. 9.500

  • Clarifies governing provision of Florida Constitution, requires court to allow interested persons to be heard once request is determined to be within the purview of the applicable provision.
  • The justices must file their opinions not less than 10 days from date of request unless delay would cause public injury.
  • The governor shall be advised in writing.

SC17-152, pp. 79-80

Fla. R. App. P. 9.510

  • Procedures for advisory opinions to attorney general modified.
  • Requires justices to render their opinions no later than April 1 of the year in which an initiative is to be submitted to the voters pursuant to article XI, section 5 of the Florida Constitution.

SC17-152, pp. 80-81

Fla. R. App. P. 9.700

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 81

Fla. R. App. P. 9.710

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 81-82

Fla. R. App. P. 9.720

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 82-83

Fla. R. App. P. 9.800

  • Numerous amendments to the citation rule.

SC17-999

These rule changes follow on the heels of last year’s amendments to the appendix rules and some other substantive amendments.  At this point, almost every appellate rule has been changed in the last year, so best practice would require looking up every rule and not relying on memory.

Stay tuned for more analysis.

We’ll go further in-depth into the time changes, the newly-appealable non-final orders, and other facets of these rule changes in future blog posts.  Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right to get up-to-date news and analysis on these topics and other news and events as they relate to appellate practice in Florida.

 

 

Pleading and the Many Faces of Waiver

A drawing of a man running with a football on the cover of Colliers Magazine 1901


Don’t drop the ball
on pleading and waiver issues!

Image courtesy The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1890 – 1907.


We won! Today in Derouin v. Universal American Mortgage Company, LLC, Case No. 2D17-1002 (Fla. 2d DCA August 22, 2018)(.pdf), we earned a total victory for our clients the Derouins, reversing the foreclosure judgment entered against them after trial and ordering entry of an involuntary dismissal of the claims against them.

Beyond the wonderful result for our clients, the 15-page opinion is chock full of great appellate nuggets that have implications for all trial lawyers and their clients on issues of pleading requirements, waiver, trial by consent, and the right of a client to direct communication through his or her attorney. Here’s a breakdown of the take away lessons.

Pleading and Avoiding Conditions Precedent

Like many contracts, the mortgage in this case contained notice provisions that create a condition precedent to suit — that is, the party seeking to enforce the contract must first do some act before filing suit in order to maintain suit. Here, that condition precedent was compliance with a pre-suit “face-to-face” meeting requirement imposed by Federal law on certain kinds of mortgages and incorporated by reference into the mortgage. Generally, a plaintiff is permitted to allege generally in the complaint that “all conditions to suit have been met or waived.” The burden is then on the defendant to specifically deny that general allegation. Some cases on this issue send a mixed message as to whether failing to specifically deny the allegation, but pleading the same issue in your defenses, or making a specific denial but not also pleading as an affirmative defense, is sufficient to make compliance with conditions precedent an issue at trial. The Court here discussed the unsettled law and decided it didn’t need to make a definitive holding on this issue, since the Derouins had done both. Still, the Court placed the burden on plaintiff to prove it complied with the conditions precedent, and then found that plaintiff had not made that proof.

Practice Tip: Always deny conditions precedent with specificity in the answer and, in an abundance of caution, also plead failure to comply as a defense. Maintain it is the plaintiff’s burden, and argue as such at the close of plaintiff’s case.

Pleading Avoidances in a Reply

The plaintiff’s argued that the Derouins waived their objection to compliance with the face-to-face counseling condition precedent for two reasons we’ll discuss in detail in the next section. But aside from the merits of the waiver argument, the appeal court concluded that “Because Universal failed to address the waiver issue by reply to an affirmative defense, the trial court could not award Universal relief on such a basis.”

Practice Tip: Remember to plead any “defense to a defense,” whether legal or factual, as an avoidance in a reply. You will waive your waiver arguments (or other avoidances) if you do not plead them.

Trial by Consent

Even though the Bank failed to plead waiver, it argued that the issue of waiver was tried by consent, citing Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(b). A party tries an issue by consent when it fails to object to the admission of evidence supporting the un-pleaded argument. The Court found that evidence that came in was relevant to other issues in the case, and so its admission without objection was not a waiver. The Court also noted that the Derouin’s counsel expressly stated in opening argument that the Bank never raised any excuse for non-compliance in its pleadings. The Derouins also expressly made the argument in a written post-trial memoranda ordered by the trial court. The Court therefore rejected the notion that the issue had been tried by consent.

Practice Tip: Mention in your opening statement that you object to trying issues by consent. And if not relevant to your defenses, object to testimony coming in to support any issues outside of the pleadings. The proper objection is to relevance, and if you can, also state “outside the scope of the pleadings.” Bring the argument home during oral or written closing arguments.

Waiver

The trial court found that the Derouins had waived their right to face-to-face counseling in two ways. First, the trial court found that Mrs. Derouin advising someone who called to discuss the issue “that I contacted an attorney and they should direct all questions to the attorney” indicated that the Derouins rejected a face-to-face meeting. Second, the trial court found that the Derouin’s refusal to agree to mediation after suit had been filed also constituted a waiver of the right to pre-suit counseling.

The Second District rejected both of these rulings. The Court found that “There was no evidence Universal or its servicer was prohibited from asking the Derouins for a face-to-face meeting through their attorney, nor was there any evidence that the Derouins would not participate in one if asked.” Derouin at 11. The Court also rejected the notion that a post-suit action could indicate a waiver of pre-suit requirements, reinforcing an important older Florida Supreme Court case holding that a party’s right to sue “must be measured by the facts as they exist when the suit was instituted.” Derouin at 11, citing Voges v. Ward, 123 So. 785, 793 (Fla. 1929).

Practice Tip: Argue only the facts at the time of suit when arguing compliance with conditions precedent. Also, clients may defer to their attorneys without waiving their rights.

Great job to Dan Rock as trial co-counsel for getting that record preserved. The appeal was a true team effort, with Jared Krukar writing the majority of the briefing and Dineen Wasylik conducting oral argument.

Jean Luc Picard Says Make it So to Effectuate the Mandate

Appeals 101: What is the Mandate?

Jean Luc Picard Says Make it So and gives the mandate After an appellate Court decides a case, it is still not quite over:  the appeal is only formally concluded once the mandate has issued.  Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.340 requires that the clerk issue the mandate as a ministerial act “after expiration of 15 days from the date of an order or decision.”  The mandate is not issued until after the order is final, and the court won’t enter a mandate while a timely motion for rehearing is pending. Fla. R. App. P. 9.340(b). But what is a mandate, and what should parties do when the mandate has issued?

The Mandate Defined

Florida’s Second District succinctly defined the mandate as “the official mode of communicating the judgment of the appellate court to the lower court, directing the action to be taken or the disposition to be made of the cause by the trial court.”
Tierney v. Tierney, 290 So. 2d 136, 137 (Fla. 2d DCA 1974).  It’s a simple one-page order that tells the trial court, in Star Trek speak, to “Make it so.”  It makes clear that the appellate court has completed its work on the case and now it is up to the trial court to put the appellate court’s ruling into action. And that is all the trial court may do, as the Second District more recently explained: “upon the issuance of our mandate, the trial court is without authority to take any action other than to compose an order carrying out the terms of the mandate. Florida Digestive Health Specialists, LLP v. Colina, 202 So. 3d 94, 96 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016).

What Action Needs to be Taken? It Depends.

Whether the parties need to take an action once the mandate issues depends upon what the appellate court has ruled.  If the appellate court has merely affirmed everything the trial court did — especially if it is a PCA –then there generally is not much more to do to effectuate the appellate court’s ruling on the merits. The judgment is truly final.

But if the Court orders “REVERSED AND REMANDED” then there is usually something the trial court needs to do to effectuate the mandate. It might be just the simple entry of a new judgment reflecting the ruling. It might be a new trial. The parties can’t expect the trial court to just act, though — the parties should seek an appropriate motion or other trial court action to effectuate the mandate. In rare instances, a party may even need to file a motion to enforce the mandate in the appellate court. See, e.g., Whited v. Florida Com’n on Offender Review, 153 So. 3d 324, 329 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014) (granting appellate motion to enforce the mandate and striking trial court’s order that did not effectuate the mandate); Florida Digestive Health Specialists, LLP v. Colina, 202 So. 3d 94, 96 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) (same).

What Happens Post Judgement Even if Judgment is Affirmed?

The finality of the mandate also give the parties the green light to finalize any fee issues and collect on the judgment. If the appellate court ordered an express or conditional award of attorney’s fees, it will also often order the trial court to determine the amount, and sometimes entitlement, to such fees. If there was a stay pending review, then the parties may need to take steps to end that stay. And the party who attained judgment has the all-clear to enforce that judgment without facing the possibility of having to return the money collected if the judgment is reversed. These collection actions may include proceedings in the trial court to locate assets for payment of a money judgment. In a foreclosure case, if the Bank achieved a foreclosure and that was upheld by the appellate court, the Bank will now take steps to obtain full possession of the property, which may include scheduling a sale if one has not already occurred, or obtaining or enforcing a writ of possession.

Can I keep the judgment from being final by recalling the mandate?

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.340(a) allows that “The court may direct the clerk to recall the mandate, but not more than 120 days after its issuance.” Many people read this and think they may be able to stop the mandate from issuing and the decision becoming final. But the application of this rule is very narrow, and generally it is only invoked when the Florida Supreme Court or United States Supreme Court has accepted review of a case after a mandate has issued. A party may ask that the mandate be withdrawn pending Supreme Court review. The court can also, in its discretion, recall the mandate if the issue in a case is being considered by a higher court in another case. Mitchell v. State, 160 So. 3d 902, 904 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).

About Appeals 101

This post is part of our continuing Appeals 101 series. Click the link to find all of our posts on the basics of litigating an appeal.