The Last Piece of the eFiling Puzzle: Automatic eService

Exciting news for Florida Litigators — in the not too distant future, separate email service will be replaced with service by the Court’s eFiling portal. The technology folks anticipate the eFiling Portal will be ready to provide service sometime in mid-September. This will apply to both trial courts and appellate courts. So be on the look out for administrative orders and/or a rule change regarding service of documents in state court.

Until it is officially rolled out, parties will still have to follow current rules on service by email.

President’s Day is Not a Holiday in Florida State Court

Back in October, I pointed out that Columbus Day is not a holiday in Florida state courts. A pro se appellant has learned the hard way that neither was President’s Day. See Harold v. State, 110 So. 3d 451 (Fla. 2d DCA March 27, 2013). Luckily for the appellant, it is a criminal case and he has the opportunity to apply for a belated appeal pursuant to Fla. R. App. P. 9.141(c). But a civil litigant would be out of luck, so be sure to analyze those deadlines carefully!

Service by and On Pro Se Litigants

The Florida state appellate courts handle thousands of pro se appeals annually.  How do the new e-service rules affect service by and on litigants who are not represented by an attorney?

Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516(c) [.pdf] has an answer to that question, and it’s pretty straight forward. If the pro se litigant chooses to send and receive by e-mail, the pro se litigant need only serve an e-mail designation notice. That is, the party should serve a notice on the opposing attorney (or if the opponent is not represented, the litigant) stating which primary and up to two secondary e-mail addresses at which they want to receive service, and follow up by filing that notice with the court. From then on, the pro se litigant will receive documents in the case by e-mail, and will also be requires to send them by e-mail if the other side is represented by an attorney or is pro se but has sent a designation. If the pro se litigant would rather stick to fax, mail, or hand delivery, just don’t serve an e-mail designation. Any pro se litigant who has not served a designation must serve and be served as set out in Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516(b)(2).

Bonus: Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.080 states that in civil trial matters, all service should be made in accordance with Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516. So the answer to how do you serve a pro se litigant is the same in the civil trial context and in appeals.

Caution: This post only applies to service of court documents. What about filing? That will have to be the subject of a different blog post. Whatever you read here, be sure to check the rules and do your own investigation. This blog is not legal advice, and the rules are constantly changing.