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.

The Legacy of Justice Arthur J. England, Jr: A Supreme Court of Limited Jurisdiction

Justice Arthur England

–Justice Arthur England. Photo courtesy State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/19904

The Florida Bar Journal this month contains a fascinating analysis of the legacy of recently deceased former Florida Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. England. If you’ve ever gotten a PCA opinion from a District Court of Appeal and lamented the fact that you couldn’t seek further review from the Florida Supreme Court, it seems you have Justice England to thank. The article goes into great detail about Justice England’s consistent string of concurring and dissenting opinions in the late 1970s, all of which argued that the Florida Supreme Court should not go behind a no-opinion DCA decision to further review the underlying “record proper,” as the Court held it could in Foley v. Weaver Drugs, Inc., 177 So.2d 221, 225 (Fla. 1965). In 1978, then Chief Justice England appointed an Appellate Structure Commission, which analyzed the jurisdiction of the court system and eventually recommended a constitutional amendment to limit the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. By 1980, the Florida Supreme Court, interpreting it’s new constitutional scope, ruled that it lacked conflict jurisdiction over unelaborated PCAs. See Jenkins v. State, 385 So.2d 1356, 1359 (Fla. 1980).

The article provides lots of interesting background about the political and judicial workings at play to create such a sea-change in the jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court, and in the Florida court system as a whole. If you’re a rules geek like me, it is definitely worth the read!

More Time to Serve Rule 1.530 Motion for New Trial or Rehearing

The Florida Supreme Court last week approved several changes to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure [.pdf]. The Rule change most likely to affect appellate practitioners — for the better — is the change to Rule 1.530:

Time for Motion. A motion for new trial or for rehearing shall be served not later than 1015 days after the return of the verdict in a jury action or the date of filing of the judgment in a non-jury action. A timely motion may be amended to state new grounds in the discretion of the court at any time before the motion is determined.

The time for service of a motion to alter or amend the judgment under 1.530(g) and for the court to grant rehearing on its own initiative under 1.530(d) is likewise expanded from 10 to 15 days.

This rule change is made without comment from the Supreme Court, but it makes a lot of sense. It can be quite difficult to obtain transcripts in time to prepare a good motion for rehearing, and having a transcript to support the motion is a great help to both the trial and appellate court. I am glad to see it. And the added bonus? Those who are not paying attention to the rule change will be early, rather than late, so this won’t cause a lot of litigation over timeliness of these (jurisdictional) motions.

The change is effective January 1, 2014.