Third DCA Becomes Third DCA to Allow Stipulated Enlargements

Following the trend started by the Fourth District Court of Appeal and Fifth District Court of Appeal, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal yesterday issued an administrative order [.pdf] that, effective immediately, allows parties to stipulate to enlargements of time to serve briefs, rather than seek leave of court. Importantly, the procedure does not apply to writs, expedited or emergency matters, nor adoptions, dependency or termination of parental rights cases. The parties by stipulation can agree to an aggregate of 120 days’ worth of enlargments for initial and answer briefs, and 60 days for reply briefs.


UPDATE:  The Third District in 2015 changed the extension time for reply briefs from 60 to 30 [.pdf].

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.

New Issues a No Go on Rehearing

The Fourth DCA recently issued an opinion on rehearing in which it reiterated a pretty basic, but nonetheless important point: If you didn’t raise an issue in your initial brief, you can’t raise it for the first time on a motion for rehearing before the appellate court. See Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Naugle, No. 4D10-1607 (Dec. 12, 2012) [.pdf]. The lesson, of course, is that if it is important enough to argue it all, an issue must go in your initial brief. Remember, Rule 9.330 requires that a party seeking rehearing point out “with particularity the points that…the court has overlooked or misapprehended in its decision.” The court cannot misapprehend or overlook that which a party never argued to begin with!