All Digital in the First DCA

Florida District Courts of Appeal Map Today’s the day that electronic filing by the clerks of court and court reporters becomes mandatory. As previously discussed, this means that the clerks of court and agencies within the First DCA — which encompases the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 14th Circuits — now must transmit their certified copies of the Notice of Appeal and more the record electronically. The Notice of Appeal procedure isn’t too onerous, but I don’t look forward to the delay I envision as the trial court clerks get used to preparing an electronic record on appeal. Great job to the panhandle for leading the way into the 21st century for the Florida intermediate appellate courts.

Electronic Record in the First DCA

Furthering its mission to become the first District Court of Appeal to have all electronic filing, the First District announced by administrative order that “lower courts, lower tribunals, and state agencies” within its purview will soon be required to upload the record on appeal electronically. Administrative Order 10-4 [.pdf] provides the clerks of court with detailed instructions for providing the First DCA with a certified copy of the notice of appeal using the eDCA portal, filing the order on appeal as a separate document, and also filing a separate “Notice of Appeal Transmittal Form,” electronically. ¶¶ 1, 1(e) and 1(f). For the time being, the filing fee will still be transmitted the old fashioned way. ¶ 1(b). The clerks are encouraged to start now, and required to fully implement the electronic filing of the notice of appeal and accompanying documents by October 1, 2010.

The Courts of Appeal were given the authority to dispense with paper filing back in June.

The record, too, will be required to be transmitted electronically starting October 1, 2010. Recognizing the bulk of the record, the transfer is done via ftp rather than upload to the eDCA system. ¶ 2. The clerks can obtain a waiver on a case-by-case basis if it is impossible to transmit the record electronically.

Court reporters also need to take heed of this order. They, too, must register with eDCA if they are going to ask for or file any pleadings with the Court. So if a court report wants an extension to prepare a transcript, she or he needs to file a motion using the eDCA portal. ¶ 3.

Timeliness of Notice of Appeal

Practice tip:  If you are appealing a final order rendered in Palm Beach, Broward, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee or St. Lucie counties, hand deliver your notice of appeal, and don’t go until you have a file-stamped copy of the notice in your hands.

Carlos Soledispa’s lawyer learned this lesson the hard way.  He sent the Notice of Appeal by courier, and had proof of delivery on February 11, which should have been timely for filing a notice of appeal of a January 13, 2010 order.  But the trial court clerk didn’t stamp the Notice as received until February 23, 2010 — too late.  The Fourth DCA certified conflict with the Third and Fifth DCAs, but refused to accept the evidence of timely filing, insisting that the “filing stamp date governs the filing date.” 

The case is Soledispa v. LaSalle Nat’l Bank Ass’n, No. 4D10-998 (April 28, 2010).

The trial-level clerks are quite backlogged, and I am not all that shocked that it took ten days to process a notice of appeal. I am, however, chagrined that the court would not allow the appellant to rebut the presumption of the correctness of the file stamp.

An untimely notice of appeal is doom for even the best appeal. File early, and don’t rest until you have proof of timely filing in hand.