Second DCA to Switch to eDCA System

At this Morning’s State of the Second DCA CLE, Clerk Mary Beth Kuenzel announced a big and imminent change in the way that Court will be processing changes: as soon as March 1st, the Court will have transitioned to the eDCA filing system, and away from the Florida Court’s Portal. What does this mean for practitioners? If you are used to practicing in other DCAs, this transition won’t be too difficult, but for folks who only know the Portal, there will be some adjustment needed.

Sign Up Early. Watch the Clerk’s Website for the chance to sign up for eDCA in the next week. You’ll want to get your registration processed before it goes live and you need to file. You need a separate login for each District’s eDCA system.

Be Ready to Effectuate Separate Service. While eDCA provides “Case Mail” as soon as something is filed, that does not count as Service under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.516. You have to go back to sending a separate email for service.

Instant Orders. What we give up with service, we’ll get back tenfold by getting Court orders and opinions by email instead of U.S. Mail. This will save the Clerk more than $50,000 a year in postage, and save attorneys a lot of hassle, too.

Record on Demand. With eDCA, attorneys of record can download from the docket any DCA filing, including the Record on Appeal once transmitted. No more need for the FTP work around, which worked, but was time intensive for Court staff.

Briefs on Demand. Registrants to the system will also be able to pull briefs in cases where they are NOT counsel of record. Pretty handy if you are briefing the same issue!

Portal for Payment. The Second District will still be on the portal for one reason — to accept payment of filing fees. If you pay through the portal, plan to upload a simple payment transmittal letter, and ONLY a payment transmittal letter. Any other document or pleading will be kicked.

The hope is that the portal will be ready to work with the DCA internal docketing systems by Spring of 2018, and at that point, all of them will switch to the portal. But for now, all DCAs will require separate eDCA login.

Editor’s Note: We were in such a rush to get out this news, we forgot to mention the payment issue. This article is updated to reflect that information!

The Proof is in the Record, not the Pudding

The Fourth District Court of Appeal today gives us a humorous reminder of the importance of making a proper record before the trial court, and ensuring that record is before the appellate court. In this mortgage foreclosure action, the trial court granted involuntary dismissal because the Bank moved a copy of the Original Note, rather than the note itself, into evidence. On appeal, the Bank argued that the trial court erred because the original note was eventually surrendered, but the Court of Appeal correctly dismissed this argument, because it relied on evidence outside of the record:

Appellant maintains that it surrendered the note in a “package” to the clerk following the trial and requests this court to make the “logical and equitable” presumption that the original note was in the “package” surrendered to the court. However, this court does not make “logical and equitable” leaps of faith, as it cannot (and should not) make any such determination unsupported by the record before it. Appellant further contends that the trial court’s decision should be reversed because “the proof was in the pudding.” This may be true as, for all we know, the original promissory note was in that pudding. Nonetheless, it was not admitted into evidence at trial (although a copy of the note was moved into the record) and there is no indication that the original note has been previously filed with the court or the court clerk.

If you are ever tempted to make arguments based on items outside the record, don’t do it. I will henceforth call this the “pudding rule.”

The case is Deutsche Bank v. Huber, No. 4D12-3696 (April 23, 2014) [.pdf].

Second District eFiling Guidance

The Second District Court of Appeals this week started accepting voluntary electronic filing of appeals via the state eFiling portal. The Court has also issued several Administrative Orders to make the process go more smoothly. In AO 2013-2 [.pdf], the Court is requiring all electronic appendices to be fully text-searchable, and indexed or bookmarked. And really, this will make life so much easier for the judges and staff attorneys who are reading your brief and appendix. When it’s easier for them to find your record references, it will also be easier for them to understand your argument.

Filing through the ePortal also means that the former requirement to email a text copy of your brief to the Court has been terminated. See AO 2013-3 [.pdf]. What is not clear, however, is how this will affect the workflow for the judges at the Second DCA. That court is infamous for preparing summaries of briefs that pull together one party’s argument and line it up next to the other party’s. It will be interesting to hear how the judges adjust their process.