Briefing Deadlines Fixed

A vintage image of a girl in a boat adorning a calendar from January 1920

The Appellate Rules Committee was not caught without a paddle and fixed a deadline glitch before January 1, 2019.

The Florida Supreme Court fixed briefing deadlines for cross-appeals and dependency and parental rights termination cases, effective January 1, 2019 at 12:03 am.

One of the biggest changes to the Appellate Rules this year is the counterbalancing of the deletion of 5 extra days for mailing with the lengthening of most appellate deadlines. Generally speaking, most deadlines that were formerly 5 days are now 10, for example, and the brief deadlines that used to be 20 days are now 30, and deadlines that used to be 10 days are now 15. You read that right — even though we’ve lost mailing days, we generally now have five or more additional days to serve most items. (Why or more? Because when the Court took away mailing days, it also gave a little extra boon of allowing you to start counting “on the next day that isn’t a “Saturday, Sunday, or Legal Holiday” rather than the next day, so you are no longer starting 3 days into your response time when you walk into your office on Monday morning to find something was filed after hours on Friday. We break down the new math in a prior blog post).

With all of those rule changes (three different orders!) something was bound to fall through the cracks. Under the October 25, 2018 orders, two appellate rules — Rules 9.146 and 9.210 — inadvertently kept the old, shorter deadlines. Luckly, the Appellate Rules Committee was on it, and moved the Florida Supreme Court for rehearing to fix the oversight. Rather than grant rehearing, the Court treated the motion as an “out of cycle report” from the committee, adopting the changes and making them in effect as 12:03am on January 1, 2019. See In re Amendments to Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.146 & 9.210, No. SC18-1917, 43 Fla. L. Weekly S602 (Fla. Dec. 6, 2018)[.pdf]. Now cross appeal briefs have the same amount of time as initial and answer briefs, 30 days from service of the last brief. See Rule 9.210. And in dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings, practitioners also have the benefit of additional time (30 days for an answer and 15 days for a reply). See Rule 9.146.

The fully integrated .pdf rule set is now available on the Florida Bar’s website. Moreover, the fully integrated revised rules are also available at http://rules.floridaappellate.com.

An historic image from a calendar for the month of January

Calculating Deadlines Under the New Rules

An historic image from a calendar for the month of January

Don’t let January’s rule changes cause you confusion!

There is always some confusion when new rules affecting the calculation of deadlines come into effect, as happened on the January 1, 2019. How do you calculate deadlines that straddle the gap? Someone reached out directly to us to ask the question, so here’s our answer for posterity.

The hypothetical is this: Appellant files an initial brief on Friday, December 28, 2018. When is the answer brief due? Under the version of the rules in effect on December 28, 2018, an Answer Brief the rule stated:

Unless otherwise required, the answer brief shall be served within 20 days after service of the initial brief.

See former Rule 9.210(f). In addition, former rule 2.514(b) allowed an additional five days added to any deadline calculated based on service by e-mail:

(b) Additional Time after Service by Mail or E-mail. When a party may or must act within a specified time after service and service is made by mail or e-mail, 5 days are added after the period that would otherwise expire under subdivision (a).

So under the old rules, the 20th day is Thursday, January 17, 2019. Add five additional days for service by e-mail, and the deadline is Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

New Rules, New Math

The new rules change the calculations. The new version of Rule 9.210(f) states:

Unless otherwise required, the answer brief shall be served within 2030 days after service of the initial brief…

And the new version of Rule 2.514(b) eliminates extra days for service by e-mail, now reading:

(b) Additional Time after Service by Mail. When a party may or must act within a specified time after service and service is made by mail, 5 days are added after the period that would otherwise expire under subdivision (a).

Finally, the new version of Rule 2.514 gives you a break on when to start counting if someone served you something on the eve of a weekend or holiday. Where before, you would “exclude the day of the event that triggers the period” and start counting on the next calendar date, the new rule states that you “begin counting from the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.” See New Rule 2.514(a)(1).

The net result is that instead of counting 20 days (which could be more, if the last day fell on a weekend) and then adding an additional 5 days for mailing (which could be more, if the last day fell on a weekend), you now count a straight 30 days, starting from the next business day. If the last day falls on a weekend or holiday, you then role to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday. If the new rule applies to the brief filed December 28, 2018, you start counting from Monday December 31, 2018 (after confirming it is not a holiday; it is not). From there, the 30th day would be Tuesday, January 28, 2019.

Do the New Rules Change the Due Date?

So is the deadline the 22nd or the 28th? It’s great that the new rules tend to net attorneys more total time, but what happens this month? Good question.

There is voluminous case law about whether a newly-enacted statute should be applied retroactively.

In order for a law to apply retroactively, the court must determine (1) if there is evidence that the legislature clearly intended for the law to be applied retroactively, and (2) if so, whether the retrospective application of that law is constitutionally permissible. See Pondella Hall for Hire v. Lamar, 866 So.2d 719, 722 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004). In the absence of clear legislative intent that a law apply retroactively, the general rule is that procedural statutes apply retroactively and substantive statutes apply prospectively.

Envtl. Confederation of Sw. Florida, Inc. v. State, 886 So. 2d 1013, 1017 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004). But, this is not a statute enacted by the legislature, but rather, a rule of procedure promulgated by the Supreme Court.

Moreover even when the new law is stated by the Supreme Court, the analysis of retroactivity has constitutional dimensions:

the essential considerations in determining whether a new rule of law should be applied retroactively are essentially three: (a) the purpose to be served by the new rule; (b) the extent of reliance on the old rule; and (c) the effect on the administration of justice of a retroactive application of the new rule.

Witt v. State, 387 So. 2d 922, 926 (Fla. 1980).

But this rule generally comes into play when the Florida Supreme Court makes a ruling that itself has constitutional dimensions. It does not speak to rule changes.

Here, we are dealing with changes to rules of procedure and not statutory pronouncements or decisional changes in the law. The answer therefore lies in a different line of cases. Since the 1800s, the Florida Supreme Court has held that its rules of court are prospective in nature:

Unless otherwise specifically provided, our court rules are prospective only in effect. Poyntz v. Reynolds, 37 Fla. 533, 19 So. 649 (1896).

Tucker v. State, 357 So. 2d 719, 721 (Fla. 1978).

To avoid litigation in some criminal cases, the Supreme Court has sometimes expressed this rule of interpretation outright when making a rule change. For example, in amending the rules regarding post-conviction collateral relief, the court expressly stated the effective date and then stated, in the rule itself, “Motions pending on that date are governed by the version of this rule in effect immediately prior to that date.”
In re Amendments to Florida Rules of Judicial Admin.; Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure; and Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure–Capital Postconviction Rules, 148 So. 3d 1171, 1180 (Fla. 2014). However, precedent dictates that the rules apply prospectively only unless the Court expressly states otherwise. Poyntz v. Reynolds, 37 Fla. 533, 19 So. 649 (1896); Tucker v. State, 357 So. 2d 719, 721 (Fla. 1978).

Apply the Rules in Effect on the Triggering Date

All of this is a long-winded analysis to come to a very logical conclusion: calculate deadlines based upon the rules in effect on the date of the event that triggers the calculation. So in our hypothetical, because the deadline for service of an answer brief is based on the date of service of the initial brief, and because the initial brief was served last year when the old rules were in effect, calculate the deadline using the old rules. The answer brief is due Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Don’t miss our other entries on the rule changes, including our overview, and our discussion of new types of appeals authorized by the new rules. Let us help you with your appeal! 813-778-5161.

Dead End by Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik All Rights Reserved

Is it Appealable? July 2018 edition

A street sign that displaying "dead end"

Is it appealable, or a dead end? Several district court decisions from this month answer that question in different ways.

Appealable or not?  The courts decide…

The immediate reaction to an adverse ruling is often “I want to appeal that!” But not all orders are immediately appealable, as several cases this month have shown. And sometimes, an order is immediately appealable even if the case continues for other reasons, and you can waive your rights to appeal if you don’t act immediately. The district courts of appeal have issued a number of decisions this month regarding appellate jurisdiction to review a trial court’s order, which usually comes down to the question “Is this a final order?” Below we’ve summarized just a few of the cases discussing finality and appealability the courts issued in July, grouping them by type of order. As always, if you have any questions regarding the finality or appealability of an order, contact us and we’d be glad to talk about your situation with you!

Orders on fees.

FCCI Commercial Insurance Co. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Co., 2D17-1749 (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

FCCI intervened in a pending case against its insureds after the trial court disqualified the attorney FCCI had retained on its insureds’ behalf and awarded attorneys’ fees to Empire based on that attorney’s misconduct. When FCCI appeared, the trial court imposed the award of those fees upon FCCI based on its finding that FCCI had directed the disqualified attorneys’ actions.  FCCI appealed that order.

On appeal, Empire argued the appellate court did not have jurisdiction over the appeal, presumably because there were proceedings still pending in the trial court.  The court disagreed, holding “Not only is the order awarding Empire attorney’s fees an executable judgment against FCCI concluding a portion of the litigation ancillary to Empire’s ongoing litigation against [FCCI’s insureds and other defendants], . . . but FCCI’s limited intervention solely for the purpose of addressing fees demonstrates that the conclusion of the attorney fees proceeding ended judicial labor as to FCCI,” citing Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.110(k)(review of partial final judgments) and a number of cases.

Yampol v. Turnberry Isle South Condominium Association, Inc., 3D17-2752 (Fla. 3d DCA July 5, 2018)[.pdf]

After dismissing a case in the trial court, both parties (Yampol and Turnberry) moved for attorney’s fees.  The trial court entered an order that denied Turnberry’s fees and granted Yampol entitlement to fees.  Upon a motion for reconsideration, the trial court changed its mind, granting Turnberry entitlement to fees and denying Yampol’s motion.  Yampol appealed.

Turnberry moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the order was not yet final because it found only entitlement, and not amount, as to its award of fees.  The appellate court determined “[t]he issue before us in this appeal is whether an order that grants one party’s entitlement to fees and denies the other party’s entitlement to fees ins an appealable final order.”

Ultimately, the court ruled the order was appealable because an “order denying a party’s claim for entitlement to attorney’s fees . . . is an appealable final order,” even if an order granting attorney’s fees as to entitlement but not to amount is not appealable.  The trial court ended all litigation as to Yampol’s fees in its second order so the order was final and appealable as to Yampol. This is a great example of how the same order can be final and appealable for one party but not another.

Orders to show cause.

Torres v. Lefler, 2D17-2741 (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

The trial court ordered Mr. Torres to show cause within ten days why he should not be sanctioned for repeatedly filing frivolous lawsuits, failing which, sanctions would be imposed.  Mr. Torres filed a notice of appeal before the ten days was up.  The appellate court dismissed the appeal from that order, holding that the trial court merely reserved jurisdiction to impose sanctions and thus the order was not final or appealable.

Amended temporary orders while an appeal is pending.

Duryea v. Bono, 2D17-4314, 2D17-4422 (consolidated) (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

In this family law appeal, the trial court rendered a Temporary Order for Timesharing on October 27, 2017.  Duryea filed a notice of appeal.  Then the trial court rendered an Amendment to the Temporary Order for Timesharing on November 2, 2017, substantively modifying the October 27, 2017, order.  Duryea filed another notice of appeal.

The appellate court affirmed the October 27, 2017, order.  However, it held that the November 2, 2017, order was a nullity because it was entered while the appeal from the prior order was pending and was substantive in nature.  Consequently, the court remanded with directions to vacate the November 2, 2017 order.

Orders granting partial summary judgment incorporating injunctive relief.

Woodfield Community Association, Inc. v. Ortiz, 2D18-341 (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

The Ortizes sued their homeowner’s association.  In count 1, they sought a declaration that parking restrictions were void and unenforceable.  They moved for partial summary judgment, which the trial court granted.  The court declared prior fines void and enjoined the homeowner’s association from imposing further fines.  The association appealed.

The appellate court recognized that “Generally, orders that merely grant partial summary judgment, such as the one before us, are considered nonfinal, nonappealable orders.”  “However, Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(a)(3)(B) provides us jurisdiction to review the portion of the order enjoining the association from enforcing the recorded declaration.”  The appellate court dismissed all other portions of the association’s appeal that did “not pertain to injunctive relief,” without prejudice to raising those issues in a later final appeal.

Timeliness of Notice of Appeal.

Elmouki v. Department of Transportation, 1D18-0715 (Fla. 1st DCA July 9, 2018)[.pdf]

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board issued a letter rejecting Elmouki’s challenge to a citation he received while operating a commercial motor vehicle.  The letter was dated January 18, 2018, but included a timestamp showing it was filed with the clerk of the Department of Transportation on January 17, 2018.  Elmouki filed his notice of appeal on Monday, February 19.

The appellate court held that the 30-day time period for Elmouki to file his notice of appeal ran from the date the letter was rendered, which was the date it was filed with the Department.  Consequently, the time for Elmouki to file his notice of appeal expired on Friday, February 16, and Elmouki’s February 19 notice was untimely.

The appellate court dismissed the appeal without prejudice to Elmouki petitioning the Review Board to vacate and reissue the letter so that he could appeal.

In rem vs. personal jurisdiction.

Patel v. Wilmington Savings Bank, FSB, 5D17-1900 (Fla. 5th DCA July 6, 2018)[.pdf]

The trial court denied the Patels’ motion to quash constructive service of process, ruling that it had in rem jurisdiction.  The Patels appealed, presumably pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(a)(3)(C)(i), which authorizes an appeal from a non-final order that determines the jurisdiction of the person.

However, the trial court did not determine the jurisdiction of the person, it only ruled on jurisdiction in rem, or over the property at issue.  Consequently, the appellate court held that rule 9.130(a)(3)(C)(i) did not provide a non-final appeal from the trial court’s order and thus dismissed the appeal.

Mootness.

Mitchell v. Brogden, 1D16-5849 (Fla. 1st DCA July 16, 2018)[.pdf]

Mitchell appealed a stalking injunction that expired by its own terms while the appeal was pending.  “Nonetheless, [the court held,] we cannot dismiss the appeal as moot because ‘collateral legal consequences flowing from such an injunction outlast the injunction itself.'” (citation omitted).

Preservation by motion for rehearing.

Mahoney v. Mahoney, 1D17-2071 (Fla. 1st DCA July 9, 2018)[.pdf]

Former Husband waived arguments for appeal regarding lack of written findings on trial support and some arguments regarding the cut-off date for the identification of a retirement plan as a marital asset by failing to include those arguments in a trial court motion for rehearing.

Looking for more?

Check out our past blog posts on rendition, timing of your notice of appeal, and post-judgment tolling motions, and check out our Florida Bar Journal article on how trial court motions for rehearing affect preservation on appeal.  Or scroll through the blog for more!