Thursday, December 8, 2022

FL S. Ct. Improved Resolution Workgroup Rules OA

The Supreme Court of Florida heard oral argument today on a package of rules proposed by their appointed Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases that might forever impact our state court system in a major way. These amendments are proposed as a paradigm shift to change the legal community and the perceived problems such as that current rules engender delay culture and firmer deadlines move cases. Firm trial dates, dates for discovery cutoffs and dispositive motions that are enforced by active case management can promote efficient resolution of cases according to the judges creating these proposed rules. Hearing time is a precious commodity that is often wasted with cancellation as are trial weeks according to Chief Judge Morris of the 2d DCA who reports that a mere 0.04% of cases end up in trial. Some judges appearing advocated the integration of county clerks' computer systems and the judicial case systems to alleviate duplication and promote standardization such as PACER in the federal system. The Civil Rules Committee chair said the adoption of the federal summary judgment rule brought the case law relied on in that system for clarity, but cautioned that the wide swath of changes to aggressive case management would shock the system and create growing pains with litigation on those changes. Justice Canady, who oversaw the Covid-19 crisis in the courts, said serving the litigants was the reason emergency procedures were ordered and now the court wants to see how to institutionalize those changes that proved successful in getting cases at issue during the pandemic. Justice Polston expressed concern with cases that are falling far behind or that just plain languish. He was also concerned parties should be exempt from the case management rubric in cases that are subject to Arbitration. Justice Labarga said when he was a trial judge, lawyers did not adhere to deadlines, especially with experts. Justice Muniz questioned why not implement proportionality in discovery like federal court and was told by a sophisticated commenter that our state system was just not ready to address that. The bar's Business Law Section is in favor of proportionality and also agreed with imposing track rules on cases except for presumptive streamlining of bench trials. The Appellate Rules Committee did not like substantive standards of review found in a few of these procedural rules. Probate practitioners were concerned about the disparity in dockets around the state and increased judicial decisionmaking versus routine uncontested proceedings. Critics of the sweeping package took issue with the lack of resources to implement these changes and technical irreconcilable differences between some of the rules. Others feared increased sanctions and less continuances. Judge Bailey responded on behalf of her workgroup arguing that because civil justice costs too much and takes too long, the public has lost faith and these case management changes are needed. While there were concerns over standardizing hearing procedures, everyone agreed an educational effort is needed in conjunction with the rollout of these rules. See more here-- and Case No. SC22-122