Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure

In Florida, all appellate proceedings are governed by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. These appellate proceedings include all administrative appeals, civil appeals, and criminal appeals. According to Rule 9.010 of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, these rules are designed to be superior to not only the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.130, but also any other conflicting statutes. However, simply because these rules are superior to conflicting rules does not mean that all other rules in agreement lack any influence. In fact, sections of Florida statutes are mentioned throughout the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, such as Chapter 120 of the Florida Statutes, which defines the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure and the Administrative Procedures Act.

One of the many functions of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure is that it establishes the appellate jurisdiction of the Florida courts. In other words, the rules indicate what variety of cases the Florida courts have the authority to hear on appeal.

The Supreme Court of Florida

In the State of Florida, the highest court is the Florida Supreme Court, and it is required to review specific cases. This requirement is commonly referred to as “direct appellate jurisdiction.” Thus, the Florida Supreme Court has direct appellate jurisdiction over the following types of cases:

* Final orders imposing sentences of death

* District court decisions holding that a state statute or provision of the statute constitution invalid

* Bond validations

* Certain orders of the Public Service Commission on utility rates and services

By contrast, so long as the Florida Supreme Court is not required to hear a specific case, the Court has the ability to choose the cases it wants to hear. This non-mandatory review is referred to as “discretionary jurisdiction,” and the Florida Supreme Court retains this discretion to review any lower court decision that does one of the following:

* expressly declares a state statute valid

* expressly construes a provision of the state or federal constitution

* expressly affects a class of constitutional or state officers

* expressly and directly conflicts with a decision of another district court of appeal or of the Supreme Court of the United States on the same question of law

* passes upon a question certified to be of great public importance

* is certified to be in direct conflict with decisions of other district courts of appeal

* is an order or judgment of a trial court certified by the district court of appeals in which the appeal is pending to require immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of the United States, and to be of great public importance, or to have a great effect on the proper administration of justice

* is a question of law certified by the Supreme Court of the United States or a United States Court of Appeals that is determinative of the cause of action and for which there is no controlling precedent of the Supreme Court of Florida

Although a petition seeking discretionary review from the Florida Supreme Court must be founded in at least one of the preceding reasons, it is never guaranteed that the Florida Supreme Court will grant review. In fact, it is rather challenging to get an administrative, civil, or criminal past the district courts of appeal.

The Circuit Courts of Appeal

Generally, the federal circuit courts of appeal are authorized to review lower court decisions that involve final orders and administrative actions. These courts can also review lower court decisions involving non-final orders; however, these non-final orders are limited to the ones not referenced in Rule 9.130 of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The Florida District Courts of Appeal

The district courts of Florida retain appellate jurisdiction over final trial court orders. However, these orders do not include the ones earlier provided in the appellate jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida district courts of appeal also retain limited certiorari jurisdiction to hear (1) final orders from the lower circuit courts, but only when acting as a court of review; and (2) non-final orders from the lower courts. However, this limited certiorari jurisdiction is subject to the limitations of Rule 1.30 of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. These courts also retain discretionary review the following:

* Final orders of county courts

* Non-final court orders

Further, if these orders are considered to be of great public importance and the county thereby certifies them as such, these orders have the potential to appealed to one of the federal circuit courts of appeal.

It is extremely important to remember that if an action is not filed properly, the ability to refile may be revoked. Therefore, correctly deciding on how to approach the court and, more importantly, which court to file an appeal in, is extremely important for a successful appeal.

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