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October 15, 2011
Judicial administration rules amended to make filings more accessible

The Florida Rules of Judicial Administration have been amended to require any e-filing that will become part of the “judicial branch record” be ADA compliant.

The Supreme Court also changed the rules to require client contact information be included in motions to withdraw, and amended other provisions dealing with testimony taken via communication equipment.

The court acted September 28 in Case No. SC11-52.

Accessibility
To address making electronic documents accessible to persons with disabilities — a concern originally raised by Justice Peggy Quince — the court adopted new Rule 2.526 to require any electronically transmitted document that is or will become a “judicial branch record,” to be formatted in compliance with state and federal accessibility requirements.

The new rule applies to all electronically transmitted “court records” and “administrative records,” i.e., records made or received in connection with the transaction of official business by any judicial branch entity.

The court also modified new subdivision (g) of Rule 2.525 to require that all documents transmitted in any electronic form under that rule must comply with the accessibility requirements of new Rule 2.526.

Motion to Withdraw
The court also amended Rule 2.505(f)(1) (Withdrawal of Attorney) to require that a motion to withdraw include the client’s telephone number and email address. The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee has asked that the client’s telephone number be included in a motion to withdraw to make it easier for the court to maintain contact with a party who may have to proceed pro se after withdrawal of the attorney. To further that goal, the court added the requirement that the client’s email address also be included in the motion.

Testimony
The court also adopted an amendment to Rule 2.530(d)(1) (Testimony; Generally), which currently provides that if all the parties consent, a county or circuit judge may allow testimony to be taken through communication equipment.

The rule was amended to provide that testimony also can be taken by communication equipment “if permitted by another applicable rule of procedure,” allowing the various Florida Bar rules committees to consider whether their bodies of rules should be amended to allow for the use of communication equipment without the parties’ consent.

In response to a suggestion by the Family Law Section, the court also amended Rule 2.530(d)(1) to clarify that general magistrates, special magistrates, and hearing officers also may allow the use of communication equipment in accordance with the amended rule.

The amendments become effective January 1, 2012, at 12:01 a.m.

[Revised: 04-12-2014]