The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Introduction: It’s a Brave New Appellate World

Featured Article

    Judge Learn ed Hand once said, “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.” That insatiable spirit has never been more prevalent than it is today.

    Over the last decade, appellate filings in the state of Florida have risen an average of more than 28 percent among all of the district courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Florida, and we have become the fourth most litigious state in the union. Fortunately, we are part of a profession that is willing to stand up for what is right and ensure that the rule of law is followed. For as Martin Luther King, Jr., noted, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    Over the years, appellate practice has changed dramatically. Never before had courts mandated that appellate briefs had to be put on disks and mailed to the court along with hard copies of briefs. Font styles, size, and standards of review are part of our new vocabulary. And with the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, e-filings are becoming not only commonplace, but also mandated by the courts.

    E ven the way we research has changed. Books are becoming antiquated and cost prohibitive. LexisNexis and Westlaw have revolutionized the way we research. All you need is a computer and Internet access and the world is at your fingertips. With that technology comes the added responsibility of being current to the nearest nanosecond! Do you want to review a clause of the Hague Convention? Forget about going to the law library. What is that anyway? There is no need to spend hours in the back room of the once hallowed place. Instead, just point and click and you can have an answer in seconds. Do you want to see a copy of the transcript of the proceedings from a hearing this morning to decide if you should take an interlocutory appeal? Who has to wait for couriers when the court reporter can e-mail you those transcripts faster than you can blink!

    H aving handled numerous appeals throughout the state, and experienced these changes firsthand, we became keenly aware that it had been some time since a special issue of The Florida Bar Journal had been devoted to appellate practice. We approached the Bar Journal Editorial Board with a proposal which it readily approved. With special thanks to the Editorial Board and editorial staff, you have before you our issue, designed to take every attorney — not only appellate attorneys — from trial preparation through the appeal, because you never know when a case you are handling might end up on appeal.

    We sought experienced and knowledgeable authors who, we believe, provide thoughtful and useful insight in all aspects of the appellate process. There is also special insight provided by the chief judges from all the district courts of appeal in the state.

    We urge you to take the time to review the articles and then use them as a future reference guide. After all, to paraphrase Aldous Huxley, it is a brave new appellate world out there.