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Court amends Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration to promote ‘fair and timely’ resolution of civil cases

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As part of its ongoing effort to improve “the timely resolution of civil cases through effective case management,” the Supreme Court on March 21 adopted a set of amendments to the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration aimed at moving cases along.

In 2022, the Workgroup on the Improved Resolution of Civil Cases submitted a final report to the court proposing amendments to the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration and multiple other rule sets aimed at “promoting the fair and timely resolution of civil cases.” The amendments provided for court case management of civil cases with early judicial intervention, adherence to established deadlines, and reporting of case management data.

Because the court said additional refinements were needed, justices made a series of phased referrals for the “refinement and study of the workgroup’s proposals.”

One referral tasked the Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee with refining proposed changes to the Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration, which filed a report that included a proposal for new rule 2.546 (Active and Inactive Case Status) and for existing rules 2.215 (Trial Court Administration), 2.250 (Time Standards for Trial and Appellate Courts and Reporting Requirements), and 2.550 (Calendar Conflicts). The committee also proposed the addition of new forms 2.604 (Notice of Pending Matter), 2.605 (Notice of Inactive Status), and 2.606 (Notice of Active Status).

The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors unanimously recommended acceptance of the proposed amendments.

“Having considered the reports from both the Committee and the Workgroup, the comment received, and the Committee’s response, we adopt the amendments to the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration proposed by the Committee with some modifications,” the court said.

The more significant rule amendments include:

  • To promote efficient case management, the existing reporting requirement in Rule 2.215(f) (Duty to Rule within a Reasonable Time) is amended to require a judge to maintain a log of all matters, not just cases, held under advisement and to notify the chief judge each month of all matters that have been held under advisement for more than 60 days. The committee proposed amending Rule 2.215(f) to also require judges to report matters “ready for disposition,” but the court decline to make the change “because a listing of all matters held under advisement for more than 60 days would necessarily include any matter that is ‘ready for disposition.’”
  • The court amended Rule 2.215 to include new subdivision (f)(2) (Notice of Pending Matter). Under the new subdivision, a party may prompt a judge to rule on a matter that has been pending for more than 60 days by filing a notice with the clerk and serving a copy on the judge. New Form 2.604 contains a sample notice for use in providing notice under the rule.
  • Rule 2.250(a) (Time Standards) is amended to add a time standard of 30 months for complex cases and to clarify when the time standards for civil cases begin and end. And rule 2.250(b) (Reporting of Cases) is amended to require the chief judge of each circuit to serve on the chief justice and the state court administrator an annual re-port listing all active civil cases that have been pending three or more years.
  • New Rule 2.546 requires the parties in all types of proceedings to notify a court of a case’s change in status. The new rule is divided into two parts. Subdivision (a) (Required Stay) addresses changing a case’s status when a stay is required by law, while subdivision (b) (Requested Stay) addresses changing a case’s status when a stay is requested but not required by law. Under subdivision (a), and in instances such as a bankruptcy stay, a party need only promptly file a notice indicating a change in the case’s status to place it on active or inactive status; no court action is needed. New forms 2.605 and 2.606 contain sample notices for use in providing notice of a case’s status under subdivision (a).

Under subdivision (b), a party may file a motion requesting a change in case status, but absent a stipulation that a pending appellate ruling in another matter will be dispositive, or a showing of extraordinary circumstances, a court will not grant a request to place a case on inactive status. To ensure that a party is required to act with the same level of promptness in restoring a case to active status under both subdivisions, the court revised subdivision (b)(2) to read: “A party must promptly move to restore a case to active status when circumstances make inactive status unnecessary.” The court also revised the first sentence of subdivision (b)(3) to clarify that a party filing a motion seeking a change in case status under the rule must serve a copy of the motion and a proposed order on the presiding judge at the time the motion is filed.

  • Rule 2.550(c) (Notice and Agreement; Resolution by Judges) is amended to clarify that when a lawyer is scheduled to appear in two courts at the same time, the presiding judges must confer and resolve the conflict.

The court directed the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability to monitor the effect of the amendments for one year after they go into effect and to provide the court with updated recommendations at year’s end.

The amendments become effective July 1, 2024, at 12:01 a.m.

The court acted in In Re: Amendments to Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration, No. SC2023-0837.

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