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Court creates workgroup to improve how civil cases are processed

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Supreme Court sealThe Florida Supreme Court is taking aim at improving how civil cases move through the state court system.

Pursuant to an October 31 administrative order signed by Chief Justice Charles Canady, the court ordered the creation of a Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases established within the Judicial Management Council.

Second District Court of Appeal Judge Robert Morris will chair the workgroup that will be guided by the goals of The Long-Range Strategic Plan for the Florida Judicial Branch 2016-2021, that includes ensuring the fair and timely resolution of all cases through effective case management and using caseload and other workload information to manage resources and promote accountability.

Florida’s courts annually manage more than two million civil case filings.

“Administering the limited resources available to move these cases through the judicial system fairly and without unnecessary delay is a challenging task,” the court said. “Florida’s judicial branch is committed to continual improvement of the administration of justice, including enhancement of civil case management processes in order to deliver justice in a timely, cost-efficient, and accountable manner while maintaining due process.”

The workgroup will review:

• The civil case management recommendations endorsed in 2016 by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators and the outcomes of pilot projects or other initiatives that have implemented these recommendations in this and other states.

• Recent initiatives in other states wherein rules of court were amended, or other measures were taken to achieve more timely and cost effective, or otherwise improved resolution, of civil cases.

• Laws, rules of court, and practices that have improved the management and resolution of civil cases in the federal court system and that, if adopted in Florida, would improve the resolution of civil cases.

The workgroup also will examine Florida’s laws, rules of court, and practices relating to civil procedure and case management to determine whether changes can be made to improve the resolution of civil cases.

“Such examination shall include consideration of whether this state’s laws and rules of court sufficiently address and deter a failure to prosecute, a violation of discovery, presentation of an unsupported claim or defense, and causation of an improper delay in litigation,” the court said.

The court set an August 14, 2020, deadline for the workgroup to submit an interim report describing its progress and specifying any findings and recommendations it may have developed by that time. A final report is due by June 30, 2021.

“Before submission to the council, the workgroup shall present its findings and recommendations to the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability and to the relevant rules committees of The Florida Bar for comment,” the court said.

Others appointed to the workgroup include:

• 11th Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey

• Kenneth B. Bell of Tallahassee

• Thomas S. Edwards, Jr., of Jacksonville

• Scott G. Hawkins, a former Bar president from West Palm Beach

• Broward County Judge Robert Lee

• Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Donald A. Myers, Jr.

• 13th Circuit Judge Christopher C. Nash

• Eugene K. Pettis, a former Bar president from Ft. Lauderdale

Staff support for the workgroup will be provided by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

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