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Supreme Court reminds appellants of its limited jurisdiction

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Florida Supreme Court SealThe Florida Supreme Court has limited jurisdiction and cannot hear an appeal merely because a party is unhappy with a lower court ruling.

The court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Alan Lawson, recently dismissed an appeal it had original accepted after the appellants, in their jurisdictional brief, failed to list a reason the case met the standards of Art. V, Sec. 3, of the Florida Constitution. That section spells out 10 areas where the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear cases.

Lawson wrote that the appellant initially said the First District Court of Appeal ruling in the case conflicted either with other DCA opinions or a Supreme Court ruling — where the court does have purview.

When the jurisdictional brief was filed, though, the appellant merely said, “the case ‘may present federal issues’” and asked the court to grant discretionary review.

“Because the Florida Constitution does not authorize this Court to review cases that ‘may present federal issues,’ we deny the petition,” Lawson wrote. “Because we have received a number of similar briefs recently that identify potential ‘federal issues’ but fail to identify any basis for our review, we write to explain why we do not have jurisdiction in this case or similar cases.”

The jurisdictional brief cited an Illinois case involving a habeas corpus appeal to the federal courts after state court proceedings and involved claims not raised in state court.

“We fail to see the relevance of [the Illinois case] to the question of our jurisdiction to review the First District’s opinion.. . , ” Lawson wrote. “First, of course, our jurisdiction is established by the Florida Constitution, not by federal law. And, second, unlike the Illinois Supreme Court, which ‘has the opportunity to decide which cases it will consider on the merits’. . . we do not. Art. V, § 3(b), Fla. Const.”

The court acted October 10 in Mallet v. Florida, Case No. SC19-1038.

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