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Florida Rules of Judicial Administration
Part V(B)
Practice of Law - Practice and Litigation Procedures

RULE 2.514 | COMPUTING AND EXTENDING TIME

(a) Computing Time. The following rules apply in computing time periods specified in any rule of procedure, local rule, court order, or statute that does not specify a method of computing time.

(1) Period Stated in Days or a Longer Unit. When the period is stated in days or a longer unit of time
(A) exclude the day of the event that triggers the period;
(B) count every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays; and
(C) include the last day of the period, but if the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or falls within any period of time extended through an order of the chief justice under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.205(a)(2)(B)(iv), the period continues to run until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday and does not fall within any period of time extended through an order of the chief justice.

(2) Period Stated in Hours.
(A) begin counting immediately on the occurrence of the event that triggers the period;
(B) count every hour, including hours during intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays; and
(C) if the period would end on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or during any period of time extended through an order of the chief justice under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.205(a)(2)(B)(iv), the period continues to run until the same time on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday and does not fall within any period of time extended through an order of the chief justice.

(3) Period Stated in Days Less Than Seven Days. When the period stated in days is less than 7 days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays shall be excluded in the computation.
(4) “Last Day” Defined. Unless a different time is set by a statute, local rule, or court order, the last day ends
(A) for electronic filing or for service by any means, at midnight; and
(B) for filing by other means, when the clerk’s office is scheduled to close.

(5) “Next Day” Defined. The “next day” is determined by continuing to count forward when the period is measured after an event and backward when measured before an event.
(6) “Legal Holiday” Defined. “Legal holiday” means
(A) the day set aside by section 110.117, Florida Statutes, for observing New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day, and
(B) any day observed as a holiday by the clerk’s office or as designated by the chief judge.

(b) Additional Time after Service by Mail or E-mail. When a party may or must act within a specified time after service and service is made by mail or e-mail, 5 days are added after the period that would otherwise expire under subdivision (a).

RULE 2.515 | SIGNATURE AND CERTIFICATES OF ATTORNEYS AND PARTIES

(a) Attorney’s Signature and Certificates. Every document of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least 1 attorney of record in that attorney’s individual name whose current record Florida Bar address, telephone number, including area code, primary e-mail address and secondary e-mail addresses, if any, and Florida Bar number shall be stated, and who shall be duly licensed to practice law in Florida or who shall have received permission to appear in the particular case as provided in rule 2.510. The attorney may be required by the court to give the address of, and to vouch for the attorney’s authority to represent, the party. Except when otherwise specifically provided by an applicable rule or statute, documents need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The signature of an attorney shall constitute a certificate by the attorney that:
(1) the attorney has read the document;
(2) to the best of the attorney’s knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support the document;
(3) the document is not interposed for delay; and
(4) the document contains no confidential or sensitive information, or that any such confidential or sensitive information has been properly protected by complying with the provisions of rules 2.420 and 2.425. If a document is not signed or is signed with intent to defeat the purpose of this rule, it may be stricken and the action may proceed as though the document had not been served.
(b) Pro Se Litigant Signature. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign any document and state the party’s address and telephone number, including area code.

(c) Form of Signature.
(1) The signatures required on documents by subdivisions (a) and (b) of this rule may be:
(A) original signatures;
(B) original signatures that have been reproduced by electronic means, such as on electronically transmitted documents or photocopied documents;
(C) an electronic signature indicator using the “/s/,” “s/,” or “/s” [name] formats authorized by the person signing a document electronically served or filed; or
(D) any other signature format authorized by general law, so long as the clerk where the proceeding is pending has the capability of receiving and has obtained approval from the Supreme Court of Florida to accept pleadings and documents with that signature format.

(2) By serving a document, or by filing a document by electronic transmission using an attorney’s assigned electronic filing credentials:
(A) that attorney certifies compliance with subdivision (a)(1) through (a)(4) and accepts responsibility for the document for all purposes under this rule;
(B) that attorney certifies compliance with all rules of procedure regarding service of the document on attorneys and parties;
(C) that attorney certifies that every person identified as a signer in the document as described in subdivision (c)(1)(C) has authorized such signature; and
(D) every signing attorney is as responsible for the document as if that document had been served by such signing attorney or filed using the assigned electronic filing credentials of such signing attorney.

RULE 2.516 | SERVICE OF PLEADINGS AND DOCUMENTS

(a) Service; When Required. Unless the court otherwise orders, or a statute or supreme court administrative order specifies a different means of service, every pleading subsequent to the initial pleading and every other document filed in any court proceeding, except applications for witness subpoenas and documents served by formal notice or required to be served in the manner provided for service of formal notice, must be served in accordance with this rule on each party. No service need be made on parties against whom a default has been entered, except that pleadings asserting new or additional claims against them must be served in the manner provided for service of summons.

(b) Service; How Made. When service is required or permitted to be made upon a party represented by an attorney, service must be made upon the attorney unless service upon the party is ordered by the court.
(1) Service by Electronic Mail (“e-mail”). All documents required or permitted to be served on another party must be served by e-mail, unless the parties otherwise stipulate or this rule otherwise provides. A filer of an electronic document has complied with this subdivision if the Florida Courts e-filing Portal (“Portal”) or other authorized electronic filing system with a supreme court approved electronic service system (“e-Service system”) served the document by e-mail or provided a link by e-mail to the document on a website maintained by a clerk (“e-Service”). The filer of an electronic document must verify that the Portal or other e-Service system uses the names and e-mail addresses provided by the parties pursuant to subdivision (b)(1)(A).
(A) Service on Attorneys. Upon appearing in a proceeding, an attorney must designate a primary e-mail address and may designate no more than two secondary e-mail addresses and is responsible for the accuracy of and changes to that attorney’s own e-mail addresses maintained by the Portal or other e-Service system. Thereafter, service must be directed to all designated e-mail addresses in that proceeding. Every document filed or served by an attorney thereafter must include the primary e-mail address of that attorney and any secondary e-mail addresses. If an attorney does not designate any e-mail address for service, documents may be served on that attorney at the e-mail address on record with The Florida Bar.
(B) Exception to E-mail Service on Attorneys. Upon motion by an attorney demonstrating that the attorney has no e-mail account and lacks access to the Internet at the attorney’s office, the court may excuse the attorney from the requirements of e-mail service. Service on and by an attorney excused by the court from e-mail service must be by the means provided in subdivision (b)(2).
(C) Service on and by Parties Not Represented by an Attorney. Any party not represented by an attorney may serve a designation of a primary e-mail address and also may designate no more than two secondary e-mail addresses to which service must be directed in that proceeding by the means provided in subdivision (b)(1) of this rule. If a party not represented by an attorney does not designate an e-mail address for service in a proceeding, service on and by that party must be by the means provided in subdivision (b)(2).
(D) Time of Service. Service by e-mail is complete on the date it is sent.
(i) If, however, the e-mail is sent by the Portal or other e-Service system, service is complete on the date the served document is electronically filed.
(ii) If the person required to serve a document learns that the e-mail was not received by an intended recipient, the person must immediately resend the document to that intended recipient by e-mail, or by a means authorized by subdivision (b)(2) of this rule.
(iii) E-mail service, including e-Service, is treated as service by mail for the computation of time.

(E) Format of E-mail for Service. Service of a document by e-mail is made by an e-mail sent to all addresses designated by the attorney or party with either (a) a copy of the document in PDF format attached or (b) a link to the document on a website maintained by a clerk.
(i) All documents served by e-mail must be sent by an e-mail message containing a subject line beginning with the words “SERVICE OF COURT DOCUMENT” in all capital letters, followed by the case number and case style of the proceeding in which the documents are being served.
(ii) The body of the e-mail must identify the court in which the proceeding is pending, the case number, the name of the initial party on each side, the title of each document served with that e-mail, and the name and telephone number of the person required to serve the document.
(iii) Any document served by e-mail may be signed by any of the “/s/,” “/s,” or “s/” formats.
(iv) Any e-mail which, together with its attached documents, exceeds the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court, must be divided and sent as separate e-mails, no one of which may exceed the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court and each of which must be sequentially numbered in the subject line.


(2) Service by Other Means. In addition to, and not in lieu of, service by e-mail, service may also be made upon attorneys by any of the means specified in this subdivision. If a document is served by more than one method of service, the computation of time for any response to the served document shall be based on the method of service that provides the shortest response time. Service on and by all parties who are not represented by an attorney and who do not designate an e-mail address, and on and by all attorneys excused from e-mail service, must be made by delivering a copy of the document or by mailing it to the party or attorney at their last known address or, if no address is known, by noting the non-service in the certificate of service, and stating in the certificate of service that a copy of the served document may be obtained, on request, from the clerk of the court or from the party serving the document. Service by mail is complete upon mailing. Delivery of a copy within this rule is complete upon:
(A) handing it to the attorney or to the party,
(B) leaving it at the attorney’s or party’s office with a clerk or other person in charge thereof,
(C) if there is no one in charge, leaving it in a conspicuous place therein,
(D) if the office is closed or the person to be served has no office, leaving it at the person’s usual place of abode with some person of his or her family above 15 years of age and informing such person of the contents, or
(E) transmitting it by facsimile to the attorney’s or party’s office with a cover sheet containing the sender’s name, firm, address, telephone number, and facsimile number, and the number of pages transmitted. When service is made by facsimile, a copy must also be served by any other method permitted by this rule. Facsimile service occurs when transmission is complete.
(F) Service by delivery shall be deemed complete on the date of delivery.


(c) Service; Numerous Defendants. In actions when the parties are unusually numerous, the court may regulate the service contemplated by these rules on motion or on its own initiative in such manner as may be found to be just and reasonable.

(d) Filing. All documents must be filed with the court either before service or immediately thereafter, unless otherwise provided for by general law or other rules. If the original of any bond or other document required to be an original is not placed in the court file or deposited with the clerk, a certified copy must be so placed by the clerk.

(e) Filing Defined. The filing of documents with the court as required by these rules must be made by filing them with the clerk in accordance with rule 2.525, except that the judge may permit documents to be filed with the judge, in which event the judge must note the filing date before him or her on the documents and transmit them to the clerk. The date of filing is that shown on the face of the document by the judge’s notation or the clerk’s time stamp, whichever is earlier.

(f) Certificate of Service. When any attorney certifies in substance:

“I certify that the foregoing document has been furnished to [here insert name or names, addresses used for service, and mailing addresses] by [(e-mail) (delivery) (mail) (fax)] on ____ [date]____

Movant


the certificate is taken as prima facie proof of such service in compliance with this rule.

(g) Service by Clerk. When the clerk is required to serve notices and other documents, the clerk may do so by e-mail as provided in subdivision (b)(1) or by any other method permitted under subdivision (b)(2). Service by a clerk is not required to be by e-mail.

(h) Service of Orders.
(1) A copy of all orders or judgments must be transmitted by the court or under its direction to all parties at the time of entry of the order or judgment. No service need be made on parties against whom a default has been entered except orders setting an action for trial and final judgments that must be prepared and served as provided in subdivision (h)(2). The court may require that orders or judgments be prepared by a party, may require the party to furnish the court with stamped, addressed envelopes for service of the order or judgment, and may require that proposed orders and judgments be furnished to all parties before entry by the court of the order or judgment. The court may serve any order or judgment by e-mail to all attorneys who have not been excused from e-mail service and to all parties not represented by an attorney who have designated an e-mail address for service.
(2) When a final judgment is entered against a party in default, the court must mail a conformed copy of it to the party. The party in whose favor the judgment is entered must furnish the court with a copy of the judgment, unless it is prepared by the court, with the address of the party to be served. If the address is unknown, the copy need not be furnished.
(3) This subdivision is directory and a failure to comply with it does not affect the order or judgment, its finality, or any proceedings arising in the action.

RULE 2.520 | DOCUMENTS

(a) Electronic Filing Mandatory. All documents filed in any court shall be filed by electronic transmission in accordance with rule 2.525. “Documents” means pleadings, motions, petitions, memoranda, briefs, notices, exhibits, declarations, affidavits, orders, judgments, decrees, writs, opinions, and any paper or writing submitted to a court.

(b) Type and Size. Documents subject to the exceptions set forth in rule 2.525(d) shall be legibly typewritten or printed, on only one side of letter sized (8 1/2 by 11 inch) white recycled paper with one inch margins and consecutively numbered pages. For purposes of this rule, paper is recycled if it contains a minimum content of 50 percent waste paper. Reduction of legal-size (8 1/2 by 14 inches) documents to letter size (8 1/2 by 11 inches) is prohibited. All documents filed by electronic transmission shall comply with rule 2.526 and be filed in a format capable of being electronically searched and printed in a format consistent with the provisions of this rule.

(c) Exhibits. Any exhibit or attachment to any document may be filed in its original size.

(d) Recording Space and Space for Date and Time Stamps.
(1) On all documents prepared and filed by the court or by any party to a proceeding which are to be recorded in the public records of any county, including but not limited to final money judgments and notices of lis pendens, a 3-inch by 3-inch space at the top right-hand corner on the first page and a 1-inch by 3-inch space at the top right-hand corner on each subsequent page shall be left blank and reserved for use by the clerk of court.
(2) On all documents filed with the court, a 1-inch margin on all sides must be left blank for date and time stamps. (A) Format. Date and time stamp formats must include a single line detailing the name of the court or Portal and shall not include clerk seals. Date stamps must be 8 numerical digits separated by slashes with 2 digits for the month, 2 digits for the date, and 4 digits for the year. Time stamps must be formatted in 12 hour time frames with a.m. or p.m. included. The font size and type must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
(B) Location. The Portal stamp shall be on the top left of the document. The Florida Supreme Court and district courts of appeal stamps shall be on the left margin horizontally. Any administrative agency stamp shall be on the right margin horizontally. The clerk’s stamp for circuit and county courts shall be on the bottom of the document.
(C) Paper Filings. When a document is filed in paper as authorized by rule, the clerk may stamp the paper document in ink with the date and time of filing instead of, or in addition to, placing the electronic stamp as described in subdivision (B). The ink stamp on a paper document must be legible on the electronic version of the document, and must neither obscure the content or other date stamp, not occupy space otherwise reserved by subdivision (B).


(e) Exceptions to Recording Space. Any documents created by persons or entities over which the filing party has no control, including but not limited to wills, codicils, trusts, or other testamentary documents; documents prepared or executed by any public officer; documents prepared, executed, acknowledged, or proved outside of the State of Florida; or documents created by State or Federal government agencies, may be filed without the space required by this rule.

(f) Noncompliance. No clerk of court shall refuse to file any document because of noncompliance with this rule. However, upon request of the clerk of court, noncomplying documents shall be resubmitted in accordance with this rule.

Court Commentary

1989 Adoption. Rule 2.055 [renumbered as 2.520 in 2006] is new. This rule aligns Florida’s court system with the federal court system and the court systems of the majority of our sister states by requiring in subdivision (a) that all pleadings, motions, petitions, briefs, notices, orders, judgments, decrees, opinions, or other papers filed with any Florida court be submitted on paper measuring 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Subdivision (e) provides a 1-year transition period from the effective date of January 1, 1990, to January 1, 1991, during which time filings that traditionally have been accepted on legal-size paper will be accepted on either legal- or letter-size paper. The 1-year transition period was provided to allow for the depletion of inventories of legal-size paper and forms. The 1-year transition period was not intended to affect compliance with Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.210(a)(1), which requires that typewritten appellate briefs be filed on paper measuring 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Nor was it intended that the requirement of Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.210(a)(1) that printed briefs measure 6 by 9 inches be affected by the requirements of subdivision (a).
Subdivision (b), which recognizes an exception for exhibits or attachments, is intended to apply to documents such as wills and traffic citations which traditionally have not been generated on letter-size paper.
Subdivision (c) was adopted to ensure that a 1 1/2 inch square at the top right-hand corner of all filings is reserved for use by the clerk of court. Subdivision (d) was adopted to ensure that all papers and documents submitted for filing will be considered filed on the date of submission regardless of paper size. Subdivision (d) also ensures that after the 1-year transition period of subdivision (e), filings that are not in compliance with the rule are resubmitted on paper measuring 8 1/2 by 11 inches.
This rule is not intended to apply to those instruments and documents presented to the clerk of the circuit court for recording in the Official Records under section 28.222, Florida Statutes (1987). It is also not intended to apply to matters submitted to the clerk of the circuit court in the capacity as ex officio clerk of the board of county commissioners pursuant to article VIII, section (1)(d), Florida Constitution.
1996 Amendment. Subdivision (c) was amended to make the blank space requirements for use by the clerk of the court consistent with section 695.26, Florida Statutes (1995). Subdivision (e) was eliminated because the transition period for letter-size and recycled paper was no longer necessary.

RULE 2.525 | ELECTRONIC FILING

(a) Definition. “Electronic transmission of documents” means the sending of information by electronic signals to, by or from a court or clerk, which when received can be transformed and stored or transmitted on paper, microfilm, magnetic storage device, optical imaging system, CD-ROM, flash drive, other electronic data storage system, server, case maintenance system (“CM”), electronic court filing (“ECF”) system, statewide or local electronic portal (“e-portal”), or other electronic record keeping system authorized by the supreme court in a format sufficient to communicate the information on the original document in a readable format. Electronic transmission of documents includes electronic mail (“e-mail”) and any internet-based transmission procedure, and may include procedures allowing for documents to be signed or verified by electronic means.

(b) Application. Only the electronic filing credentials of an attorney who has signed a document may be used to file that document by electronic transmission. Any court or clerk may accept the electronic transmission of documents for filing and may send documents by electronic transmission after the clerk, together with input from the chief judge of the circuit, has obtained approval of procedures, programs, and standards for electronic filing from the supreme court (“ECF Procedures”). All ECF Procedures must comply with the then-current e-filing standards, as promulgated by the supreme court in Administrative Order No. AOSC09-30, or subsequent administrative order.

(c) Documents Affected.
(1) All documents that are court records, as defined in rule 2.430(a)(1), must be filed by electronic transmission provided that:
(A) the clerk has the ability to accept and retain such documents;
(B) the clerk or the chief judge of the circuit has requested permission to accept documents filed by electronic transmission; and
(C) the supreme court has entered an order granting permission to the clerk to accept documents filed by electronic transmission.

(2) The official court file is a set of electronic documents stored in a computer system maintained by the clerk, together with any supplemental non-electronic documents and materials authorized by this rule. It consists of:
(A) documents filed by electronic transmission under this rule;
(B) documents filed in paper form under subdivision (d) that have been converted to electronic form by the clerk;
(C) documents filed in paper form before the effective date of this rule that have been converted to electronic form by the clerk;
(D) documents filed in paper form before the effective date of this rule or under subdivision (d) , unless such documents are converted into electronic form by the clerk;
(E) electronic documents filed pursuant to subdivision (d)(5); and
(F) materials and documents filed pursuant to any rule, statute or court order that either cannot be converted into electronic form or are required to be maintained in paper form.

(3) The documents in the official court file are deemed originals for all purposes except as otherwise provided by statute or rule.
(4) Any document in paper form submitted under subdivision (d) is filed when it is received by the clerk or court and the clerk shall immediately thereafter convert any filed paper document to an electronic document. “Convert to an electronic document” means optically capturing an image of a paper document and using character recognition software to recover as much of the document’s text as practicable and then indexing and storing the document in the official court file.
(5) Any storage medium submitted under subdivision (d)(5) is filed when received by the clerk or court and the clerk shall immediately thereafter transfer the electronic documents from the storage device to the official court file.
(6) If the filer of any paper document authorized under subdivision (d) provides a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for return of the paper document after it is converted to electronic form by the clerk, the clerk shall place the paper document in the envelope and deposit it in the mail. Except when a paper document is required to be maintained, the clerk may recycle any filed paper document that is not to be returned to the filer.
(7) The clerk may convert any paper document filed before the effective date of this rule to an electronic document. Unless the clerk is required to maintain the paper document, if the paper document has been converted to an electronic document by the clerk, the paper document is no longer part of the official court file and may be removed and recycled.

(d) Exceptions. Paper documents and other submissions may be manually submitted to the clerk or court:
(1) when the clerk does not have the ability to accept and retain documents by electronic filing or has not had ECF Procedures approved by the supreme court;
(2) for filing by any self-represented party or any self-represented nonparty unless specific ECF Procedures provide a means to file documents electronically. However, any self-represented nonparty that is a governmental or public agency and any other agency, partnership, corporation, or business entity acting on behalf of any governmental or public agency may file documents by electronic transmission if such entity has the capability of filing document electronically;
(3) for filing by attorneys excused from e-mail service in accordance with rule 2.516(b);
(4) when submitting evidentiary exhibits or filing non-documentary materials;
(5) when the filing involves documents in excess of the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court. For such filings, documents may be transmitted using an electronic storage medium that the clerk has the ability to accept, which may include a CD-ROM, flash drive, or similar storage medium;
(6) when filed in open court, as permitted by the court;
(7) when paper filing is permitted by any approved statewide or local ECF procedures; and
(8) if any court determines that justice so requires.

(e) Service.
(1) Electronic transmission may be used by a court or clerk for the service of all orders of whatever nature, pursuant to rule 2.516(h), and for the service of any documents pursuant to any ECF Procedures, provided the clerk, together with input from the chief judge of the circuit, has obtained approval from the supreme court of ECF Procedures containing the specific procedures and program to be used in transmitting the orders and documents. All other requirements for the service of such orders must be met.
(2) Any document electronically transmitted to a court or clerk must also be served on all parties and interested persons in accordance with the applicable rules of court.

(f) Administration.
(1) Any clerk who, after obtaining supreme court approval, accepts for filing documents that have been electronically transmitted must:
(A) provide electronic or telephonic access to its equipment, whether through an e-portal or otherwise, during regular business hours, and all other times as practically feasible;
(B) accept electronic transmission of the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court; and
(C) accept filings in excess of the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court by electronic storage device or system, which may include a CD-ROM, flash drive, or similar storage system.

(2) All attorneys, parties, or other persons using this rule to file documents are required to make arrangements with the court or clerk for the payment of any charges authorized by general law or the supreme court before filing any document by electronic transmission.
(3) The filing date for an electronically transmitted document is the date and time that such filing is acknowledged by an electronic stamp or otherwise, pursuant to any procedure set forth in any ECF Procedures approved by the supreme court, or the date the last page of such filing is received by the court or clerk.
(4) Any court or clerk may extend the hours of access or increase the page or size limitations set forth in this subdivision.

(g) Accessibility. All documents transmitted in any electronic form under this rule must comply with the accessibility requirements of Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.526.

Court Commentary

1997 Amendment. Originally, the rule provided that the follow-up filing had to occur within ten days. In the 1997 amendment to the rule, that requirement was modified to provide that the follow-up filing must occur “immediately” after a document is electronically filed. The “immediately thereafter” language is consistent with language used in the rules of procedure where, in a somewhat analogous situation, the filing of a document may occur after service. See, e.g., Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.080(d) (“All original papers shall be filed with the court either before service or immediately thereafter.”) (emphasis added). “Immediately thereafter” has been interpreted to mean “filed with reasonable promptness.” Miami Transit Co. v. Ford, 155 So.2d 360 (Fla.1963).
The use of the words “other person” in this rule is not meant to allow a nonlawyer to sign and file pleadings or other papers on behalf of another. Such conduct would constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

RULE 2.526 | ACCESSIBILITY OF INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Any document that is or will become a judicial branch record, as defined in rule 2.420(b)(1), and that is transmitted in an electronic form, as defined in rule 2.525, must be formatted in a manner that complies with all state and federal laws requiring that electronic judicial records be accessible to persons with disabilities, including without limitation the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as incorporated into Florida law by section 282.603(1), Florida Statutes (2010), and any related federal or state regulations or administrative rules.

RULE 2.530 | COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT

(a) Definition. Communication equipment means a conference telephone or other electronic device that permits all those appearing or participating to hear and speak to each other, provided that all conversation of all parties is audible to all persons present.

(b) Use by All Parties. A county or circuit court judge may, upon the court’s own motion or upon the written request of a party, direct that communication equipment be used for a motion hearing, pretrial conference, or a status conference. A judge must give notice to the parties and consider any objections they may have to the use of communication equipment before directing that communication equipment be used. The decision to use communication equipment over the objection of parties will be in the sound discretion of the trial court, except as noted below.

(c) Use Only by Requesting Party. A county or circuit court judge may, upon the written request of a party upon reasonable notice to all other parties, permit a requesting party to participate through communication equipment in a scheduled motion hearing; however, any such request (except in criminal, juvenile, and appellate proceedings) must be granted, absent a showing of good cause to deny the same, where the hearing is set for not longer than 15 minutes.

(d) Testimony.
(1) Generally. A county or circuit court judge, general magistrate, special magistrate, or hearing officer may allow testimony to be taken through communication equipment if all parties consent or if permitted by another applicable rule of procedure.
(2) Procedure. Any party desiring to present testimony through communication equipment shall, prior to the hearing or trial at which the testimony is to be presented, contact all parties to determine whether each party consents to this form of testimony. The party seeking to present the testimony shall move for permission to present testimony through communication equipment, which motion shall set forth good cause as to why the testimony should be allowed in this form.
(3) Oath. Testimony may be taken through communication equipment only if a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths in the witness’s jurisdiction is present with the witness and administers the oath consistent with the laws of the jurisdiction.
(4) Confrontation Rights. In juvenile and criminal proceedings the defendant must make an informed waiver of any confrontation rights that may be abridged by the use of communication equipment.
(5) Video Testimony. If the testimony to be presented utilizes video conferencing or comparable two-way visual capabilities, the court in its discretion may modify the procedures set forth in this rule to accommodate the technology utilized.

(e) Burden of Expense. The cost for the use of the communication equipment is the responsibility of the requesting party unless otherwise directed by the court.

(f) Override of Family Violence Indicator. Communications equipment may be used for a hearing on a petition to override a family violence indicator under Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.650.

RULE 2.535 | COURT REPORTING

(a) Definitions.
(1) “Approved court reporter” means a court employee or contractor who performs court reporting services, including transcription, at public expense and who meets the court’s certification, training, and other qualifications for court reporting.
(2) “Approved transcriptionist” means a court employee, contractor, or other individual who performs transcription services at public expense and who meets the court’s certification, training, and other qualifications for transcribing proceedings.
(3) “Civil court reporter” means a court reporter who performs court reporting services in civil proceedings not required to be reported at public expense, and who meets the court’s certification, training, and other qualifications for court reporting.
(4) “Court reporting” means the act of making a verbatim record of the spoken word, whether by the use of written symbols, stenomask equipment, stenographic equipment, or electronic devices, in any proceedings pending in any of the courts of this state, including all discovery proceedings conducted in connection therewith, any proceedings reported for the court’s own use, and all proceedings required by statute to be reported by an approved court reporter or civil court reporter. It does not mean the act of taking witness statements not intended for use in court as substantive evidence.
(5) “Electronic record” means the audio, analog, digital, or video record of a court proceeding.
(6) “Official record” means the transcript, which is the written or electronically stored record of court proceedings and depositions prepared in accordance with the requirements of subdivision (f).

(b) When Court Reporting Required. Any proceeding shall be reported on the request of any party. The party so requesting shall pay the reporting fees, but this requirement shall not preclude the taxation of costs as authorized by law.

(c) Record. When trial proceedings are being reported, no part of the proceedings shall be omitted unless all of the parties agree to do so and the court approves the agreement. When a deposition is being reported, no part of the proceedings shall be omitted unless all of the parties and the witness so agree. When a party or a witness seeks to terminate or suspend the taking of a deposition for the time necessary to seek a court order, the court reporter shall discontinue reporting the testimony of the witness.

(d) Ownership of Records. The chief judge of the circuit in which a proceeding is pending, in his or her official capacity, is the owner of all records and electronic records made by an official court reporter or quasi-judicial officer in proceedings required to be reported at public expense and proceedings reported for the court’s own use.

(e) Fees. The chief judge shall have the discretion to adopt an administrative order establishing maximum fees for court reporting services. Any such order must make a specific factual finding that the setting of such maximum fees is necessary to ensure access to the courts. Such finding shall include consideration of the number of court reporters in the county or circuit, any past history of fee schedules, and any other relevant factors.

(f) Transcripts. Transcripts of all judicial proceedings, including depositions, shall be uniform in and for all courts throughout the state and shall be stored in an electronic format sufficient to communicate the information contained in proceedings in a readable format, and capable of being transmitted electronically as set forth in rule 2.525. Any transcripts stored in electronic form must be capable of being printed in accordance with this rule. The form, size, spacing, and method of printing transcripts are as follows:
(1) All proceedings shall be printed on paper 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches in size and bound on the left.
(2) There shall be no fewer than 25 printed lines per page with all lines numbered 1 through 25, respectively, and with no more than a double space between lines.
(3) Font size or print shall be 9 or 10 pica, 12-point courier, or 12-point Times New Roman print with no less than 56 characters per line on questions and answers unless the text of the speaker ends short of marginal requirements.
(4) Colloquy material shall begin on the same line following the identification of the speaker, with no more than 2 spaces between the identification of the speaker and the commencement of the colloquy. The identification of the speaker in colloquy shall begin no more than 10 spaces from the left margin, and carry-over colloquy shall be indented no more than 5 spaces from the left margin.
(5) Each question and answer shall begin on a separate line no more than 5 spaces from the left margin with no more than 5 spaces from the “Q” or “A” to the text. Carry-over question and answer lines shall be brought to the left margin.
(6) Quoted material shall begin no more than 10 spaces from the left margin with carry-over lines beginning no more than 10 spaces from the left margin.
(7) Indentations of no more than 10 spaces may be used for paragraphs, and all spaces on a line as herein provided shall be used unless the text of the speaker ends short of marginal requirements.
(8) One-line parentheticals may begin at any indentation. Parentheticals exceeding 1 line shall begin no more than 10 spaces from the left margin, with carry-over lines being returned to the left margin.
(9) Individual volumes of a transcript, including depositions, shall be no more than 200 pages in length, inclusive of the index.
(10) Deviation from these standards shall not constitute grounds for limiting use of transcripts in the trial or appellate courts.

(g) Officers of the Court. Approved court reporters, civil court reporters, and approved transcriptionists are officers of the court for all purposes while acting as court reporters in judicial proceedings or discovery proceedings or as transcriptionists. Approved court reporters, civil court reporters, and approved transcriptionists shall comply with all rules and statutes governing the proceeding that are applicable to court reporters and approved transcriptionists.

(h) Court Reporting Services at Public Expense.
(1) When Reporting Is Required. All proceedings required by law, court rule, or administrative order to be reported shall be reported at public expense.
(2) When Reporting May Be Required. Proceedings reported for the court’s own use may be reported at public expense.
(3) Circuit Plan. The chief judge, after consultation with the circuit court and county court judges in the circuit, shall enter an administrative order developing and implementing a circuit-wide plan for the court reporting of all proceedings required to be reported at public expense using either full or part time court employees or independent contractors. The plan shall ensure that all court reporting services are provided by approved court reporters or approved transcriptionists. This plan may provide for multiple service delivery strategies if they are necessary to ensure the efficient provision of court reporting services. Each circuit’s plan for court reporting services shall be developed after consideration of guidelines issued by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.
(4) Electronic Recording and Transcription of Proceedings Without Court Reporters. A chief judge may enter a circuit-wide administrative order, which shall be recorded, authorizing the electronic recording and subsequent transcription by approved court reporters or approved transcriptionists, of any judicial proceedings, including depositions, that are otherwise required to be reported by a court reporter. Appropriate procedures shall be prescribed in the order which shall:
(A) set forth responsibilities for the court’s support personnel to ensure a reliable record of the proceedings;
(B) provide a means to have the recording transcribed by approved court reporters or approved transcriptionists, either in whole or in part, when necessary for an appeal or for further use in the trial court; and
(C) provide for the safekeeping of such recordings.

(5) Safeguarding Confidential Communications When Electronic Recording Equipment Is Used in the Courtroom.
(A) Court personnel shall provide notice to participants in a courtroom proceeding that electronic recording equipment is in use and that they should safeguard information they do not want recorded.
(B) Attorneys shall take all reasonable and available precautions to protect disclosure of confidential communications in the courtroom. Such precautions may include muting microphones or going to a designated location that is inaccessible to the recording equipment.
(C) Participants have a duty to protect confidential information.

(6) Grand Jury Proceedings. Testimony in grand jury proceedings shall be reported by an approved court reporter, but shall not be transcribed unless required by order of court. Other parts of grand jury proceedings, including deliberations and voting, shall not be reported. The approved court reporter’s work product, including stenographic notes, electronic recordings, and transcripts, shall be filed with the clerk of the court under seal.

(i) Court Reporting Services in Capital Cases. The chief judge, after consultation with the circuit court judges in the circuit, shall enter an administrative order developing and implementing a circuit-wide plan for court reporting in all trials in which the state seeks the death penalty and in capital postconviction proceedings. The plan shall prohibit the use of digital court reporting as the court reporting system and shall require the use of all measures necessary to expedite the preparation of the transcript, including but not limited to:
(1) where available, the use of an approved court reporter who has the capacity to provide real-time transcription of the proceedings;
(2) if real-time transcription services are not available, the use of a computer-aided transcription qualified court reporter;
(3) the use of scopists, text editors, alternating court reporters, or other means to expedite the finalization of the certified transcript; and
(4) the imposition of reasonable restrictions on work assignments by employee or contract approved court reporters to ensure that transcript production in capital cases is given a priority.

(j) Juvenile Dependency and Termination of Parental Rights Cases. Transcription of hearings for appeals of orders in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases shall be given priority, consistent with rule 2.215(g), over transcription of all other proceedings, unless otherwise ordered by the court based upon a demonstrated exigency.

Committee Notes

The definitions of “electronic record” in subdivision (a)(5) and of “official record” in subdivision (a)(6) are intended to clarify that when a court proceeding is electronically recorded by means of audio, analog, digital, or video equipment, and is also recorded via a written transcript prepared by a court reporter, the written transcript shall be the “official record” of the proceeding to the exclusion of all electronic records. While the term “record” is used within Rule 2.535 and within Fla. R. App. P. 9.200, it has a different meaning within the unique context of each rule. Accordingly, the meaning of the term “record” as defined for purposes of this rule does not in any way alter, amend, change, or conflict with the meaning of the term “record” as defined for appellate purposes in Fla. R. App. P. 9.200(a).

RULE 2.540 | REQUESTS FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

(a) Duties of Court. Qualified individuals with a disability will be provided, at the court’s expense, with accommodations, reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, in order to participate in programs or activities provided by the courts of this state. The court may deny a request only in accordance with subdivision (e).

(b) Definitions. The definitions encompassed in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., are incorporated into this rule.

(c) Notice Requirement.

(1) All notices of court proceedings to be held in a public facility, and all process compelling appearance at such proceedings, shall include the following statement in bold face, 14-point Times New Roman or Courier font:
“If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact [identify applicable court personnel by name, address, and telephone number] at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving this notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711.” (2) Each trial and appellate court shall post on its respective website and in each court facility the procedures for obtaining an accommodation as well as the grievance procedure adopted by that court.

(d) Process for Requesting Accommodations. The process for requesting accommodations is as follows:
(1) Requests for accommodations under this rule may be presented on a form approved or substantially similar to one approved by the Office of the State Courts Administrator, in another written format, or orally. Requests must be forwarded to the ADA coordinator, or designee, within the time frame provided in subdivision (d)(3).
(2) Requests for accommodations must include a description of the accommodation sought, along with a statement of the impairment that necessitates the accommodation and the duration that the accommodation is to be provided. The court, in its discretion, may require the individual with a disability to provide additional information about the impairment. Requests for accommodation shall not include any information regarding the merits of the case.
(3) Requests for accommodations must be made at least 7 days before the scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving notification if the time before the scheduled court appearance is less than 7 days. The court may, in its discretion, waive this requirement.

(e) Response to Accommodation Request. The court must respond to a request for accommodation as follows:
(1) The court must consider, but is not limited by, the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in determining whether to provide an accommodation or an appropriate alternative accommodation.
(2) The court must inform the individual with a disability of the following:
(3) If the court determines that a person is a qualified person with a disability and an accommodation is needed, a request for accommodation may be denied only when the court determines that the requested accommodation would create an undue financial or administrative burden on the court or would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.

(f) Grievance Procedure.
(1) Each judicial circuit and appellate court shall establish and publish grievance procedures that allow for the resolution of complaints. Those procedures may be used by anyone who wishes to file a complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of services, activities, programs, or benefits by the Florida State Courts System.
(2) If such grievance involves a matter that may affect the orderly administration of justice, it is within the discretion of the presiding judge to stay the proceeding and seek expedited resolution of the grievance.

RULE 2.545 | CASE MANAGEMENT

(a) Purpose. Judges and lawyers have a professional obligation to conclude litigation as soon as it is reasonably and justly possible to do so. However, parties and counsel shall be afforded a reasonable time to prepare and present their case.

(b) Case Control. The trial judge shall take charge of all cases at an early stage in the litigation and shall control the progress of the case thereafter until the case is determined. The trial judge shall take specific steps to monitor and control the pace of litigation, including the following:
(1) assuming early and continuous control of the court calendar;
(2) identifying priority cases as assigned by statute, rule of procedure, case law, or otherwise;
(3) implementing such docket control policies as may be necessary to advance priority cases to ensure prompt resolution;
(4) identifying cases subject to alternative dispute resolution processes;
(5) developing rational and effective trial setting policies; and
(6) advancing the trial setting of priority cases, older cases, and cases of greater urgency.

(c) Priority Cases.
(1) In all noncriminal cases assigned a priority status by statute, rule of procedure, case law, or otherwise, any party may file a notice of priority status explaining the nature of the case, the source of the priority status, any deadlines imposed by law on any aspect of the case, and any unusual factors that may bear on meeting the imposed deadlines.
(2) If, in any noncriminal case assigned a priority status by statute, rule of procedure, case law, or otherwise, a party is of the good faith opinion that the case has not been appropriately advanced on the docket or has not received priority in scheduling consistent with its priority case status, that party may seek review of such action by motion for review to the chief judge or to the chief judge’s designee. The filing of such a motion for review will not toll the time for seeking such other relief as may be afforded by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(d) Related Cases.
(1) The petitioner in a family case as defined in this rule shall file with the court a notice of related cases in conformity with family law form 12.900(h), if related cases are known or reasonably ascertainable. A case is related when:
(A) it involves any of the same parties, children, or issues and it is pending at the time the party files a family case; or
(B) it affects the court’s jurisdiction to proceed; or
(C) an order in the related case may conflict with an order on the same issues in the new case; or
(D) an order in the new case may conflict with an order in the earlier litigation.

(2) “Family cases” include dissolution of marriage, annulment, support unconnected with dissolution of marriage, paternity, child support, UIFSA, custodial care of and access to children, proceedings for temporary or concurrent custody of minor children by extended family, adoption, name change, declaratory judgment actions related to premarital, martial [marital], or postmarital agreements, civil domestic, repeat violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual violence injunctions, juvenile dependency, termination of parental rights, juvenile delinquency, emancipation of a minor, CINS/FINS, truancy, and modification and enforcement of orders entered in these cases.
(3) The notice of related cases shall identify the caption and case number of the related case, contain a brief statement of the relationship of the actions, and contain a statement addressing whether assignment to one judge or another method of coordination will conserve judicial resources and promote an efficient determination of the actions.
(4) The notice of related cases shall be filed with the initial pleading by the filing attorney or self-represented petitioner. The notice shall be filed in each of the related cases that are currently open and pending with the court and served on all other parties in each of the related cases, and as may be directed by the chief judge or designee. Parties may file joint notices. A notice of related cases filed pursuant to this rule is not an appearance. If any related case is confidential and exempt from public access by law, then a Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing as required by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420 shall accompany the notice. Parties shall file supplemental notices as related cases become known or reasonably ascertainable.
(5) Each party has a continuing duty to inform the court of any proceedings in this or any other state that could affect the current proceeding.
(6) Whenever it appears to a party that two or more pending cases present common issues of fact and that assignment to one judge or another method of coordination will significantly promote the efficient administration of justice, conserve judicial resources, avoid inconsistent results, or prevent multiple court appearances by the same parties on the same issues, the party may file a notice of related cases requesting coordination of the litigation.

(e) Continuances. All judges shall apply a firm continuance policy. Continuances should be few, good cause should be required, and all requests should be heard and resolved by a judge. All motions for continuance shall be in writing unless made at a trial and, except for good cause shown, shall be signed by the party requesting the continuance. All motions for continuance in priority cases shall clearly identify such priority status and explain what effect the motion will have on the progress of the case.

Committee Notes

The provisions in subdivision (c) of this rule governing priority cases should be read in conjunction with the provisions of rule 2.215(g), governing the duty to expedite priority cases.

RULE 2.550 | CALENDAR CONFLICTS

(a) Guidelines. In resolving calendar conflicts between the state courts of Florida or between a state court and a federal court in Florida, the following guidelines must be considered:
(1) Any case priority status established by statute, rule of procedure, case law, or otherwise shall be evaluated to determine the effect that resolving a calendar conflict might have on the priority case or cases.
(2) Juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases are generally to be given preference over other cases, except for speedy trial and capital cases.
(3) Criminal cases are generally to be given preference over civil cases.
(4) Jury trials are generally to be given preference over non-jury trials.
(5) Appellate arguments, hearings, and conferences are generally to be given preference over trial court proceedings.
(6) The case in which the trial date has been first set generally should take precedence.

(b) Additional Circumstances. Factors such as cost, numbers of witnesses and attorneys involved, travel, length of trial, age of case, and other relevant matters may warrant deviation from these case guidelines.

(c) Notice and Agreement; Resolution by Judges. When an attorney is scheduled to appear in 2 courts at the same time and cannot arrange for other counsel to represent the clients’ interests, the attorney shall give prompt written notice of the conflict to opposing counsel, the clerk of each court, and the presiding judge of each case, if known. If the presiding judge of the case cannot be identified, written notice of the conflict shall be given to the chief judge of the court having jurisdiction over the case, or to the chief judge’s designee. The judges or their designees shall confer and undertake to avoid the conflict by agreement among themselves. Absent agreement, conflicts should be promptly resolved by the judges or their designees in accordance with the above case guidelines.

Committee Notes

1996 Adoption.The adoption of this rule was prompted by the Resolution of the Florida State-Federal Judicial Council Regarding Calendar Conflicts Between State and Federal Courts, which states as follows:
WHEREAS, the great volume of cases filed in the state and federal courts of Florida creates calendar conflicts between the state and federal courts of Florida which should be resolved in a fair, efficient and orderly manner to allow for judicial efficiency and economy; and
WHEREAS, the Florida State-Federal Judicial Council which represents the Bench and Bar of the State of Florida believes that it would be beneficial to formally agree upon and publish recommended procedures and priorities for resolving calendar conflicts between the state and federal courts of Florida;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED
In resolving calendar conflicts between the state and federal courts of Florida, the following case priorities should be considered:
1. Criminal cases should prevail over civil cases.
2. Jury trials should prevail over non-jury trials.
3. Appellate arguments, hearings, and conferences should prevail over trials.
4. The case in which the trial date has been first set should take precedence.
5. Circumstances such as cost, numbers of witnesses and attorneys involved, travel, length of trial, age of case and other relevant matters may warrant deviation from this policy. Such matters are encouraged to be resolved through communication between the courts involved.
Where an attorney is scheduled to appear in two courts — trial or appellate, state or federal — at the same time and cannot arrange for other counsel in his or her firm or in the case to represent his or her client’s interest, the attorney shall give prompt written notice to opposing counsel, the clerk of each court, and the presiding judge of each case, if known, of the conflict. If the presiding judge of a case cannot be identified, written notice of the conflict shall be given to the chief judge of the court having jurisdiction over the case, or to his or her designee. The judges or their designees shall confer and undertake to avoid the conflict by agreement among themselves. Absent agreement, conflicts should be promptly resolved by the judges or their designees in accordance with the above case priorities.
In jurisdictions where calendar conflicts arise with frequency, it is recommended that each court involved consider appointing a calendar conflict coordinator to assist the judges in resolving calendar conflicts by obtaining information regarding the conflicts and performing such other ministerial duties as directed by the judges.
REVISED AND READOPTED at Miami, Florida, this 13th day of January, 1995

Court Commentary

2002 Court Commentary. As provided in subdivision (c), when a scheduling conflict involves different courts, the presiding judges should confer and undertake to agree on a resolution, using the guidelines provided in this rule.

RULE 2.555 | INITIATION OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

(a) Major Statutory Offense. Law enforcement officers, at the time of the filing of a complaint with the clerk of court, shall designate whether the most serious charge on the complaint is a felony or a misdemeanor. The state attorney or the state attorney’s designee, at the time of the filing of an original information or an original indictment with the clerk of court, shall designate whether the most serious offense on the information or the indictment is a felony or misdemeanor. Complaints, original informations, and original indictments on which the most serious charge is a felony shall be filed with the clerk of the circuit court.

(b) Ordinance Violations. In cases when the state attorney has the responsibility for the prosecution of county or municipal ordinance violations, where such ordinances have state statutory equivalents, the state attorney or the state attorney’s designee shall set forth at the top of the face of the accusatory instrument the exact statute number of the single most serious offense charged.

(c) Information or Indictment after County Court Proceedings Begun. When action in a criminal case has been initiated in county court, and subsequently the state attorney files a direct information or the grand jury indicts the defendant, the state attorney or the state attorney’s designee shall notify the clerk without delay.

RULE 2.560 | APPOINTMENT OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE COURT INTERPRETERS FOR NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING AND LIMITED-ENGLISH-PROFICIENT PERSONS

(a) Criminal or Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings. In any criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding in which the accused, the parent or legal guardian of the accursed juvenile, the victim, or the alleged victim cannot understand or has limited understanding of English, or cannot express himself or herself in English sufficiently to be understood, an interpreter shall be appointed.

(b) Other Proceedings. In all other proceedings in which a non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient person is a litigant, an interpreter for the non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient litigant shall be appointed if the court determines that the litigant’s inability to comprehend English deprives the litigant of an understanding of the court proceedings, that a fundamental interest is at stake (such as in a civil commitment, termination of parental rights, paternity, or dependency proceeding), and that no alternative to the appointment of an interpreter exists.

(c) Witnesses. In any proceeding in which a non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient person is a witness, the appointment of an interpreter shall be governed by the applicable provisions of the Florida Evidence Code.

(d) Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In making determinations regarding the appointment of an interpreter, the court should ensure compliance with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

(e) Qualifications of Interpreter.
(1) Appointment of Interpreters When Certified or Other Duly Qualified Interpreters Are Available. Whenever possible, a certified or other duly qualified interpreter, as defined in the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters, shall be appointed. Preference shall be given to appointment of certified and language skilled interpreters, then to persons holding a provisionally approved designation.
(2) Appointment of Interpreters When Certified or Other Duly Qualified Interpreters Are Unavailable. If, after diligent search, a certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved interpreter is not available, the presiding judge, magistrate, or hearing officer, finding good cause, may appoint an interpreter who is otherwise registered with the Office of the State Courts Administrator in accordance with the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters. No appointment shall be made under this subdivision unless the presiding judge, magistrate, or hearing officer makes a determination, on the record, the proposed interpreter is competent to interpret in the proceedings.
(3) Appointment in Exceptional Circumstances. If after diligent search no interpreter qualifying under subdivision (e)(1) or (e)(2) of this rule is available at the time interpreter services are needed, the presiding judge, magistrate, or hearing officer, finding good cause exists for the appointment of an interpreter not qualifying under subdivision (e)(1) or (e)(2), such as the prevention of burdensome delay, the request or consent of the non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient person, or other unusual circumstance, may appoint an interpreter who is not certified, language skilled, provisionally approved, or otherwise registered with the Office of the State Courts Administrator. No appointment, including appointment of interpreters available via remote technology, shall be made under this subdivision unless the presiding judge, magistrate, or hearing officer finds the proposed interpreter is competent to interpret in the proceedings. This finding must be made on the record based, not only on the unavailability of an interpreter otherwise qualified in a particular language, but also on specific exigent circumstances given the demands of the case and the interpreter’s sworn assertion he or she is able, either in direct or relay/intermediary interpretation, to communicate effectively in the languages in which interpreter services are required. An appointment under this subdivision shall excuse an interpreter so appointed from the registration requirements under the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters, but only for the delivery of the specific services for which the interpreter is appointed.
(4) On-the-Record Objections or Waivers in Criminal and Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings. In any criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding in which the interpreter is not appointed under subdivision (e)(1) of this rule, the court shall advise the accused, on the record, that the proposed interpreter is not certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved pursuant to the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters. The accused’s objection to the appointment of a proposed interpreter, or the accused’s waiver of the appointment of a certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved interpreter, shall also be on the record.
(5) Additional on-the-Record Findings, Objections, and Waivers Required at Subsequent Proceedings. The appointment of an interpreter who is not certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved in accordance with the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters shall be limited to a specific proceeding and shall not be extended to subsequent proceedings in a case without additional findings of good cause and qualification as required by subdivisions (e)(2) and (e)(3) of this rule, and additional compliance with the procedures for on-the-record objections or waivers provided for in subdivision (e)(4) of this rule.

(f) Privileged Communications. Whenever a person communicates through an interpreter to any person under circumstances that would render the communication privileged and such person could not be compelled to testify as to the communication, the privilege shall also apply to the interpreter.

(g) Definitions. When used in this rule, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth below: (1) Limited-English-Proficient Person. A person who is unable to communicate effectively in English because the individual’s primary language is not English and he or she has not developed fluency in the English language. A person with limited English proficiency may have difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English.
(2) Proceeding. Any hearing or trial, excluding an administrative hearing or trial, presided over by a judge, general magistrate, special magistrate, or hearing officer within the state courts.

RULE 2.565 | RETENTION OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE COURT INTERPRETERS FOR NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING AND LIMITED-ENGLISH-PROFICIENT PERSONS BY ATTORNEYS OR SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS

(a) Retention of Interpreters when Certified or Other Duly Qualified Interpreters Are Available. When an attorney or self-represented litigant retains the services of an interpreter to assist a non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient litigant or witness in a court proceeding or court-related proceeding as defined in the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters, the attorney or self-represented litigant shall, whenever possible, retain a certified, language skilled or provisionally approved interpreter, as defined in the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters. Preference shall be given to retention of certified and language skilled interpreters, then to persons holding a provisionally approved designation.

(b) Retention of Interpreters when Certified or Other Duly Qualified Interpreters Are Unavailable. If, after diligent search, a certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved interpreter is not available, an attorney or self-represented litigant may retain an interpreter who is otherwise registered with the Office of the State Courts Administrator in accordance with the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters.

(c) Retention in Exceptional Circumstances. If, after diligent search, no interpreter qualifying under subdivision (a) or (b) of this rule is available, an attorney or self-represented litigant, for good cause, may retain an interpreter who is not certified, language skilled, provisionally approved, or otherwise registered with the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

(d) Written Declaration Substantiating Good Cause. No interpreter shall be retained under subdivision (c) unless the attorney or a self-represented litigant states under oath or affirms in a verified writing that:
(1) a diligent search has been conducted;
(2) neither a certified, language skilled, provisionally approved interpreter nor an interpreter otherwise registered with the Office of the State Courts Administrator is available to interpret in person or via remote technology; and
(3) to the best of the attorney or self-represented litigant’s information and belief, the proposed interpreter is competent to interpret. In addition, the written declaration shall include the full name, mailing address, and telephone number of the proposed interpreter; the non-English language interpreted; the date of the interpreted event; and nature of the interpreted event.

(e) Filing and Retention of Written Declaration. An attorney or self-represented litigant substantiating good cause under subdivision (d) shall submit via e-mail, a copy of the verified written declaration with the Court Interpreter Program Office in the Office of the State Courts Administrator. A prescribed form and dedicated e-mail address appear on the Court’s website. The filer shall thereafter furnish a copy to the proposed interpreter, and shall:
(1) file the original declaration in any pending court action or administrative action and serve a copy thereof on all other parties; or
(2) if no action is pending at the time interpreter services are provided, retain the original declaration and serve a copy thereof on the non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient person at the time interpreter services are provided. The declaration shall be made available to all other parties and to any state court or administrative judge, magistrate, or hearing officer upon request in any action later filed to which the interpreted event is relevant. The filing with the Office of the State Courts Administrator of a written declaration in substantial conformity with this subdivision shall excuse the proposed interpreter from the registration requirements under the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Interpreters for the delivery of the specific interpreter services for which certification is made.

(f) Time for Preparation, Submission, Filing, and Service. Verified written declarations required by this rule shall be prepared, submitted to the Office of State Courts Administrator, filed with the Clerk of Court, when required, and served on all parties in advance of the proceedings to which they are relevant. When compliance with this subdivision is impossible or impracticable due to the existence of emergency or other extraordinary circumstances, the attorney or self-represented litigant shall:
(1) comply with the preparation, submission, filing, and service requirements of this rule as soon as is practicable following the conclusion of the proceeding; and
(2) include in the verified written declaration a brief statement describing the emergency or other extraordinary circumstances justifying post-proceeding compliance.

RULE 2.570 | [REPEALED] STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS

REPEALED! (a) Use; Modification. The standard jury instructions appearing on the supreme court’s website at https://jury.flcourts.org may be used by trial judges in instructing the jury in every trial to the extent that the instructions are applicable, unless the trial judge determines that an applicable standard jury instruction is erroneous or inadequate, in which event the judge shall modify the standard instruction or give such other instruction as the trial judge determines to be necessary to instruct the jury accurately and sufficiently on the circumstances of the case. If the trial judge modifies a standard jury instruction or gives another instruction, upon timely objection to the instruction, the trial judge shall state on the record or in a separate order the respect in which the judge finds the standard instruction erroneous or inadequate and the legal basis for varying from the standard instruction. Similarly, in all circumstances in which the comments or notes on use accompanying the standard jury instructions contain a recommendation that a certain type of instruction not be given, the trial judge may follow the recommendation unless the judge determines that the giving of such an instruction is necessary to instruct the jury accurately and sufficiently, in which event the judge shall give such instruction as the judge deems appropriate and necessary. If the trial judge does not follow such a recommendation, upon timely objection to the instruction, the trial judge shall state on the record or in a separate order the legal basis of the determination that the instruction is necessary.

(b) Referral to Committee. The party requesting and receiving a modified instruction shall send a copy of the modified instruction to the appropriate committee on standard jury instructions under rule 2.270, so that the committee can consider the modification to determine whether the standard instruction should be amended.

(c) No Supreme Court Approval or Presumption of Correctness. The standard jury instructions approved for publication and use under rule 2.270 are not approved or otherwise specifically authorized for use by the supreme court. The approval of a standard jury instruction under that rule shall not be construed as an adjudicative determination on the legal correctness of the instruction. Standard instructions authorized for use by the supreme court prior to the adoption of rule 2.270 shall be treated the same as and given no more deference than instructions approved for use under that rule.

Congratulations! You're now booked up on Part V(B) of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration (Fla. R. Jud. Admin.)!

Please get the justice you deserve.

Sincerely,



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