Monday, December 2, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
(a) Issuance and Recall of Mandate. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or provided by these rules, the clerk shall issue such mandate or process as may be directed by the court after expiration of 15 days from the date of an order or decision. A copy thereof, or notice of its issuance, shall be served on all parties. The court may direct the clerk to recall the mandate, but not more than 120 days after its issuance.
(5) Issuance and Recall of Mandate; Recordation and Notification. The clerk shall issue such mandates or process as may be directed by the court. If, within 120 days after a mandate has been issued, the court directs that a mandate be recalled, then the clerk shall recall the mandate. Upon the issuance or recall of any mandate, the clerk shall record the issuance or recall in a book or equivalent electronic record kept for that purpose, in which the date of issuance or date of recall and the manner of transmittal of the process shall be noted. In proceedings in which no mandate is issued, upon final adjudication of the pending cause the clerk shall transmit to the party affected thereby a copy of the court’s order or judgment. The clerk shall notify the attorneys of record of the issuance of any mandate, the recall of any mandate, or the rendition of any final judgment. The clerk shall furnish without charge to all attorneys of record in any cause a copy of any order or written opinion rendered in such action.
(4) Issuance and Recall of Mandate; Recordation and Notification. The clerk shall issue such mandates or process as may be directed by the court. If, within 120 days after a mandate has been issued, the court directs that a mandate be recalled, then the clerk shall recall the mandate. If the court directs that a mandate record shall be maintained, then upon the issuance or recall of any mandate the clerk shall record the issuance or recall in a book or equivalent electronic record kept for that purpose, in which shall be noted the date of issuance or the date of recall and the manner of transmittal of the process. In proceedings in which no mandate is issued, upon final adjudication of the pending cause the clerk shall transmit to the party affected thereby a copy of the court’s order or judgment. The clerk shall notify the attorneys of record of the issuance of any mandate, the recall of any mandate, or the rendition of any final judgment. The clerk shall furnish without charge to all attorneys of record in any cause a copy of any order or written opinion rendered in such action.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Court Must Only Rule Upon Issues Presented And Party Is Entitled To Notice Of All Issues To Be Considered
In modification proceedings, as in other civil matters, courts are not authorized to award relief not requested in the pleadings. To grant unrequested relief is an abuse of discretion and reversible error.” Abbott v. Abbott, 98 So. 3d 616, 617-18 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012) (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Additionally, a court should not grant such relief absent proper notice to the parties. Sinton v. Sinton, 749 So. 2d 532, 533 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999).
Friday, October 25, 2013
We affirm but point out that the dismissal with prejudice of PNC Bank’s foreclosure action against the Neals does not preclude PNC Bank from instituting a new foreclosure action based on a different act or a new date of default not alleged in the dismissed action. See Star Funding Solutions, LLC v. Krondes, 101 So. 3d 403 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) (citing Singleton v. Greymar Assocs., 882 So. 2d 1004, 1005 (Fla. 2004)).
Arbitration Agreement That Provides For Fees To Prevailing Party, Contrary To The FLSA, Is Unenforceable
Here, Hernandez brought suit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Florida Workers' Compensation Law. The federal act states that a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees, but it does not allow for prevailing party fees for the defendant. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The instant arbitration agreement, however, states that whichever party prevails "shall be entitled to reimbursement for its share of costs and reasonable attorneys' fees." Accordingly, should the arbitrator declare Colonial the prevailing party, Hernandez would be obligated under the arbitration agreement to pay Colonial's attorney's fees. This renders the potential cost of arbitration to be far greater to Hernandez than the potential cost of civil litigation, which under no circumstances would include Colonial's attorney’s fees. As such, while the parties' agreement may not contravene any of Hernandez’s rights under the federal act, it does expose him to a potential liability to which he would not be exposed if the litigation occurred in civil court because the federal statute specifically protects him from such liability.
On May 31, 2005, Ms. Bednarek executed a note and mortgage in favor of American Brokers Conduit for the purchase of real property. Thereafter, the loan was sold to Deutsche Bank. On March 30, 2006, American Brokers Conduit assigned the mortgage to the bank's servicing agent, AHMSI-Maryland. In September 2007, AHMSIMaryland filed a complaint for foreclosure alleging it was the owner and holder of the underlying promissory note. With the complaint and the amended complaint, AHMSIMaryland filed copies of the mortgage, the promissory note showing a blank endorsement, and the 2006 assignment of mortgage. In April 2008, AHMSI purchased AHMSI-Maryland, acquiring the company's servicing rights. In 2009, AHMSI filed the original note and mortgage with the trial court.
Here, both the complaint and the amended complaint reflect that AHMSIMaryland, the original plaintiff, was the owner and holder of the note at the time the complaint was filed. An assignment of mortgage was attached to the complaint which provided that the original lender, American Brokers Conduit, assigned the mortgage to AHMSI-Maryland on March 30, 2006, more than one year prior to the filing of the original complaint. Also attached to the complaint and amended complaint was a copy of the note showing a blank endorsement. Because AHMSI possessed the original note, endorsed in blank, it was the lawful holder of the note entitled to enforce its terms.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
In the instant case, we do not believe that permitting Universal to proceed with its action against Pencor would, in any way, interfere with Congress’s intent to ensure that plans and plan sponsors are subject to a uniform body of benefits law. Universal is not asserting wrongdoing in the administration of the employee benefit plan, nor is it challenging the terms and conditions of the plan as created. Rather, Universal is alleging that Pencor engaged in tortious conduct by recommending that Universal create an employee benefit plan as a retirement investment vehicle and tax shelter. The recommendation, and the tortious conduct allegedly associated with it, necessarily occurred before the plan was even formed.
Appellant filed a complaint on August 6, 2010, seeking to foreclose a mortgage issued by Appellees. Appellant alleged, inter alia, that “Mortgagee shown on the Mortgage attached as an exhibit is the original Mortgagee” and “Plaintiff is now entitled to enforce Mortgage and Mortgage Note pursuant to Florida Statutes § 673.3011.” Appellant attached to the complaint copies of the mortgage and the promissory note.1 The note is endorsed “pay to the order of ________ without recourse,” with the blank space populated with a stamp of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
The Florida UCC and recent cases from this court stand for the proposition that a plaintiff has standing to bring a foreclosure action if the plaintiff is the holder of a promissory note, endorsed in blank, secured by a mortgage….We have previously held that “[t]he party that holds the note and mortgage in question has standing to bring and maintain a foreclosure action.” Deutsche Bank Nat’l. Trust Co. v. Lippi, 78 So. 3d 81, 84 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) ….“[T]he person having standing to foreclose a note secured by a mortgage may be either the holder of the note or a nonholder in possession of the note who has the rights of a holder.”….In Lippi, Deutsche Bank’s second amended complaint contained the language that it “is now the holder of the Mortgage Note and Mortgage and/or is entitled to enforce the Mortgage Note and Mortgage.” Lippi, 78 So. 3d at 84. The facts in Lippi are almost identical to Appellant’s complaint in the present case, which provides that the “Mortgagee shown on the Mortgage attached as an exhibit is the original Mortgagee” and “Plaintiff is now entitled to enforce Mortgage and Mortgage Note pursuant to Florida Statutes § 673.3011.” The Lippi court held, where the note was endorsed in blank, meaning it was “payable to the bearer and could be transferred simply by possession,” Deutsche Bank’s standing was established because it was the note holder, regardless of any recorded assignments.
In the present case, the original note Appellant attached was endorsed in blank with Appellant’s name stamped in the blank endorsement field, which, paired with section 673.3011(1), established that Appellant was the holder entitled to enforce the instrument….Applying portions of the Florida UCC, other district courts of appeal have determined that a party that holds a note endorsed in blank has standing to foreclose a mortgage.
CAN A PLAINTIFF IN A FORECLOSURE ACTION CURE THE INABILITY TO PROVE STANDING AT THE INCEPTION OF SUIT BY PROOF THAT THE PLAINTIFF HAS SINCE ACQUIRED STANDING?
For our part, appellate courts have seen a recent influx of appeals in which defendants have successfully argued that the trial court erred in entering a foreclosure judgment in favor of the plaintiff because the plaintiff failed to establish standing at the time of filing. ...In many of these cases, the plaintiff presented unrefuted proof of standing acquired after filing but prior to the final hearing. … The appellate courts are nonetheless compelled to reverse based on the district courts' application of a long line of supreme court cases applying the general principle that "the plaintiff's lack of standing at the inception of the case is not a defect that may be cured by the acquisition of standing after the case is filed."…We note that the supreme court has not applied this standing principle inthe exact context presented in this case. And we question whether, in light of the ongoing foreclosure crisis in this State, the supreme court would adhere to this principle in cases in which a plaintiff has acquired standing by the time judgment is entered. Accordingly, we certify the following question as one of great public importance:CAN A PLAINTIFF IN A FORECLOSURE ACTION CURE THE INABILITY TO PROVE STANDING AT THE INCEPTION OF SUIT BY PROOF THAT THE PLAINTIFF HAS SINCE ACQUIRED STANDING?
I concur in this decision because existing precedent requires me to do so. A requirement that the plaintiff prove that it owned or possessed a promissory note at the commencement of a foreclosure action may have made sense during earlier periods of economic downturn,3 but in this era of securitization of mortgage debt and computerized banking, it has proven to be a restriction that often provides a windfall to a borrower who can prove no harm by the fact that the plaintiff obtains possession of the note after the filing of the lawsuit but before the entry of judgment. So long as there is no dispute that the borrower received the money and defaulted on the note, the law should not use "standing" to require the dismissal of a lawsuit. If the defendant raises this issue at the inception of the lawsuit this affirmative defense may warrant a delay in the proceedings while the plaintiff establishes that it can enforce the note. But especially when the original note in default has already been filed in the court record, the law should generally permit a plaintiff to obtain a judgment of foreclosure if the plaintiff establishes that it has a right to enforce the note at the time it seeks to obtain a final judgment….
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Because the law is clear that the litigation privilege applies to abuse of process, we affirm the trial court’s order granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendants below as to that cause of action. Although the law is not as clear whether the litigation privilege also applies to a cause of action for malicious prosecution, we: (1) conclude that it does; and (2) affirm the trial court’s order finding that the litigation privilege also applies to a cause of action for malicious prosecution.
The elements of a cause of action for abuse of process under Florida law are: (1) an illegal, improper, or perverted use of process by the defendant; (2) an ulterior motive or purpose in exercising the illegal, improper, or perverted process; and (3) damages to the plaintiff as a result. Valdes v. GAB Robins N. Am. Inc., 924 So. 2d 862 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006).***The elements for a malicious prosecution cause of action are that a judicial proceeding: (1) was commenced against the plaintiff; (2) was instigated by the defendant; (3) ended in favor of the plaintiff; (4) was instigated with malice; (5) was commenced without probable cause; and (6) resulted in damage to the plaintiff. Valdes, 924 So. 2d at 866 n.1 (quoting Alamo Rent-A-Car, Inc. v. Mancusi, 632 So. 2d 1352, 1355 (Fla. 1994)).
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Reduced Requirements for Record Excerpts Now in Effect for Most Appeals. Please see Electronic Records on Appeal Program for additional information.
Most of these documents are in .pdf format.
If you would like to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader, please
|In February 2006, with General Order 32, the Court implemented a pilot program in the Southern District of Alabama to determine whether the Court could conduct its business efficiently and without additional cost, while relieving certain district courts of the burden of providing paper copies of the record on appeal. Since that date, the program has been modified and expanded with General Order 33.
At the present time, and upon request by the respective district courts, the Court has approved participation by all district courts in the Court’s Electronic Records on Appeal Program, either as an on-going program or a pilot program:
ELECTRONIC RECORDS ON APPEAL PROGRAM INFORMATIONGeneral Order 39
“Appendix on Appeal” Requirements (June 2013)
Briefs Checklist - Electronic Records on Appeal Program (Revised June 2013)
Instructions for Preparing an Appendix (June 2013)
Appendix Checklist – Civil / Summary Judgment Cases (June 2013)
Appendix Checklist – Criminal Cases (June 2013)
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
In Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, the United States Supreme Court revered THIS Florida Supreme Court decision. In conclusion, the Supreme Court stated:
We hold that the government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the requirements of Nollan and Dolan even when the government denies the permit and even when its demand is for money. The Court expresses no view on the merits of petitioner’s claim that respondent’s actions here failed to comply with the principles set forth in this opinion and those two cases. The Florida Supreme Court’s judgment is reversed, and this case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
From the opinion, "ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined."
A complete listing of the opinions below, briefs, and timeline is available from the SCOTUSblog.
The Daily Business Review has an article today titled "3rd DCA Reverses Itself Over Arbitration Award." A subscription is currently required to view the article. The article is about THIS opinion that released last Wednesday by the Third District. The one sentence opinion on rehearing vacated THIS six page opinion by Judge Fernandez. The earlier opinion included a 12 page dissent by Judge Salter. While the new unanimous opinion does not explain its reasoning, presumably Judge Salter's earlier dissent played a part. That dissent began:
I respectfully dissent. We should not engage in the very judicial proceedings that these international companies sought to avoid when they specified in their commission agreement that “[a]ny dispute or controversy arising in connection with this Agreement shall be subject to (and settled by) final and binding arbitration.” The threshold or “gatekeeper” determination regarding Mr. Rondon’s authority to initiate Ventus’s demand for arbitration, made here and now by the majority (after, and contrary to, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution Tribunal’s ruling on that very point), was a “controversy arising in connection with the agreement” that was properly heard and ruled upon by the tribunal and should not be revisited, much less nullified, by a Florida appellate court. The circuit court ruled in accordance with the deferential and extremely limited scope of review specified by the Florida and counterpart federal arbitration statutes (as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court), such that the order confirming the Tribunal’s detailed and closely-reasoned award should be affirmed.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
The Court noted the importance of professionalism and that "[s]urveys of both lawyers and judges continue to consistently reflect that professionalism is one of the most significant adverse problems that negatively impacts the practice of law in Florida today."
The Court agreed with the Professionalism Committee that additional measures need to be taken and stated that "While we continue our educational the Professionalism Commission concluded that further integrated, affirmative, practical and active measures are now needed. We agree."
The Court did not, however, "attempt to create an entirely new code of 'professional' or 'unprofessional' conduct " and agreed it should not "at this time, attempt to codify an entirely new 'Code of Professionalism.'” Using the following existing rules and guidelines, the Court created one integrated place to look for professionalism rules and guidance: "(1) the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar; (2) The Florida Bar Creed of Professionalism; (3) The Florida Bar Ideals and Goals of Professionalism; (4) The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar; and (5) the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court."
Further "The Chief Judge of every circuit shall create a Local Professionalism Panel to receive and resolve professionalism complaints informally if possible. In the discretion of the Chief Judge, the Circuit Committee on Professionalism may be designated as the Local Professionalism Panel. The Chief Judge of each circuit is responsible for activating the respective committees."
The Rules adopted by the Florida Supreme Court are found at Exhibit "A" to the opinion below.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Court Cannot Read More Into Statute Than Plain Language Dictates (In This Case Verification Requirements)
Florida Supreme Court Clarifies You Do Not Get Five Extra Days When Responding To A Proposal For Settlement
Applying the rationale of Concepcion to the facts set forth by the Fourth District in McKenzie, we conclude that the FAA preempts invalidating the class action waiver in this case on the basis of it being void as against public policy. Accordingly, we quash the Fourth District’s decision below. We decline to answer the certified question because it is moot in light of Concepcion. In other words, even if the Fourth District is correct that the class action waiver in this case is void under state public policy, this Court is without authority to invalidate the class action waiver on that basis because federal law and the authoritative decision of the United States Supreme Court in Concepcion preclude us from doing so.Justice Pariente wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Quince, Justice Canady, Justice Labarga, and Justice Perry concurred. Chief Justice Polston and Justice Lewis concurred in result only.
The Florida Supreme Court's opinion can be viewed HERE. The Fourth District's opinion, that is now quashed, can be viewed HERE.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The offer, entitled “Defendant’s Joint Proposal for Settlement,” also appears to have been adopted from a form without sufficient editing; it requires “Plaintiff’(s)” to “execute a stipulation,” and “Plaintiff(s)” to “execute a general release of “Defendant(s).”
[Appellant] seeks reversal of the trial court’s order striking its pleadings and dismissing the case as a sanction for discovery violations. The Bank asserts that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to make express factual findings demonstrating that such a severe sanction was warranted, as required by Kozel v. Ostendorf, 629 So. 2d 817 (Fla. 1993). We agree and reverse.
For the reasons discussed above, we reverse the trial court’s final judgment and remand this cause with directions that the trial court enter a revised final judgment for the amounts set forth in the appraisal award less:
(i) amounts previously paid;(ii) amounts allocated to exterior common elements excluded by the terms of the applicable insurance policies; and(iii) amounts awarded in excess of any amount agreed upon by the parties for roof repairs and water extraction for Buildings A and C if, and only if, the trial court concludes – after an evidentiary hearing – that the parties reached a binding pre-appraisal agreement stipulating to the amount owed.
To the extent the trial court refused to adjudicate Citizens’ claims that amounts awarded were duplicative or represent losses to property the unit owners – as opposed to River Manor – were obligated to insure, the judgment is affirmed.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Writing for the First Circuit in In re Bulger, Justice Souter's opinion provides a good discussion about recusal. You can view the opinion at THIS link. At issue was the defendant's petition for writ of mandamus seeking an order requiring the district court judge to recuse himself based upon allegations the judge had been invoked in the case (due to his role as an assistant US Attorney). Notably, the defendant was previously on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. After an analysis of what recusal is and isn't, and applying that analysis to the facts in this case, the opinion concluded:
In sum, despite our respect for Judge Stearns and our belief in his sincerity, we are nonetheless bound to conclude that it is clear that a reasonable person might question the judge’s ability to preserve impartiality through the course of this prosecution and the likely rulings made necessary by the immunity claim. The other mandamus conditions being satisfied, the petition is granted, and the case shall be reassigned to a judge whose curriculum vitae does not implicate the same level of institutional responsibility described here.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
In Band v. Libby (2D11-4942), the Second District held (in addition to addressing other issues) that a claim for breach of fiduciary duty can be waived. The court stated:
We hold that a party may waive a claim based on the breach of a fiduciary duty. "Parties, by their own knowledge and conduct, can waive or be estopped to raise a wide array of constitutional, statutory, and common law rights . . . ." Ruggio v. Vining, 755 So. 2d 792, 795 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Indeed, "[a] party may waive any rights to which he or she is legally entitled, by actions or conduct warranting an inference that a known right has been relinquished." Torres v. K-Site 500 Assocs., 632 So. 2d 110, 112 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994) (emphasis added). It follows that a claim based on a breach of fiduciary duty, like any other claim, may be waived.
Trial Court Erred In Refusing To Vacate Judgment When Borrower Cured Default Prior To Foreclosure Sale
We hold that the trial court, having vacated the foreclosure sale, abused its discretion in refusing to grant the related collateral relief requested by Wells Fargo, which refusal prevented the parties from concluding their settlement. See Toler, 78 So. 3d at 701 (“An order denying a motion for relief from judgment is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.”). The trial court clearly had jurisdiction to consider Wells Fargo’s Rule 1.540(b)(5) motion; and in light of the parties’ settlement --a result the law seeks to encourage -- the relief requested should have been granted. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Lupica, 36 So. 3d 875 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).In a footnote the court noted that they were not holding that a trial court was always required to vacate a judgment based upon the settlement of the parties and that there may be circumstances when other influences would support denying such a motion. However, there were no other influences in this case.
Material Outside Complaint Can Be Considered In Motion Relating To Contractual Forum Selection Clause
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Having reviewed the origin and original purpose of the economic loss rule, and what has been described as the unprincipled extension of the rule, we now take this final step and hold that the economic loss rule applies only in the products liability context. We thus recede from our prior rulings to the extent that they have applied the economic loss rule to cases other than products liability. The Court will depart from precedent as it does here “when such departure is ‘necessary to vindicate other principles of law or to remedy continued injustice.’ ” Allstate Indem. Co. v. Ruiz, 899 So. 2d 1121, 1131 (Fla. 2005) (quoting Haag v. State, 591 So. 2d 614, 618 (Fla. 1992)). Stare decisis will also yield when an established rule has proven unacceptable or unworkable in practice. See Westgate Miami Beach, Ltd. v. Newport Operating Corp., 55 So. 3d 576, 574 (Fla. 2010). Our experience with the economic loss rule over time, which led to the creation of the exceptions to the rule, now demonstrates that expansion of the rule beyond its origins was unwise and unworkable in practice. Thus, today we return the economic loss rule to its origin in products liability.
CONCLUSIONBecause we now limit the application of the economic loss rule to cases involving products liability, it is not necessary for us to decide whether the economic loss rule exception for professionals applies to insurance brokers. Based on the foregoing, we answer the rephrased certified question in the negative and hold that the application of the economic loss rule is limited to products liability cases. Having answered the rephrased certified question, we return this case to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Friday, February 22, 2013
In Universal Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Stathopoulos (2D12-2412, 2D12-3606), the Second District granted a motion to dismiss, concluding that review of the partial final judgment appealed would constitute improper piecemeal review. The court certified conflict to the Florida Supreme Court.
In the case, an underlying lawsuit relating to a car accident had been resolved. The second lawsuit ws described as follows:
In the subsequent lawsuit underlying this appeal, Ms.Stathopoulos and Western General filed a three-count amended complaint againstUniversal for declaratory relief and for breach of contract and bad faith for Universal'sfailure to defend and indemnify the driver in the wrongful death lawsuit. The order onappeal declares that the driver was an insured under Universal's policy and notes thatthe other two counts remain pending.
After discussing its jurisdiction and the various rules, the Second District stated:
Because the amended complaint reflects that the three counts are based on the samefacts and are intertwined, we conclude that allowing an appeal of the declaratory countat this stage would foster impermissible piecemeal review. See Mendez v. W. FlaglerFamily Ass'n, 303 So. 2d 1, 5 (Fla. 1974).
After concluding jurisdiction as a final order or non-final order was inappropriate and that it did not have certiorari jurisdiction, the Second District dismissed the consolidated appeals. However, they also certified conflict to the Florida Supreme Court which was included in a footnote. The issue certified is below:
We note that other courts have resolved appeals in similar postures under rule 9.110(m) or Reed, albeit without explicit jurisdictional analysis. See, e.g., Wilshire Ins. Co. v. Birch Crest Apartments, Inc., 69 So. 3d 975 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011); Am. Reliance Ins. Co. v. Perez, 712 So. 2d 1211 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998). To the extent that the present case is in conflict with these decisions, we certify the conflict. We reach the same conclusion as did the First District in Mercury Insurance Co. of Florida v. Markham, 938 So. 2d 607 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), although by a somewhat different analysis.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
While on the subject of some of Broward County's better moments, apparently, there is a discussion about changing the name Broward County to Fort Lauderdale. Looking at some of these stories, maybe a name change wouldn't hurt.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
On Friday, the Southern District of Florida sent the following email to registered CM/ECF users:
Effective February 1, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has approved the Southern District of Florida's participation in the Electronic Records on Appeal program (EROA). For information about how this may impact your future filings with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, please refer to their website
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Where the presiding judge in a criminal case has accepted the prosecutor assigned to the case as a Facebook “friend,” would a reasonably prudent person fear that he could not get a fair and impartial trial, so that the defendant’s motion for disqualification should be granted?
The majority does not provide its reasoning for its conclusion that the certified question is one of great public importance. The only reasoning for its conclusion appears to be stated in the concurring opinion. I disagree with the concurring opinion’s reasoning.The concurring opinion reasons that the ability of judges to participate in social media with attorneys who appear before them “is of great importance to many.” However, the concurring opinion does not cite any authority for that statement. On the contrary, as the concurring opinion recognizes, common sense suggests that the public, without question, would appear to desire otherwise: “Maintenance of the appearance of impartiality requires the avoidance of entanglements and relationships that compromise that appearance . . . [A] person who accepts the responsibility of being a judge must also accept limitations on personal freedom.”
Whether a judge may add lawyers who may appear before the judge as "friends" on a social networking site, and permit such lawyers to add the judge as their "friend."ANSWER: No.