Monday, January 11, 2010

Florida Supreme Court Accepts Jurisdiction Over Standard For Motion For New Trial

The Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction in Companioni v. City of Tampa (SC09-1800).  The Second District's opinion under review was discussed HERE.  The Petitioner's Brief on Jurisdiction can be found HERE and the Respondent's Brief on Jurisdiction can be found HERE.  The decision under review stated:
Although a party whose objection is sustained must move for a mistrial in order to preserve the issue for appellate review, a motion for mistrial is not a prerequisite to moving for a new trial...As explained in Nigro, a trial court generally has broad discretion to setaside a jury verdict and grant a new trial. Id. When counsel's misconduct deprives a party of a fair trial and that conduct has been objected to, the trial court may order a new trial even though there was no motion for a mistrial and the error was not fundamental.
Here, the trial court erroneously concluded that the City had not preserved its objections to opposing counsel's misconduct. Consequently, it applied the wrong standard when it evaluated the City's motion for a new trial. Under the correct standard, the trial court would not need to consider whether counsel’s conduct was so egregious that failure to grant a new trial would undermine the public's confidence in the justice system. Rather, it only needed to consider whether opposing counsel's misconduct deprived the City of a fair trial. Having found that it did, the trial court should have granted the City's motion. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for a new trial.
*Disclaimer: GrayRobinson, P.A. is involved in the above-referenced action.


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