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FJA Members:

This is an important message regarding recommended amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, and specifically rules pertaining to case management, motion practice and discovery.

In 2019, the Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases was established within the Judicial Management Council (JMC).  The JMC is an advisory body to the chief justice and the supreme court on issues before the courts and develops strategies to address these issues.  The stated goals of the Workgroup were: 1) to ensuring the fair and timely resolution of all cases through effective case management; and 2) to utilize caseload and other workload information to manage resources and promote accountability.

The Workgroup was charged with the following:

  • Reviewing the civil case management recommendations endorsed in 2016 by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators and the outcomes of pilot projects or other initiatives that have implemented these recommendations in this and other states.
  • Reviewing recent initiatives in other states wherein rules of court were amended or other measures were taken to achieve timelier, more cost-effective, or otherwise improved resolution of civil cases.
  • Reviewing laws, rules of court, and practices that have improved the management and resolution of civil cases in the federal court system and that, if adopted in Florida, would improve the resolution of civil cases.
  • Examining this state’s laws, rules of court, and practices relating to civil procedure and case management to determine whether changes can be made to improve the resolution of civil cases. This examination had to include consideration of whether this state’s laws and rules of court sufficiently address and deter a failure to prosecute, a violation of discovery, presentation of an unsupported claim or defense, and causation of an improper delay in litigation.
  • Making recommendations, if warranted, to improve the resolution of civil cases and propose any revisions in this state’s laws, rules of court, or practices necessary to implement the Workgroup’s recommendations.

The Workgroup’s recommended rule amendments include:

1. The promulgation of new or amended Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration to institute “differentiated case management” standards in civil courts.

    • Require trial judges to engage in active case management from the inception of a lawsuit.
    • Designed to provide trial judges means to “take charge of all cases at an early stage in the litigation and … control the progress of the case thereafter until the case is determined.

2. The promulgation of amended Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration, and Small Claims Rules, including those on motion practice, discovery, and continuances, to ensure attorney compliance with trial court orders and timetables in the differentiated-case-management protocol.

3. The promulgation of a new reporting requirement in rule 2.250(b) to enhance judicial accountability in case resolution.

The Workgroup has concluded its research and has drafted a final report containing recommended civil rule amendments.  These recommendations include substantial changes to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.  Through the links below, you will find a full copy of the draft report, a stand-alone copy of Appendix 1 to the report (proposed rule amendments), and a brief summary presentation on the scope of the report.  The report has been referred to relevant Florida Bar committees for their review.  Any written comments from the committees are due no later than October 1, 2021.  The final version of the report is due to the Judicial Management Council by November 19, 2021.

We are seeking input from practitioners on areas of concern they may find in reviewing the amendment language.  Any comments should be submitted to William Cotterall at wcotterall@myfja.org and identify the specific amendment language and a description of the concern.