Rule 9.020. Definitions

The following terms have the meanings shown as used in these rules:

(a) Administrative Action. Administrative action shall include:

(1) final agency action as defined in the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 120, Florida Statutes;

(2) non-final action by an agency or administrative law judge reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act;

(3) quasi-judicial decisions by any administrative body, agency, board or commission not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act; and

(4) administrative action for which judicial review is provided by general law.

(b) Clerk. The person or official specifically designated as such for the court or lower tribunal; if no person or official has been specifically so designated, the official or agent who most closely resembles a clerk in the functions performed.

(c) Court. The supreme court; the district courts of appeal; and the circuit courts in the exercise of the jurisdiction described by rule 9.030(c), including the chief justice of the supreme court and the chief judge of a district court of appeal in the exercise of constitutional, administrative, or supervisory powers on behalf of such courts.

(d) Family Law Matter. A matter governed by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

(e) Lower Tribunal. The court, agency, officer, board, commission, judge of compensation claims, or body whose order is to be reviewed.

(f) Order. A decision, order, judgment, decree, or rule of a lower tribunal, excluding minutes and minute book entries.

(g) Parties.

(1) Appellant. A party who seeks to invoke the appeal jurisdiction of a court.

(2) Appellee. Every party in the proceeding in the lower tribunal other than an appellant.

(3) Petitioner. A party who seeks an order under rule 9.100 or rule 9.120.

(4) Respondent. Every other party in a proceeding brought by a petitioner.

(h) Applicability of Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. The Florida Rules of Judicial Administration are applicable in all proceedings governed by these rules, except as otherwise provided in these rules. These rules shall govern where in conflict with the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.

(i) Rendition (of an Order). An order is rendered when a signed, written order is filed with the clerk of the lower tribunal. However, unless another applicable rule of procedure specifically provides to the contrary, if a final order has been entered and there has been filed in the lower tribunal an authorized and timely motion for new trial, for rehearing, for certification, to alter or amend, for judgment in accordance with prior motion for directed verdict, for arrest of judgment, to challenge the verdict, to correct a sentence or order of probation pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(b)(1), to withdraw a plea after sentencing pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(l), or to vacate an order based upon the recommendations of a hearing officer in accordance with Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.491, the following exceptions
apply:

(1) If such a motion or motions have been filed, the final order shall not be deemed rendered as to any existing party until the filing of a signed, written order disposing of the last of such motions.

(2) If such a motion or motions have been filed, a signed, written order granting a new trial shall be deemed rendered when filed with the clerk, notwithstanding that other such motions may remain pending at the time.

(3) If such a motion or motions have been filed and a notice of appeal is filed before the filing of a signed, written order disposing of all such motions, the appeal shall be held in abeyance until the filing of a signed, written order disposing of the last such motion.

(j) Rendition of an Appellate Order. If any timely and authorized motion under rule 9.330 or 9.331 is filed, the order shall not be deemed rendered as to any party until all of the motions are either withdrawn or resolved by the filing of a written order.

(k) Signed. A signed document is one containing a signature as provided by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.515(c).

(l) E-filing System Docket. The docket where attorneys and those parties who are registered users of the court’s electronic filing (e-filing) system can view the electronic documents filed in their case(s).

Committee Notes

      1977 Amendment. This rule supersedes former rule 1.3. Throughout these rules the defined terms have been used in their technical sense only, and are not intended to alter substantive law. Instances may arise in which the context of the rule requires a different meaning
for a defined term, but these should be rare.

The term “administrative action” is new and has been defined to make clear the application of these rules to judicial review of administrative agency action. This definition was not intended to conflict with the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 120, Florida Statutes (1975), but was intended to include all administrative agency action as defined in the Administrative Procedure Act. The reference to municipalities is not intended to conflict with article VIII, section 1(a), Florida Constitution, which makes counties the only political subdivisions of the state.

The term “clerk” retains the substance of the term “clerk” defined in the former rules. This term includes the person who in fact maintains records of proceedings in the lower tribunal if no person is specifically and officially given that duty.

The term “court” retains the substance of the term “court” defined in the former rules, but has been modified to recognize the authority delegated to the chief justice of the supreme court and the chief judges of the district courts of appeal. This definition was not intended to broaden the scope of these rules in regard to the administrative responsibilities of the mentioned judicial officers. The term is used in these rules to designate the court to which a proceeding governed by these rules is taken. If supreme court review of a district court of appeal decision is involved, the district court of appeal is the “lower tribunal.”

The term “lower tribunal” includes courts and administrative agencies. It replaces the terms “commission,” “board,” and “lower court” defined in the former rules.

The term “order” has been broadly defined to include all final and interlocutory rulings of a lower tribunal and rules adopted by an administrative agency. Minute book entries are excluded from the definition in recognition of the decision in Employers’ Fire Ins. Co. v. Continental Ins. Co., 326 So. 2d 177 (Fla. 1976). It was intended that this rule encourage the entry of written orders in every case.

The terms “appellant,” “appellee,” “petitioner,” and “respondent” have been defined according to the rule applicable to a particular proceeding and generally not according to the legal nature of the proceeding before the court. The term “appellee” has been defined to include the parties against whom relief is sought and all others necessary to the cause. This rule supersedes all statutes concerning the same subject matter, such as section 924.03, Florida Statutes (1975). It should be noted that if a certiorari proceeding is specifically governed by a rule that only refers to “appellant” and “appellee,” a “petitioner” and “respondent” should proceed as if they were “appellant” and “appellee,” respectively. For example, certiorari proceedings in the supreme court involving the Public Service Commission and Industrial Relations Commission are specifically governed by rule 9.110 even though that rule only refers to “appellant” and “appellee.” The parties in such a certiorari proceeding remain designated as “petitioner” and “respondent,” because as a matter of substantive law the party invoking the court’s jurisdiction is seeking a writ of certiorari. The same is true of rule 9.200 governing the record in such certiorari proceedings.

The term “rendition” has been simplified and unnecessary language deleted. The filing requirement of the definition was not intended to conflict with the substantive right of review guaranteed by the Administrative Procedure Act, section 120.68(1), Florida Statutes (Supp. 1976), but to set a point from which certain procedural times could be measured. Motions that postpone the date of rendition have been narrowly limited to prevent deliberate delaying tactics. To postpone rendition the motion must be timely, authorized, and one of those listed. However, if the lower tribunal is an administrative agency whose rules of practice denominate motions identical to those listed by a different label, the substance of the motion controls and rendition is postponed accordingly.

The definition of “legal holiday” has been eliminated but its substance has been retained in rule 9.420(e).

The term “bond” is defined in rule 9.310(c)(1).

Terms defined in the former rules and not defined here are intended to have their ordinary meanings in accordance with the context of these rules.

1992 Amendment. Subdivision (a) has been amended to reflect properly that deputy commissioners presently are designated as judges of compensation claims.

Subdivision (g) has been rewritten extensively. The first change in this rule was to ensure that an authorized motion for clarification (such as under rule 9.330) was included in those types of motions that delay rendition.

Subdivision (g) also has been revised in several respects to clarify some problems presented by the generality of the prior definition of “rendition.” Although rendition is postponed in most types of cases by the filing of timely and authorized post-judgment motions, some rules of procedure explicitly provide to the contrary. The subdivision therefore has been qualified to provide that conflicting rules shall control over the general rule stated in the subdivision. See In Re Interest of E. P., 544 So. 2d 1000 (Fla. 1989). The subdivision also has been revised to make explicit a qualification of long standing in the decisional law, that rendition of non-final orders cannot be postponed by motions directed to them. Not all final orders are subject to postponement of rendition, however. Rendition of a final order can be postponed only by an “authorized” motion, and whether any of the listed motions is an “authorized” motion depends on the rules of procedure governing the proceeding in which the final order is entered. See Francisco v. Victoria Marine Shipping, Inc., 486 So. 2d 1386 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986), review denied 494 So. 2d 1153.

Subdivision (g)(1) has been added to clarify the date of rendition when post-judgment motions have been filed. If there is only 1 plaintiff and 1 defendant in the case, the filing of a post-judgment motion or motions by either party (or both parties) will postpone rendition of the entire final order as to all claims between the parties. If there are multiple parties on either or both sides of the case and less than all parties file post-judgment motions, rendition of the final order will be postponed as to all claims between moving parties and parties moved against, but rendition will not be postponed with respect to claims disposed of in the final order between parties who have no post-judgment motions pending between them with respect to any of those claims. See, e.g., Phillips v. Ostrer, 442 So. 2d 1084 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983).

Ideally, all post-judgment motions should be disposed of at the same time. See WinnDixie Stores, Inc. v. Robinson, 472 So. 2d 722 (Fla. 1985). If that occurs, the final order is deemed rendered as to all claims when the order disposing of the motions is filed with the clerk. If all motions are not disposed of at the same time, the final order is deemed rendered as to all claims between a moving party and a party moved against when the written order disposing of the last remaining motion addressed to those claims is filed with the clerk, notwithstanding that other motions filed by co-parties may remain pending. If such motions remain, the date of rendition with respect to the claims between the parties involved in those motions shall be determined in the same way.

Subdivision (g)(2) has been added to govern the special circumstance that arises when rendition of a final order has been postponed initially by post-judgment motions, and a motion for new trial then is granted. If the new trial has been granted simply as an alternative to a new final order, the appeal will be from the new final order. However, if a new trial alone has been ordered, the appeal will be from the new trial order. See rule 9.110. According to the decisional law, rendition of such an order is not postponed by the pendency of any additional, previously filed post-judgment motions, nor can rendition of such an order be postponed by the filing of any further motion. See Frazier v. Seaboard System Railroad, Inc., 508 So. 2d 345 (Fla. 1987). To ensure that subdivision (g)(1) is not read as a modification of this special rule, subdivision (g)(2) has been added to make it clear that a separately appealable new trial order is deemed rendered when filed, notwithstanding that other post-judgment motions directed to the initial final order may remain pending at the time.

Subdivision (g)(3) has been added to clarify the confusion generated by a dictum in Williams v. State, 324 So. 2d 74 (Fla. 1975), which appeared contrary to the settled rule that post-judgment motions were considered abandoned by a party who filed a notice of appeal before their disposition. See In Re: Forfeiture of $104,591 in U.S. Currency, 578 So. 2d 727 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991). The new subdivision confirms that rule, and provides that the final order is rendered as to the appealing party when the notice of appeal is filed. Although the final order is rendered as to the appealing party, it is not rendered as to any other party whose post-judgment motions are pending when the notice of appeal is filed.

      1996 Amendment. Subdivision (a) was amended to reflect the current state of the law. When the term “administrative action” is used in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, it encompasses proceedings under the Administrative Procedure Act, quasi-judicial proceedings before local government agencies, boards, and commissions, and administrative action for which
judicial review is provided by general law.

Addition of language in subdivision (i) is intended to toll the time for the filing of a notice of appeal until the resolution of a timely filed motion to vacate when an order has been entered based on the recommendation of a hearing officer in a family law matter. Under the prior rules, a motion to vacate was not an authorized motion to toll the time for the filing of an appeal, and too often the motion to vacate could not be heard within 30 days of the rendition of the order. This rule change permits the lower tribunal to complete its review prior to the time an appeal must be filed.

      2000 Amendment. The text of subdivision (i) was moved into the main body of subdivision (h) to retain consistency in the definitional portions of the rule.

Court Commentary

      1996 Amendment. Subdivision (h) was amended to ensure that a motion to correct sentence or order of probation and a motion to withdraw the plea after sentencing would postpone rendition. Subdivision (h)(3) was amended to explain that such a motion is not waived by an appeal from a judgment of guilt.

Updated with rule changes effective October 1, 2017.  For more information about these changes, check out the Florida Appellate Procedure Blog.

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