Rule 9.040. General Provisions

(a) Complete Determination. In all proceedings a court shall have such jurisdiction as may be necessary for a complete determination of the cause.

(b) Forum.

(1) If a proceeding is commenced in an inappropriate court, that court shall transfer the cause to an appropriate court.

(2) After a lower tribunal renders an order transferring venue, the appropriate court to review otherwise reviewable non-final orders is as follows:

(A) After rendition of an order transferring venue, the appropriate court to review the non-final venue order, all other reviewable non-final orders rendered prior to or simultaneously with the venue order, any order staying, vacating, or modifying the transfer of venue order, or an order dismissing a cause for failure to pay venue transfer fees, is the court that would review non-final orders in the cause, had venue not been transferred.

(B) After rendition of an order transferring venue, the appropriate court to review any subsequently rendered reviewable non-final order, except for those orders listed in subdivision (b)(2)(A), is the court which would review the order, if the cause had been filed in the lower tribunal to which venue was transferred.

(C) The clerk of the lower tribunal whose order is being reviewed shall perform the procedures required by these provisions regarding transfer of venue, including accepting and filing a notice of appeal. If necessary to facilitate non-final review, after an order transferring venue has been rendered, the clerk of the lower tribunal shall copy and retain such portions of the record as are necessary for review of the non-final order. If the file of the cause has been transferred to the transferee tribunal before the notice of appeal is filed in the transferring tribunal, the clerk of the transferee tribunal shall copy and transmit to the transferring tribunal such portions of the record as are necessary for review of the non-final order.

(c) Remedy. If a party seeks an improper remedy, the cause shall be treated as if the proper remedy had been sought; provided that it shall not be the responsibility of the court to seek the proper remedy.

(d) Amendment. At any time in the interest of justice, the court may permit any part of the proceeding to be amended so that it may be disposed of on the merits. In the absence of amendment, the court may disregard any procedural error or defect that does not adversely affect the substantial rights of the parties.

(e) Assignments of Error. Assignments of error are neither required nor permitted.

(f) Filing Fees. Filing fees may be paid by check or money order.

(g) Clerks’ Duties. On filing of a notice prescribed by these rules, the clerk shall forthwith transmit the fee and a certified copy of the notice, showing the date of filing, to the court. If jurisdiction has been invoked under rule 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v) or (a)(2)(A)(vi), or if a certificate has been issued by a district court under rule 9.030(a)(2)(B), the clerk of the district court of appeal shall transmit copies of the certificate and decision or order and any suggestion, replies, or appendices with the certified copy of the notice. Notices to review final orders of county and circuit courts in civil cases shall be recorded.

(h) Non-Jurisdictional Matters. Failure of a clerk or a party timely to file fees or additional copies of notices or petitions or the conformed copy of the order or orders designated in the notice of appeal shall not be jurisdictional; provided that such failure may be the subject of appropriate sanction.

(i) Request to Determine Confidentiality of Appellate Court Records. Requests to determine the confidentiality of appellate records are governed by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420.

Committee Notes

      1977 Amendment. This rule sets forth several miscellaneous matters of general applicability.

Subdivision (a) is derived from the last sentence of former rule 2.1(a)(5)(a), which concerned direct appeals to the supreme court. This provision is intended to guarantee that once the jurisdiction of any court is properly invoked, the court may determine the entire case to the extent permitted by substantive law. This rule does not extend or limit the constitutional or statutory jurisdiction of any court.

Subdivisions (b) and (c) implement article V, section 2(a), Florida Constitution. Former rule 2.1(a)(5)(d) authorized transfer if an improper forum was chosen, but the former rules did not address the problem of improper remedies being sought. The advisory committee does not consider it to be the responsibility of the court to seek the proper remedy for any party, but a court may not deny relief because a different remedy is proper. Under these provisions a case will not be dismissed automatically because a party seeks an improper remedy or invokes the jurisdiction of the wrong court. The court must instead treat the case as if the proper remedy had been sought and transfer it to the court having jurisdiction. All filings in the case have the same legal effect as though originally filed in the court to which transfer is made. This rule is intended to supersede Nellen v. State, 226 So. 2d 354 (Fla. 1st DCA 1969), in which a petition for a common law writ of certiorari was dismissed by the district court of appeal because review was properly by appeal to the appropriate circuit court, and Engel v. City of North Miami, 115 So. 2d 1 (Fla. 1959), in which a petition for a writ of certiorari was dismissed because review should have been by appeal. Under this rule, a petition for a writ of certiorari should be treated as a notice of appeal, if timely.

Subdivision (d) is the appellate procedure counterpart of the harmless error statute, section 59.041, Florida Statutes (1975). It incorporates the concept contained in former rule 3.2(c), which provided that deficiencies in the form or substance of a notice of appeal were not grounds for dismissal, absent a clear showing that the adversary had been misled or prejudiced.

Amendments should be liberally allowed under this rule, including pleadings in the lower tribunal, if it would not result in irremediable prejudice.

Subdivision (e) is intended to make clear that assignments of error have been abolished by these rules. It is not intended to extend the scope of review to matters other than judicial acts. If less than the entire record as defined in rule 9.200(a)(1) is to be filed, rule 9.200(a)(2) requires service of a statement of the judicial acts for which review is sought. This requirement also applies under rule 9.140(d). As explained in the commentary accompanying those provisions, such a statement does not have the same legal effect as an assignment of error under the former rules.

Subdivision (f) permits payment of filing fees by check or money order and carries forward the substance of former rule 3.2(a), which allowed payments in cash.

Subdivision (g) is derived from former rules 3.2(a) and 3.2(e). Under these rules, notices
and fees are filed in the lower tribunal unless specifically stated otherwise. The clerk must transmit the notice and fees immediately. This requirement replaces the provision of the former rules that the notice be transmitted within 5 days. The advisory committee was of the view that no reason existed for any delays. The term “forthwith” should not be construed to prevent the clerk from delaying transmittal of a notice of criminal appeal for which no fee has been filed for the period of time necessary to obtain an order regarding solvency for appellate purposes and the appointment of the public defender for an insolvent defendant. This provision requires recording of the notice if review of a final trial court order in a civil case is sought. When supreme court jurisdiction is invoked on the basis of the certification of a question of great public interest, the clerk of the district court of appeal is required to transmit a copy of the certificate and the decision to the court along with the notice and fees.

Subdivision (h) is intended to implement the decision in Williams v. State, 324 So. 2d 74 (Fla. 1975), in which it was held that only the timely filing of the notice of appeal is jurisdictional. The proviso permits the court to impose sanctions if there is a failure to timely file fees or copies of the notice or petition.

The advisory committee considered and rejected as too difficult to implement a proposal of the bar committee that the style of a cause should remain the same as in the lower tribunal.

It should be noted that these rules abolish the practice of permitting Florida trial courts to certify questions to an appellate court. The former rules relating to the internal government of the courts and the creation of the advisory committee have been eliminated as irrelevant to appellate procedure. At its conference of June 27, however, the court unanimously voted to establish a committee to, among other things, prepare a set of administrative rules to incorporate matters of internal governance formerly contained in the appellate rules. The advisory committee has recommended that its existence be continued by the supreme court.

1980 Amendment. Subdivision (g) was amended to direct the clerk of the district court to transmit copies of the district court decision, the certificate, the order of the trial court, and the suggestion, replies, and appendices in all cases certified to the supreme court under rule 9.030(a)(2)(B) or otherwise certified under rule 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v) or (a)(2)(A)(vi).

      1992 Amendment. Subdivision (h) was amended to provide that the failure to attach conformed copies of the order or orders designated in a notice of appeal as is now required by rules 9.110(d), 9.130(c), and 9.160(c) would not be a jurisdictional defect, but could be the basis of appropriate sanction by the court if the conformed copies were not included with the notice of appeal.

2000 Amendment. In the event non-final or interlocutory review of a reviewable, non-final order is sought, new subdivision 9.040(b)(2) specifies which court should review such order, after rendition of an order transferring venue to another lower tribunal outside the appellate district of the transferor lower tribunal. It is intended to change and clarify the rules announced in Vasilinda v. Lozano, 631 So. 2d 1082 (Fla. 1994), and Cottingham v. State, 672 So. 2d 28 (Fla. 1996). The subdivision makes the time a venue order is rendered the critical factor in determining which court should review such non-final orders, rather than the time fees are paid, or the time the file is received by the transferee lower tribunal, and it applies equally to civil as well as criminal cases. If review is sought of the order transferring venue, as well as other reviewable non-final orders rendered before the change of venue order is rendered, or ones rendered simultaneously with it, review should be by the court that reviews such orders from the transferring lower tribunal. If review is sought of reviewable, non-final orders rendered after the time the venue order is rendered, review should be by the court that reviews such orders from the transferee lower tribunal. The only exceptions are for review of orders staying or vacating the transfer of venue order, or an order dismissing the cause for failure to pay fees, which should be reviewed by the court that reviews orders from the transferring lower tribunal. This paragraph is not intended to apply to review of reviewable non-final orders, for which non-final or interlocutory review is not timely sought or perfected.

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