FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 10/11/2018 Contact: Rex E. Russo, attorney
Re-print, re-publish, re-post, or Phone: 305-442-7393
quote freely, but give credit. Email: Rex@FloridaPropertyLitigation.com
WHOSE VOICE IS NO LONGER BEING HEARD?
- or -
“WHO’S VOICE IS NO LONGER BEING HEARD!”
The number of filings before the Third District Court of Appeal has been in serious decline over the last several years. In fact, 2017 saw about the same number of cases as were filed in 1992. That was 25 years ago! Yet the population in Miami-Dade grew by about 725,000 during that period of time, and by about 25,000 more for Monroe County, according to records kept by the U.S. Census Bureau.* Certainly the interactions of an additional three-quarters of a million people should spawn a greater number of legal conflicts. So, why the decline in appellate court filings? It would be very interesting if a research study were to assign classifications to the appeals and look at the statistical break-down of those cases filed over the years to determine the category that has declined the most.
Last year the Fourth District Court of Appeal saw 3,967 cases filed to the Third District’s 2,815. Granted, the Fourth District has 12 judges to the Third District’s 10 judges. However, that’s a ratio of 331 cases per judge in the Fourth DCA compared to only 282 cases per judge in the Third DCA. On average Fourth DCA judges are reviewing 17% more cases than Third DCA judges. In part, the Fourth DCA judges have to make up for the fact that there is only 1 judge to about every 330,000 residents within the district, compared to the Third DCA where there is 1 judge to about every 277,000 residents. As a percentage, each Fourth DCA judge has to deal with about a 22% greater population assignment which likely explains their increased case load. If the dynamics of cases filed within each district are comparable, then the Third DCA has more judicial resources to apply to each case than does the Fourth DCA. That is not to say that the resources are sufficient for either district. It also does not explain the significant drop in cases appealed to the Third DCA — a statistic that one suspects is repeated across the districts.
In order to maintain the number of filings at these levels, as opposed to the number of filings we would expect to see given the tremendous increase in the population, some demographic of the population had to give way. In other words, some of those litigants who filed cases 25 years ago, for whatever reason would not likely be filing those cases today in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. The reason could be the increased costs of an appeal; the reason could be finding a competent attorney willing to take the appeal; the reason could be a perceived bias by the appellate court to certain issues and litigants thus lowering the potential benefit to cost ratio; the reason could be attorneys made fearful of filing appeals; or, it could be any combination of those and other matters. However, we can fairly well hypothesize that banks, developers, insurance companies, government entities, and large corporations have not shied away from filing appeals. Who then?
“They cried out in fear: “We are here! We are here! We are here! We are here!”
Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss
NUMBER OF CASES REPORTED AS FILED BEFORE THE 3DCA**
1992 there were 2,776 appeals filed Lawton Chiles, Governor (Dem.)
1993 there were 2,987 appeals filed " " "
1994 there were 3,080 appeals filed " " "
1995 there were 3,686 appeals filed (Peak) Lawton Chiles, Governor (Dem.)
1996 there were 3,608 appeals filed " " "
1997 there were 3,667 appeals filed " " "
1998 there were 3,432 appeals filed " " "
1999 there were 3,255 appeals filed Jeb Bush, Governor (Rep.)
2000 there were 3,654 appeals filed " " "
2001 there were 3,597 appeals filed " " "
2002 there were 3,492 appeals filed " " "
2003 there were 3,388 appeals filed " " "
2004 there were 3,279 appeals filed " " "
2005 there were 2,968 appeals filed " " "
2006 there were 3,201 appeals filed " " "
2007 there were 3,335 appeals filed Charlie Crist, Governor (Rep.)
2008 there were 3,324 appeals filed " " "
2009 there were 3,531 appeals filed " " "
2010 there were 3,449 appeals filed " " " (switched to Independent -- April, 2010)
2011 there were 3,353 appeals filed Rick Scott, Governor (Rep.)
2012 there were 3,426 appeals filed " " "
2013 there were 3,280 appeals filed " " "
2014 there were 3,148 appeals filed " " "
2015 there were 2,952 appeals filed " " "
2016 there were 2,932 appeals filed " " "
2017 there were 2,815 appeals filed " " "
2018 As of 09/30/2018 there have been 1,957 filed appeals – on track with decline.
** These numbers were generated by going to: http://onlinedocketsdca.flcourts.org
To determine the number of cases filed, you must do a check on the last active court date, then continue back-date checking from the bottom of the page for that date searching up until you get a “hit” for a new case filing (i.e. either a “notice of appeal” or “petition” for Miami-Dade; “acknowledgment letter” for Broward). That last case number indicates the number of filed appeals for the year.
Author - Rex Russo
Over 35 years experience with Appeals, Real Estate Litigation, and Bankruptcy Actions and Adversary Defense.