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Amendments aimed at reducing delays in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights appeals.

The Florida Bar's Appellate Court Rules, Juvenile Court Rules, and Rules of Judicial Administration Committees have submitted to the Florida Supreme Court proposed rule amendments. The proposed amendments implement The Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability Recommendations to Reduce Delay in Juvenile Dependency and Termination of Parental Rights Appeals. The court invites all interested persons to comment on the proposed amendments, which are reproduced in full below, as well as online at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/proposed.shtml. An original and nine paper copies of all comments must be filed with the court on or before November 17, with a certificate of service verifying that a copy has been served on Scott M. Dimond, Chair, Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, 2665 S. Bayshore Dr., Penthouse 2, Miami 33133; David N. Silverstein, Chair, Juvenile Court Rules Committee, 501 E. Kennedy Blvd, Suite 1100, Tampa 33602-5242; John S. Mills, Chair, Appellate Court Rules Committee, 865 May St., Jacksonville 32204-3310; and Judge Martha C. Warner, Chair, Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability, Fourth District Court of Appeal, 1525 Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, West Palm Beach 33401, as well as a separate request for oral argument if the person filing the comment wishes to participate in oral argument, which may be scheduled in this case. The chairs have until December 15 to file a response to any comments filed with the court. Electronic copies of all comments also must be filed in accordance with the court's administrative order In re Mandatory Submission of Electronic Copies of Documents, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC04-84 (Sept. 13, 2004).

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA RULES OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION, THE FLORIDA RULES OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE, AND THE FLORIDA RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE--IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMMISSION ON DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY RECOMMENDATIONS, CASE NO. SC08-1724

RULE 2.250. TIME STANDARDS FOR TRIAL AND APPELLATE COURTS AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

(a) Time Standards. The following time standards are hereby established as a presumptively reasonable time period for the completion of cases in the trial and appellate courts of this state. It is recognized that there are cases that, because of their complexity, present problems that cause reasonable delays. However, most cases should be completed within the following time periods:

(1) [No change]

(2) Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal Time Standards: Rendering a decision--within 180 days of either oral argument or the submission of the case to the court panel for a decision without oral argument, except in juvenile dependency or termination of parental rights cases, in which a decision should be rendered within 60 days of either oral argument or submission of the case to the court panel for a decision without oral argument.

(3)-(4) [No change]

(b) [No change]

RULE 2.535. COURT REPORTING

(a)-(h) [No change]

(i) Juvenile Dependency and Termination of Parental Rights Cases. Transcription of hearings for appeals of orders in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases should, to the extent reasonably possible, be given priority consistent with rule 2.215(g).

RULE 8.276. APPEAL PROCEDURES

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.146 generally governs appeals in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases.

RULE 8.330. ADJUDICATORY HEARINGS

(a)-(d) [No change]

(e) Motion for Judgment of Dismissal. In all proceedings, if at the close of the evidence for the petitioner the court is of the opinion that the evidence is insufficient to warrant a finding of dependency, it may, and on the motion of any party shall, enter an order dismissing the petition for insufficiency of the evidence or find that the allegations in the petition against a party have not been sustained. If the court finds that the allegations in the petition against a party have not been sustained but does not dismiss the petition, the parties, including all parents, shall continue to receive pleadings, notices, and documents and to have the right to be heard. (f) Dismissal. If the court shall find that the allegations in the petition have not been sustained, it shall enter an order dismissing the case for insufficiency of the evidence or find that the allegations in the petition against a party have not been sustained. If the court finds that the allegations in the petition against a party have not been sustained but does not dismiss the petition, the parties, including all parents, shall continue to receive pleadings, notices, and documents and to have the right to be heard.

[begin strikethrough](g) Findings and Orders. In all cases in which dependency is established:[end strikethrough]

[begin strikethrough](1) The court shall enter a written order stating the legal basis for a finding of dependency, specifying the facts upon which the finding of dependency is based, and stating whether the court made the finding by a preponderance of the evidence or by clear and convincing evidence.[end strikethrough]

[begin strikethrough](2) The court shall advise the parents that if the parents fail to substantially comply with the case plan, their parental rights may be terminated.[end strikethrough]

[begin strikethrough](3) If the child is in out-of-home placement, the court shall inquire of the parents whether the parents have relatives who might be considered as placement for the child. The parents shall provide to the court and all parties identification and location information for the relatives.[end strikethrough]

Committee Notes

[No change]

RULE 8.332. ORDER FINDING DEPENDENCY

(a) Finding of Dependency. In all cases in which dependency is established, the court shall enter a written order stating the legal basis for a finding of dependency, specifying the facts upon which the finding of dependency is based, and stating whether the court made the finding by a preponderance of the evidence or by clear and convincing evidence. The court shall include the dates of the adjudicatory hearing, if any, in the order.

(b) Adjudication of Dependency. If the court finds that the child named in the petition is dependent, the court shall enter an order adjudicating the child dependent if the child is placed or will continue to be placed in an out-of-home placement. The court may enter an order adjudicating the child dependent if the child remains in or is returned to the home. The court shall conduct a disposition hearing.

(c) Withhold of Adjudication of Dependency.

(1) If the court finds that the child named in the petition is dependent, but finds that no action other than supervision in the child's home is required, it may enter an order briefly stating the facts on which its finding is based, but withholding an order of adjudication and placing the child in the child's home under the supervision of the department. The department shall file a case plan and the court shall review the case plan pursuant to these rules.

(2) If the court later finds that the parents of the child have not complied with the conditions of supervision imposed, including the case plan, the court may, after a hearing to establish the noncompliance, but without further evidence of the state of dependency, enter an order of adjudication and shall thereafter have full authority under this chapter to provide for the child as adjudicated. If the child is to remain in an out-of-home placement by order of the court, the court must adjudicate the child dependent. If the court adjudicates the child dependent, the court shall then conduct a disposition hearing.

RULE 8.525. ADJUDICATORY HEARINGS

(a)-(h) [No change]

(i) Final Judgment.

(1) Terminating Parental Rights. If the court finds after all of the evidence has been presented that the elements and one of the grounds for termination of parental rights have been established by clear and convincing evidence, the court shall enter a final judgment terminating parental rights and proceed with dispositional alternatives as provided by law. The order must contain the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which the decision was based. The court shall include the dates of the adjudicatory hearing in the order. The parties may stipulate, or the court may order, that parents or relatives of the parent whose rights are terminated be allowed to maintain some contact with the child. If the court orders continued contact, the nature and frequency of this contact must be stated in a written order. The visitation order may be reviewed on motion of any party, including a prospective adoptive parent, and must be reviewed by the court at the time the child is placed for adoption.

(2)-(3) [No change]

FORM 8.983. ADJUDICATION ORDER AND JUDGMENT OF INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

ORDER OF ADJUDICATION AND JUDGMENT OF INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

THIS CAUSE came before this court on --(all dates of the adjudicatory hearing)-- for an adjudicatory hearing on the Petition for Termination of Parental Rights filed by --(name)-- Present before the court were:

--(Name)-- , Petitioner --(Name)-- , Attorney for the petitioner --(Name)-- , Attorney for the department --(Name)-- , Department caseworker --(Name)-- , Child --(Name)-- , Attorney for Child --(Name)-- , Mother --(Name)-- , Attorney for mother --(Name)-- , Father of .....(child)..... --(Name)-- , Attorney for father --(Name)-- , Guardian ad litem --(Name)-- , Attorney for guardian ad litem --(Name)-- , Legal custodian --(Name)-- , Attorney for legal custodian --(Name)-- , Other--

The court has carefully considered and weighed the testimony of all witnesses. The court has received and reviewed all exhibits.

COMMENT: Add the following only if necessary.

The petitioner has sought termination of the parental rights of --(parent(s)) who is/are subject of petition)--

The court finds that the parent(s), --(name(s))--, has/have --(list grounds proved)--, under chapter 39, Florida Statutes. The grounds were proved by clear and convincing evidence. Further, the court finds that termination of parental rights of the parent(s), --name(s)--, is clearly in the manifest best interests of the child(ren). The findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting this decision are as follows:

1. At all stages of these proceedings the parent(s) was/were advised of his/her/their right to legal counsel, or was/were in fact represented by counsel.

2. On or about --(date(s))--, the following occurred: --(acts which were basis for dependency or TPR, if filed directly)--

3. The mother has --(grounds for TPR)-- the minor child(ren) within the meaning and intent of section 39.806, Florida Statutes, in that: --(findings that form the statutory basis for grounds)--

4. The father has --(grounds for TPR)-- the minor child(ren) within the meaning and intent of section 39.806, Florida Statutes, in that: --(findings that form the statutory basis for grounds)--

5. The minor child(ren) to whom --(parent's(s') name(s))-- parental rights are being terminated are at substantial risk of significant harm. Termination of parental rights is the least restrictive means to protect the child(ren) from harm.

6. Under the provisions of sections 39.810(1)-(11), Florida Statutes, it is in the manifest best interests of the child(ren) for parental rights of --(name(s))-- to be terminated for the reasons below. The court has considered all relevant factors and finds as follows:

(a) Regarding any suitable permanent custody arrangement with a relative of the child, the court finds--

(b) Regarding the ability and disposition of the parent or parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under state law instead of medical care, and other material needs of the child, the court finds--

(c) Regarding the capacity of the parent or parents to care for the child to the extent that the child's safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health will not be endangered upon the child's return home, the court finds--

(d) Regarding the present mental and physical health needs of the child and such future needs of the child to the extent that such future needs can be ascertained based on the present condition of the child, the court finds--

(e) Regarding the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the child and the child's parent or parents, siblings, and other relatives, and the degree of harm to the child that would arise from the termination of parental rights and duties, the court finds--

(f) Regarding the likelihood of an older child remaining in long-term foster care upon termination of parental rights, due to emotional or behavioral problems or any special needs of the child, the court finds--

(g) Regarding the child's ability to form a significant relationship with a parental substitute and the likelihood that the child will enter into a more stable and permanent family relationship as a result of permanent termination of parental rights and duties, the court finds--

(h) Regarding the length of time that the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity, the court finds--

(i) Regarding the depth of the relationship existing between the child and present custodian, the court finds--

(j) Regarding the reasonable preferences and wishes of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference, the court finds--

(k) Regarding the recommendations for the child provided by the child's guardian ad litem or the legal representative, the court finds--

(l) Regarding other relevant factors including --, the court finds--

COMMENT: Add items 7, 8, and 9 as applicable.

7. Under section 39.811(6)(--), Florida Statutes, the court terminates the parental rights of only --(parent whose rights are being terminated)-- as to the minor child(ren), --(child(ren)'s name(s))-- Specifically, the court finds that --(specific findings of fact under section 39.811(6), Florida Statutes)--

8. Under sections 39.509(5) and 39.811(7)(a), Florida Statutes, the court finds that continued grandparental visitation is not in the best interests of the child(ren) or that such visitation would interfere with the permanency goals for the child(ren) for the following reasons--

9. Under section 39.811(7)(b), Florida Statutes, the court finds that although parental rights are being terminated, the best interests of --(names of child(ren) to which this provision applies)-- support continued communication or contact by --(names of parents, siblings, or relatives of the parent whose rights are terminated and to which this provision applies)-- except as provided above. The nature and frequency of the communication or contact shall be as follows -- It may be reviewed on motion of any party or an identified prospective adoptive parent.

THEREFORE, after weighing the credibility of the witnesses, weighing all statutory factors, and based on the findings of fact and conclusions of law above, the court hereby ORDERS AND ADJUDGES THAT:

1. The petition filed by --(name)-- is granted as to the parent(s), --(name(s))--

2. The parental rights of the father, --(name)--, and of the mother, --(name)--, to the child, --(name)--, are hereby terminated under section 39.806(--), Florida Statutes. COMMENT: Repeat the above for each child and parent, as necessary.

3. Under sections 39.811(2) and (5), Florida Statutes, the child(ren), --(name(s))--, are placed in the custody of --(agency)-- for the purpose of subsequent adoption.

4. The 30-day permanency plan required by section 39.811(8), Florida Statutes, shall be filed and heard at --(time)-- on --(date)-- in --(location)--

DONE AND ORDERED on --(date)--, in --(city and county)--, Florida.

Circuit Judge

NOTICE

Under section 39.815, Florida Statutes, any child, any parent, guardian ad litem, or legal custodian of any child, any other party to the proceeding who is affected by an order of the court, or the depart ment may appeal to the appropriate District Court of Appeal within the time and in the manner prescribed by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, which is 30 days from the date this order is rendered (filed). Copies to:--

FORM 8.984. JUDGMENT OF VOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

ADJUDICATORY ORDER AND FINAL JUDGMENT OF TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS AND GUARDIANSHIP

THIS CAUSE came before this court on --(all dates of the adjudicatory hearing)-- for an adjudicatory hearing on the petition for termination of parental rights filed by --(name)-- Present before the court were:--

--(Name)-- , Petitioner --(Name)-- , Attorney for the petitioner --(Name)-- , Attorney for the department --(Name)-- , Department/agency caseworker --(Name)-- , Child --(Name)-- , Attorney/Attorney ad litem for Child --(Name)-- , Mother --(Name)-- , Attorney for mother --(Name)-- , Father of -- (child)-- --(Name)-- , Attorney for father --(Name)-- , Guardian ad litem --(Name)-- , Attorney for guardian ad litem --(Name)-- , Legal custodian --(Name)-- , Attorney for legal custodian --(Name)-- , Other--

[begin strikethrough]The mother, --(name)--, and the father(s), --(name(s))--, executed voluntary surrenders of their parental rights for the minor child(ren), --(name(s))--, which are accepted by the court without objection.[end strikethrough]

--The mother, --(name)--, executed a voluntary surrender of her parental rights for the minor child(ren), --(name(s))--, which is accepted by the court without objection. COMMENT: Repeat the following as necessary.

--The father, --(name)--, executed a voluntary surrender of his parental rights for the minor child(ren), --(name(s))--, which is accepted by the court without objection.

The court has carefully considered the testimony of witnesses, reviewed the exhibits, reviewed the file, heard argument of counsel, and considered recommendations and arguments of all parties. The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parents, --(names)--, have surrendered their parental rights to the minor child(ren) under section 39.806(1)(a), Florida Statutes, and that termination of parental rights is in the manifest best interest of the child(ren). The specific facts and findings supporting this decision are as follows:

1. That the mother, --(name)--, -- was -- was not personally served with the summons and the petition.

COMMENT: Service is not required if surrender was signed before filing of petition.

2. That the father, --(name)--, -- was -- was not personally served with the summons and the petition.

COMMENT: Service is not required if surrender was signed before filing of petition.

3. That the parents were advised of their right to counsel in all prior dependency court proceedings which they attended. The mother has been represented by legal counsel, --(name)--, starting on or about --(date)-- The father has been represented by legal counsel, --(name)--, starting on or about --(date)--

4. The mother, --(name)--, freely, knowingly, voluntarily, and -- with -- without advice of legal counsel executed an affidavit and acknowledgment of surrender, consent, and waiver of notice on --(date)--, for termination of her parental rights to the minor child(ren), under section 39.806(1)(a), Florida Statutes.

5. The father, --(name)--, freely, knowingly, voluntarily, and -- with -- without advice of legal counsel executed an affidavit and acknowledgment of surrender, consent, and waiver of notice on --(date)--, for termination of [begin strikethrough]her[end strikethrough] his parental rights to the minor child(ren), under section 39.806(1)(a), Florida Statutes.

6. That at all times relevant to this action the interests of this/these child(ren) has/have been represented by a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem, --(name)--, -- agrees -- does not agree that it is in the best interest of the child(ren) for parental rights to be terminated in this cause.

COMMENT: Guardian ad litem not required in voluntary surrender.

7. Under the provisions of sections 39.810(1)-(11), Florida Statutes, it is in the manifest best interest of the child(ren) for parental rights to be terminated for the following reasons: [begin strikethrough]--(findings as to each statutory factor)--[end strikethrough]

(a) Regarding any suitable permanency custody arrangement with a relative of the child, the court finds--

(b) Regarding the ability and disposition of the parent or parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under state law instead of medical care, and other materials needs of the child, the court finds--

(c) Regarding the capacity of the parent or parents to care for the child to the extent that the child's safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health will not be endangered upon the child's return home, the court finds--

(d) Regarding the present mental and physical health needs of the child and such future needs of the child to the extent that such future needs can be ascertained based on the present condition of the child, the court finds--

(e) Regarding the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the child and the child's parent or parents, siblings, and other relatives, and the degree of harm to the child that would arise from the termination of parental rights and duties, the court finds--

(f) Regarding the likelihood of an older child remaining in long-term foster care upon termination of parental rights, due to emotional or behavioral problems or any special needs of the child, the court finds--

(g) Regarding the child's ability to form a significant relationship with a parental substitute and the likelihood that the child will enter into a more stable and permanent family relationship as a result of permanent termination of parental rights and duties, the court finds--

(h) Regarding the length of time that the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desireability of maintaining continuity, the court finds--

(i) Regarding the depth of the relationship existing between the child and present custodian, the court finds--

(j) Regarding the reasonable preferences and wishes of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference, the court finds--

(k) Regarding the recommendations for the child provided by the child's guardian ad litem or the legal representative, the court finds--

(l) Regarding other relevant factors including --, the court finds --

THEREFORE, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that:

1. The petition for termination of parental rights is GRANTED.

2. [begin strikethrough]The parental rights of the parents, --(name(s)) --, to the child, --(name) --, are terminated.[end strikethrough] The parental rights of the father, -- (name)--, and of the mother, --(name)--, to the child, --(name)--, are hereby terminated under section 39.806(--), Florida Statutes.

COMMENT: Repeat the above for each child and parent on petition.

3. The child(ren), --(name(s)) --, is/are hereby placed in the permanent care and custody of --(agency name) -- for subsequent adoption.

4. A hearing for the department to provide a plan for permanency for the child(ren) shall be held on --(date)--, within 30 days of rendering of order, at --(time)-- DONE AND ORDERED on --(date) --, in -- County, Florida.

-- Circuit Judge

Copies furnished to: --

NOTICE

Under section 39.815, Florida Statutes, any child, any parent, guardian ad litem, or legal custodian of any child, any other party to the proceeding who is affected by an order of the court, or the department may appeal to the appropriate District Court of Appeal within the time and in the manner prescribed by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, which is 30 days from the date this order is rendered (filed).

RULE 9.130. PROCEEDINGS TO REVIEW NON-FINAL ORDERS AND SPECIFIED FINAL ORDERS

(a) Applicability.

(1) [No change]

(2) Appeals of non-final orders in criminal cases shall be as prescribed by rule 9.140. Appeals of non-final orders in dependency and termination of parental rights cases shall be limited to those non-final orders prescribed in rule 9.146 and those non-final orders specifically enumerated in this rule.

(3)-(6) [No change]

(b)-(h) [No change]

Committee Notes

[No change]

RULE 9.146. APPEAL PROCEEDINGS IN JUVENILE DEPENDENCY AND TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS CASES AND CASES INVOLVING FAMILIES AND CHILDREN IN NEED OF SERVICES

(a) Applicability. Appeals proceedings in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases and cases involving families and children in need of services shall be as in civil cases except [begin strikethrough]as modified by[end strikethrough] to the extent those rules are modified by this rule.

(b) Who May Appeal. Any child, any parent, guardian ad litem, or [begin strikethrough]legal custodian of any child [end strikethrough], any other party to the proceeding affected by an order of the lower tribunal, or the appropriate state agency as provided by law may appeal to the appropriate court within the time and in the manner prescribed by these rules.

(c) Appealable Orders.

(1) Final Orders. For purposes of this rule, final orders include those that

(a) adjudicate a child dependent;

(b) dismiss a dependency petition;

(c) permanently place a child and are intended to continue until the child reaches the age of majority;

(d) adjudicate termination of parental rights;

(e) dismiss a petition for termination of parental rights;

(f) adjudicate a child or family in need of services; and

(g) dismiss a petition for adjudication of a child or family in need of services.

(2) Non-Final Orders. Appeals of non-final orders in dependency and termination of parental rights cases are limited to those that

(a) are rendered at the conclusion of a shelter hearing;

(b) require or approve a change of placement into, out of, or within foster care;

(c) deny motions to amend the child's case plan;

(d) commit the child to a residential treatment facility;

(e) authorize or approve the administration of psychotropic medications to a child;

(f) deny independent living services;

(g) deny appointment of an attorney ad litem;

(h) deny a child access to records pertaining to the child's case, property, or public benefits, and

(i) pertain to a child who will turn 18 within 24 months of rendition of the non-final order.

The procedure for review of the specifically enumerated non-final orders is in accordance with rule 9.130(b)-(h). Review of non-final orders not specifically enumerated in this rule shall be by an original proceeding filed in compliance with rule 9.100.

([begin strikethrough]e[end strikethrough]d) Stay of Proceedings.

(1) Application. Except as provided by general law and in subdivision ([begin strikethrough]e[end stikethrough]d)(2) of this rule, a party seeking to stay a final or non-final order pending review shall file a motion in the lower tribunal, which shall have continuing jurisdiction, in its discretion, to grant, modify, or deny such relief, after considering the welfare and best interest of the child. Review of orders entered by lower tribunals under this rule shall be by the court on motion.

(2) Termination of Parental Rights. The taking of an appeal shall not operate as a stay in any case unless pursuant to an order of the [begin strikethrough]court[end strikethrough]lower tribunal, except that a termination of parental rights order [begin strikethrough]with placement of[end strikethrough] that places the child with a licensed child-placing agency or the Department of Children and Family Services for subsequent adoption shall be suspended while the appeal is pending, [begin strikethrough]but[end strikethrough]. The child shall continue in custody under the order until the appeal is decided.

([begin strikethrough]d[end strikethrough]e) Retention of Jurisdiction. Transmittal of the record to the appellate court does not remove the jurisdiction of the lower tribunal to conduct judicial reviews or other proceedings related to the health and welfare of the child pending appeal.

([begin strikethrough]e[end strikethrough]f) References to Child or Parents. When the parent or child is a party to the appeal, the appeal shall be docketed and any papers filed in the court shall be titled with the initials, but not the name, of the child or parent and the court case number. All references to the child or parent in briefs, other papers, and the decision of the court shall be by initials.

([begin strikethrough]f[end strikethrough]g) Confidentiality. All papers shall remain sealed in the office of the clerk of the court when not in use by the court, and shall not be open to inspection except by the parties and their counsel, or as otherwise ordered.

(h) Special Procedures and Time Limitations Applicable to Appeals of Final Orders in Dependency or Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings.

(1) Applicability. This subdivision applies only to appeals of final orders to the district courts of appeal.

(2) The Record.

(A) Contents. The record shall be prepared in accordance with rule 9.200, except as modified by this subdivision.

(B) Transcripts of Proceedings. The appellant shall file a designation to the court reporter, including the name(s) of the individual court reporter(s), if applicable, with the notice of appeal. The designation shall be served on the court reporter on the date of filing and shall state that appeal is from a final order of termination of parental rights or of dependency, and that the court reporter shall provide the transcript(s) designated within 20 days of the date of service. Within 20 days of the date of service of the designation, the court reporter shall transcribe and file with the clerk of the lower tribunal the original transcripts and sufficient copies for the Department of Children and Family Services, the guardian ad litem, and all indigent parties. If extraordinary reasons prevent the reporter from preparing the transcript(s) within the 20 days, the reporter shall request an extension of time, shall state the number of additional days requested, and shall state the extraordinary reasons that would justify the extension.

(C) Directions to the Clerk, Duties of the Clerk, Preparation and Transmittal of the Record. The appellant shall file directions to the clerk with the notice of appeal. The clerk shall transmit the record to the court within 5 days of the date the court reporter files the transcript(s) or, if a designation to the court reporter has not been filed, within 5 days of the filing of the notice of appeal. When the record is transmitted to the court, the clerk shall simultaneously serve copies of the record to the Department of Children and Family Services, the guardian ad litem, the indigent parties or counsel appointed to represent indigent parties, and shall simultaneously serve copies of the index to all non-indigent parties, and, upon their request, copies of the record or portions thereof at the cost prescribed by law.

(3) Briefs.

(A) In General. Briefs shall be prepared and filed in accordance with rule 9.210(a)-(e), (g), and (h).

(B) Times for Service. The initial brief shall be served within 20 days of service of the record on appeal or the index to the record on appeal. The answer brief shall be served within 20 days of service of the initial brief. The reply brief, if any, shall be served within 10 days of the service of the answer brief.

(4) Motions.

(A) Motions for Appointment of Appellate Counsel; Authorization of Payment of Transcription Costs. A motion for the appointment of appellate counsel, when authorized by general law, and a motion for authorization of payment of transcription costs, when appropriate, shall be filed with the notice of appeal. The motion and a copy of the notice of appeal shall be served on the presiding judge in the lower tribunal. The presiding judge shall promptly enter an order on the motion.

(B) Motions to Withdraw as Counsel. If appellate counsel seeks leave to withdraw from representation of an indigent parent, the motion to withdraw shall be served on the parent and shall contain a certification that, after a conscientious review of the record, the attorney has determined in good faith that there are no meritorious grounds on which to base an appeal. The parent shall be permitted to file a brief pro se, or through subsequently retained counsel, within 20 days of the issuance of an order granting the motion to withdraw.

(C) Motions for Extensions of Time. An extension of time will be granted only for extraordinary circumstances in which the extension is necessary to preserve the constitutional rights of a party, or in which substantial evidence exists to demonstrate that without the extension the child's best interests will be harmed. The extension will be limited to the number of days necessary to preserve the rights of the party or the best interests of the child. The motion shall state that the appeal is from a final order of termination of parental rights or of dependency, and shall set out the extraordinary circumstances that necessitate an extension, the amount of time requested, and the effect an extension will have on the progress of the case.

(5) Oral Argument. A request for oral argument shall be in a separate document served by a party not later than the time when the first brief of that party is due.

(6) Rehearing; Rehearing En Banc; Clarification; Certification. Motions for rehearing, rehearing en banc, clarification, and certification shall be in accordance with rules 9.330 and 9.331, except that no response to these motions is permitted unless ordered by the court.

(7) The Mandate. The clerk shall issue such mandate or process as may be directed by the court as soon as practicable.

([begin strikethrough]g[end strikethrough]i) Expedited Review. The court shall give priority to appeals under this rule.

Committee Notes

1996 Adoption. [No change]

2006 Amendment. [No change]

2008 Amendment. The rule was substantially amended following the release of the Study of

Delay in Dependency/Parental Termination Appeals Supplemental Report and Recommendations (June 2007) by the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability. The amendments are generally intended to facilitate expedited filing and resolution of appellate cases arising from dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings in the lower tribunal. Subdivision (h)(4)(A) authorizes motions requesting appointment of appellate counsel only when a substantive provision of general law provides for appointment of appellate counsel. Section 27.5304(6), Florida Statutes (2007), limits appointment of appellate counsel for indigent parents to appeals from final orders adjudicating or denying dependency or termination of parental rights. In all other instances, section 27.5304(6), Florida Statutes, requires appointed trial counsel to prosecute or defend appellate cases arising from a dependency or parental termination proceeding in the lower tribunal.

RULE 9.340. MANDATE

(a) [No change]

(b) Extension of Time for Issuance of Mandate. Unless otherwise provided by these rules, i[begin strikethrough]I[end strikethrough]f a timely motion for rehearing, clarification, or certification has been filed, the time for issuance of the mandate or other process shall be extended until 15 days after rendition of the order denying the motion, or, if granted, until 15 days after the cause has been fully determined.

(c) [No change]

Committee Notes

[No change]

RULE 9.430. PROCEEDINGS BY INDIGENTS.

(a)-(b) [No change]

(c) Parties in Juvenile Dependency and Termination of Parental Rights Cases; Presumption. In cases involving dependency or termination of parental rights, an appellate court may, in its discretion, presume that any party who has been declared indigent for purposes of proceedings by the lower tribunal remains indigent, in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

Committee Notes

[No change]
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Title Annotation:Notice
Publication:Florida Bar News
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Oct 15, 2008
Words:5804
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