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The Florida Bar, and its members as officers of the courts, are obliged to support the independence of the judiciary and its role in the administration of justice. They are also obligated to or should defend the courts in the arena of public opinion.

Given that support, is it too much to ask that appellate courts give reasons for all of their decisions and not hide behind the simple denial of a petition for writ of certiorari or per curiam affirmed in an appeal?

Lawyers spend countless hours on appeals, and their clients spend a lot of money. When no reason is given to the losing side in a denial or PCA, the lawyer wonders why and cannot give a good explanation to the client. The client believes either the lawyer misled the client and wasted the fee money, or the appellate court acted arbitrarily and capriciously, or both.

When an appellate court does not give a reason for its decision, it weakens, rather than illuminates, stare decisis. The appellate court also suffers in the court of public opinion for the lack of transparency, especially given the Sunshine Laws that cover other entities of Florida government.

It is time for the appellate rules to be changed to require reasons for all appellate decisions and, if the work burden is too much, to hire more judges. The status quo is unacceptable if the court is to continue to enjoy the independence, respect, and deference given to it.

Richard N. Friedman

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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Friedman, Richard N.
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Apr 15, 2012
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