December 15, 2009

Getting Through the Velvet Ropes of Florida’s Highest Court

While there are specific mandates under Florida law that require the Florida Supreme Court to grant review in certain instances, for most practitioners, getting your case heard by the Florida Supreme Court can seem as daunting as getting a front seat at the Kodak Theater during the Oscars.  Alas, Robin I. Bresky and Diana L. Martin have offered a practical guide for those practitioners seeking entry into the highest court in the state.  Robin Bresky co-authored Taking the Pathway of Discretionary Review Toward Florida’s Highest Court, which was featured in the November 2009 issue of the Florida Bar Journal.  The article is intended to help practitioners navigate the Florida Supreme Court’s red carpet and assess the likelihood of gaining access behind its discretionary velvet ropes.

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.120 sets out the procedural mandates necessary to invoke the Florida Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.  The more challenging task, however, becomes convincing the Court to exercise its jurisdiction.  For example, Florida Supreme Court Clerk statistics indicate that of the cases submitted to the high court for consideration, only 7% of cases seeking discretionary review, which do not involve cases of certified questions or certified conflicts, are granted review.  On the other hand, the Court grants review in approximately 67% of cases that involve certified questions and approximately 83% of certified conflict cases.  See, Florida Appellate Practice § 3.21.  Therefore, in cases where the district court has not certified a question or certified a conflict, the true hurdle remains convincing the Court to accept discretionary jurisdiction.

In addition to outlining the relevant constitutional provisions and appellate rules, the article discusses eight categories of discretionary review and provides practical guidance, including outlining timeframes for attorneys considering an appeal to Florida’s Highest Court.  As highlighted above, the article cites useful statistics that illustrate the types of cases that make it through and those that do not fare as well.  It proves helpful not only to appellate practitioners, but more so to any attorney that has found himself in the position of advising a client on a decision to seek review in Florida’s Highest Court.  Afterall, it will take more than a “Best Dressed” nod from Joan Rivers to get you through these velvet ropes.  For more on Taking the Pathway of Discretionary Review Toward Florida’s Highest Court, please visit for the complete article or refer to the November 2009 issue of the Florida Bar Journal.