The Florida Supreme Court recently amended the state’s rules governing civil procedure to facilitate judicial process with communication technology.
A general approval for court appearances and proceedings through technology now appears in Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.530 (Communication Technology) and applies unless another rule of procedure or general law governs.
The substantially rewritten Rule 2.530 defines communication technology and allows a court official to authorize its use upon a party’s written motion or at the discretion of the court official. The Florida Supreme Court has codified a standard preference for remote proceedings in that the court official is required to grant a motion to use communication technology for non-evidentiary proceedings scheduled for 30 minutes or less unless there’s good cause to deny it.
A party may file an objection to the request for appearance by technology in writing within 10 days or within a period directed by the court official.
For evidentiary hearings and trials, a motion to present testimony through communication technology is now required to establish good cause and specify whether each party consents to the form requested. The rule also allows the oath to be administered through audio-video technology by a person not physically present with the witness.
Depositions can be taken via technology under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.310 (Depositions Upon Oral Examination) when ordered by the court or without leave of court if stipulated by the parties. Technology use is allowed in mediation and arbitration by stipulation of the parties or by court order under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.700 (Rules Common to Mediation and Arbitration).
Changes Related to Email
Additionally, among other amendments to the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration, the Supreme Court amended Rule 2.516 (Service of Pleadings and Documents) to require non-represented parties to designate an email address for electronic service. This applies unless the party is in custody or is excused by the court clerk from email service because the party does not have an email account or regular internet access.
The Florida e-filing portal will also no longer attach PDF documents to the notice of electronic filing (NEF). Instead, it will provide a hyperlink to the document(s) submitted in place of the PDF document(s) in the NEF because of most email providers’ size restrictions. The current plan is for the link to be viable for seven days (excluding weekends) after the clerk has accepted the submission or it is abandoned.
These changes grant greater access to Florida courts for those involved while reducing costs and promoting efficiency.
Effective dates are October 1, 2022 for the amendments and October 29, 2022 for the e-filing portal changes.