My Comments to the Florida Courts Travelling Road Show

I don't know how well they publicized yesterday's meeting in Coral Gables (see Florida Courts Hearing on the Future in Coral Gables Tomorrow), but it wasn't all that well attended — not much more than 20 people. But the presentations were fairly interesting.

I had planned to hold my peace, as it seems to me that there are already court committees working on all the major judicial tech issues (and, from what I can tell, doing a very good job of it too), but given the shortness of the queue I figured I might as well make a plea for three small things I'd love to see the Florida Supreme Court do.

1. Mandate web-friendly citation forms and document formats for all state judicial opinions. This would include web friendly file naming, formatting, and paragraph numbering. This would cost almost nothing.

2. Provide law clerks for the trial court judges (this would require an appropriation from the Legislature) — most states have them, our appellate courts have them, but our hard-working trial court judges don't get their own law clerks. (Disclosure: this proposal would create more jobs for our graduates, but I think it's a very good idea on its own merits — judges who are in court need the back-office help.)

3. (This is a pipe dream) Remove unreasonable barriers to entry of lawyers who move here from out of state. Florida's rules are an archaic barrier to entry in a national economy and globalized world. Unlike just about every other state, there are no provisions for experienced lawyers to waive into the Florida bar. Worse, the application process for experienced lawyers requires so much paperwork that it would be struck down as a barrier to entry if the anti-trust law applied. I know the bar is against this, but I think it would serve the public interest.

The panel took notes on the first point, agreed vigorously if not particularly optimistically with the second, and were polite about the third — but I'm not holding my breath.

You can make your own comments in writing by Nov. 1, to:

Task Force on Judicial Branch Planning
Office of the State Courts Administrator
Strategic Planning
Florida Supreme Court
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1900

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2 Responses to My Comments to the Florida Courts Travelling Road Show

  1. Hayden O'Byrne says:

    What would it take to host the forms on the University of Miami law school website? I am sure I could get some alumni to help out, if you could clear up the administrative side and perhaps get a work study student I think this could be done fairly easily.

  2. michael says:

    I’m not sure what forms you mean? If you mean the cases, the order has to come from the court as there are many many decisions, and the idea would be to create standards that people could rely on. One simple matter, for example, is numbering paragraphs, so that decisions can be cited by paragraph rather than page, making them independent of the type face or formatting.

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