Navigating the Differences in Circuit Court Appellate Jurisdiction for Nonfinal Orders.

Author:Kolinsky, Heather M.

Most attorneys are familiar with the rules and jurisdiction of the district courts of appeal and the Florida Supreme Court; however, many may be unaware of the differences that exist when appellate jurisdiction shifts to the circuit courts of our state. Jurisdiction in those courts emanates from general law, and creates some demonstrable differences for those seeking review from the decisions of the county courts of this state. This article addresses one of those distinctions, review of non-final orders issued by county courts.

Appellate Review in the District Courts of Appeal and Circuit Courts

* The District Courts of Appeal--The district courts of appeal have both original and appellate jurisdiction to review decisions of the circuit courts. (1) While district courts of appeal have jurisdiction to hear appeals as of right from final judgments or orders of the trial courts, including those not directly appealable to a circuit court, jurisdiction to review non-final orders is conveyed to the district courts of appeal by the Supreme Court. (2) A district court of appeal may also issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and "other writs necessary to the complete exercise of its jurisdiction." (3) And, "[t]o the extent necessary to dispose of all issues in a cause properly before it, a district court of appeal may exercise any of the appellate jurisdiction of the circuit courts." (4)

* The Circuit Courts--Unlike the district courts of appeals' jurisdiction, Fla. Const. art. V, [section]5, gives the legislature the "exclusive authority to provide for the manner of appeals from the county court to the circuit court." (5) Article V, [section]5(b), provides that the "circuit courts shall have original jurisdiction not vested in the county courts, and jurisdiction of appeals when provided by general law." (6) The same section also provides that circuit courts shall have the power to issue writs of mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition, habeas corpus, and "all writs necessary or proper to complete exercise of their jurisdiction." (7)

The legislature conveyed general appellate jurisdiction to the circuit courts in F.S. [section]26.012. That statute provides:

Circuit courts shall have jurisdiction of appeals from county courts except appeals of county court orders or judgments declaring invalid a state statute or a provision of the State Constitution and except orders or judgments of a county court which are certified by the county court to the district court of appeal to be of great public importance and which are accepted by the district court of appeal for review. (8)

Thus, a plain reading of the statute reflects that circuit courts have appellate jurisdiction of appeals from county court, other than two specifically enumerated exceptions.

Jurisdiction to Consider Non-Final Orders

Non-final orders are reviewable on appeal in the district courts of appeal under Fla. R. App. P. 9.130. (9) Review of non-final orders not enumerated in Rule 9.130 is available via Rule 9.100. (10) Ifa particular type of order is not enumerated in Rule 9.130, then a party must seek certiorari review via the appellate court's original jurisdiction. (11) Rule 9.130 also applies to "appeals to the circuit court of non-final orders when provided by general law." (12) Appeals of non-final orders in criminal cases is prescribed by Rule 9.140. (13)

Section 26.012 does not make the same distinction Rule 9.130 makes, the statute does not specifically enumerate non-final orders subject to appellate review and require review via extraordinary writs for other non-final orders not enumerated in the rule. (14) Instead, the statute and the related constitutional provision convey general appellate jurisdiction upon the circuit courts for county court orders. (15) As the Second District Court of Appeal observed in State v. Bjorkland, 924 So. 2d 971, 974 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006), the "constitution makes no distinction between appeals from final and interlocutory orders when it comes to appeals from county court to circuit court."

In Bjorkland, the Second District reviewed the impact of the state's decision to seek certiorari review of a matter that was a proper subject of appellate review in the circuit court under F.S. [section]924.07(1)(h). (16) The court explained that while [section]924.07 was an...

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