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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Civil Division Case Management Unit

Civil Case Management Unit

Law Scale on Blue Background

On April 13, 2021, Florida Supreme Court AOSC 20-23 Amendment 12 established active case management protocols for managing judicial caseloads. Following this directive, the Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge of the Miami-Dade Courts, signed local Administrative Orders that established active case management protocols for County and Circuit Civil cases. The protocols are outlined in detail in local Administrative Order 21-08; and AO 21-09, Attorneys and self-represented litigants planning to file or currently involved in County and Circuit Civil cases are urged to review and follow these AOs carefully.

In every eligible existing County and Circuit Civil cases, attorneys and litigants will be required to report on the status of their cases by submitting a Case Management Report and obtaining a Case Management Order from the presiding judge. For New Cases: a case management order must be entered in every case filed after April 30, 2021 within 30 days after the last defendant is served and no more than 120 days after the filing of the action. For existing cases filed before April 30, 2021, within 45 days after the stay or the moratorium ends or within 30 days after service of the complaint on the last of all named defendants (whichever date is later), but in no event later than December 3, 2021.

Previously, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit was one of five jurisdictions nationwide selected to participate in a Pilot Case Management project under a State Justice Initiative Grant, following recommendations by the Conference of Chief Justices, the National Center for State Courts, and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. These innovations were designed to meet the challenges of contemporary civil caseloads by taking advantage of modern technologies and highly trained court staff to provide effective oversight and timely intervention to move civil cases to resolution by supporting the work of the judge.

The goal was to develop a cost and time-effective system by matching task to skill level. Case management from inception involves active policing of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure deadlines, looking for necessary defaults, policing discovery and motions which were filed and not set, making sure that delays on either side of the case do not occur, and as soon as a case was ready for resolution, it is set for trial. It is geared towards providing timely access to the court consistently as needed.

The implementation of these essential case management techniques was designed to equip judges with the resources needed to guide these civil cases through the appropriate court processes, resulting in timely and efficient disposition of cases. Tailored case management plans were developed to recognize the needs of each case by triaging cases into three distinct pathways (streamlined, standard, and complex) and cases were assigned to the appropriate pathway at filing and the appropriateness of that assignment through monitored through case resolution. The project resulted in an 86% improvement in case closed within time standards and cases closed five months earlier than the control group cases.

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