October 14, 2019
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       Florida Senate - 2010                                     SB 130
       
       
       
       By Senator Altman
       
       
       
       
       24-00065A-10                                           2010130__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to judicial proceedings in civil
    3         cases; amending s. 25.073, F.S.; conforming provisions
    4         to changes made by the act; providing for the chief
    5         judge of a judicial circuit, subject to approval by
    6         the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to establish a
    7         program for retired justices or judges to preside over
    8         civil cases and trials upon written request of one or
    9         more parties; providing for compensation of such
   10         justices or judges; providing for an additional court
   11         cost and for deposit thereof; amending s. 44.104,
   12         F.S.; providing for the procedures governing voluntary
   13         trial resolution to include a jury trial if there is a
   14         right to a jury trial and if at least one party has
   15         requested a jury trial; providing an effective date.
   16  
   17  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   18  
   19         Section 1. Subsection (3) of section 25.073, Florida
   20  Statutes, is amended, and subsection (4) is added to that
   21  section, to read:
   22         25.073 Retired justices or judges assigned to temporary
   23  duty; additional compensation; appropriation.—
   24         (3) Payments required under subsection (2) this section
   25  shall be made from moneys to be appropriated for this purpose.
   26         (4)In addition to subsections (1)-(3), the chief judge of
   27  a judicial circuit may, subject to approval by the Chief
   28  Justice, establish a program for the optional use of retired
   29  justices or judges to preside over civil cases and trials
   30  pursuant to this subsection. The program shall be developed and
   31  operated so as to ensure that one or more parties to the lawsuit
   32  shall pay the cost of the retired justice or judge. The use of
   33  this program shall in no way diminish or otherwise affect the
   34  power and authority of the Chief Justice to assign justices or
   35  judges, including consenting retired justices or judges, to
   36  temporary duty in any court for which the justice or judge is
   37  qualified or to delegate to a chief judge of a judicial circuit
   38  the power to assign justices or judges for duty in that circuit.
   39  At a minimum, the program developed under this subsection shall
   40  be operated as follows:
   41         (a)1.Any party to the action may request a retired justice
   42  or judge to hear one or more motions. The request must be in
   43  writing and addressed to the chief judge of the circuit. The
   44  party may seek appointment of a retired justice or judge to hear
   45  more than one motion in that case or motions in multiple cases,
   46  or a lawyer or law firm may seek appointment of a retired
   47  justice or judge to hear motions in multiple cases. The chief
   48  judge of the circuit shall not appoint a retired justice or
   49  judge if the trial judge assigned to the case can accommodate
   50  the hearing or hearings within the following 2 weeks.
   51         2.All parties to an action may jointly request a retired
   52  justice or judge to conduct the trial of the action, including a
   53  trial by special setting. The chief judge of the circuit shall
   54  not appoint a retired justice or judge unless all parties agree
   55  to the request and sufficient court resources are available to
   56  accommodate the request.
   57         (b)1.A party or parties seeking to use a retired justice
   58  or judge shall submit a written request to the chief judge,
   59  stating the reasons for the request.
   60         2.Allowable grounds for use of a retired justice or judge
   61  include the unavailability of hearing time, scheduling
   62  difficulties, difficulties with the availability of witnesses,
   63  or the need to expedite the case. A request shall not be granted
   64  if it is apparent that a party is seeking an appointment only in
   65  order to avoid the assigned trial judge.
   66         3.The chief judge shall consider the reasons for the
   67  request and shall grant or deny the request in writing within 5
   68  days.
   69         4.Only retired justices or judges who are on the list that
   70  is approved by the Chief Justice are eligible for appointment in
   71  this program. Assignment of such retired justices or judges
   72  shall be made in accordance with current judge assignment
   73  procedures in each judicial circuit. A party may not seek or
   74  request that a particular retired justice or judge be appointed.
   75         5.An appointment shall be for the hearing time requested.
   76  However, the chief judge may appoint a retired justice or judge
   77  to hear multiple hearings in 1 day involving related or
   78  unrelated cases.
   79         (c)1.Upon granting a request, the chief judge of the
   80  applicable judicial circuit shall estimate the number of days
   81  required of the retired justice or judge to complete the
   82  hearings or trial and shall inform the requesting party or
   83  parties of the cost.
   84         2.The party or parties who requested the appointment of a
   85  retired justice or judge shall prepay the per diem rate of the
   86  retired justice or judge before the hearing or trial based on
   87  the per diem rate then in effect. The minimum charge for
   88  assignment of a retired justice or judge under this subsection
   89  shall be the per diem rate for 1 day, and any required time over
   90  1 day shall be charged in 1-day increments for any additional
   91  days at the per diem rate. The chief judge shall set a payment
   92  deadline sufficiently prior to the date of the hearing or trial
   93  so that the appointment may be timely canceled if prepayment is
   94  not received at least 1 business day before the scheduled
   95  hearing or trial.
   96         3.For purposes of this subsection, the term “per diem
   97  rate” means the cost to the state of 1 day of service by a
   98  retired justice or judge and shall be calculated by adding the
   99  regular daily rate set by the Chief Justice for retired justices
  100  or judges, plus the employer’s share of required federal taxes,
  101  and plus, if applicable, the justice’s or judge’s travel and
  102  other costs reimbursable under s. 112.061.
  103         4.Payments made by a party or parties under this program
  104  shall be deposited into the Operating Trust Fund within the
  105  state courts system under s. 25.3844.
  106         5.Once a hearing or trial is scheduled, prepayment is made
  107  as required under this subsection, and the state is required to
  108  make payment to the retired justice or judge, there shall be no
  109  refund. A refund is authorized only if the assigned retired
  110  justice or judge becomes unavailable for reasons unrelated to
  111  the conduct of the parties.
  112         6.A person who has been relieved of the requirement to
  113  prepay costs in an action may not be relieved of the requirement
  114  under this subsection to prepay the costs of a retired justice
  115  or judge prior to a request being granted.
  116         (d)1.If a party seeks appointment of a retired justice or
  117  judge to hear one or more motions, the cost of the retired
  118  justice or judge shall not be taxable against a nonprevailing
  119  party.
  120         2.If all parties sought the appointment of a retired
  121  justice or judge to hear motions or conduct the trial, the
  122  amounts paid for the retired justice or judge by a prevailing
  123  party shall be taxable against a nonprevailing party, as
  124  provided in chapter 57 and in the Florida Rules of Civil
  125  Procedure.
  126         Section 2. Present subsections (3) through (14) of section
  127  44.104, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (4)
  128  through (15), respectively, and a new subsection (3) is added to
  129  that section, to read:
  130         44.104 Voluntary binding arbitration and voluntary trial
  131  resolution.—
  132         (3)Voluntary trial resolution may include a jury trial if
  133  there is a right to a jury trial in the civil dispute and if
  134  there has been a request for a jury trial by at least one party.
  135  The trial resolution judge shall preside over the jury trial.
  136  The jury trial conducted as part of the voluntary trial
  137  resolution shall be conducted according to the laws applicable
  138  to civil jury trials.
  139         Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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