Florida Senate - 2010                              CS for SB 130
       By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Altman
       590-02752-10                                           2010130c1
    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.
   17  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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 circuit the power
   38  to assign justices or judges for duty in that circuit. At a
   39  minimum, the program developed under this subsection shall be
   40  operated as follows:
   41         (a)1.Any party to the action may request a retired justice
   42  or judge to hear one or more nondispositive motions. The party
   43  may seek appointment of a retired justice or judge to hear more
   44  than one nondispositive motion in that case. The chief judge of
   45  the circuit shall not appoint a retired justice or judge if the
   46  trial judge assigned to the case can accommodate the hearing or
   47  hearings within 2 weeks after the request for appointment of a
   48  retired justice or judge.
   49         2.All parties to an action may jointly request a retired
   50  justice or judge to hear one or more dispositive motions or to
   51  conduct the trial of the action, including a trial by special
   52  setting. The chief judge of the circuit shall not appoint a
   53  retired justice or judge unless all parties agree to the request
   54  and sufficient court resources are available to accommodate the
   55  request. A party in default shall be deemed to have consented to
   56  the appointment of a retired justice or judge under this
   57  subparagraph.
   58         (b)1.A party or parties seeking to use a retired justice
   59  or judge shall submit a written request to the chief judge,
   60  stating the reasons for the request.
   61         2.Allowable grounds for use of a retired justice or judge
   62  include the unavailability of a hearing time, scheduling
   63  difficulties, difficulties with the availability of witnesses,
   64  or the need to expedite the case. A request shall not be granted
   65  if it is apparent that a party is seeking an appointment only in
   66  order to avoid the assigned trial judge.
   67         3.The chief judge shall consider the reasons for the
   68  request and shall grant or deny the request in writing within 5
   69  days.
   70         4.Only retired justices or judges who are on the list that
   71  is approved by the Chief Justice are eligible for appointment in
   72  this program. Assignment of such retired justices or judges
   73  shall be made in accordance with current judge assignment
   74  procedures in each judicial circuit. A party may not request
   75  that a particular retired justice or judge be appointed.
   76         5.An appointment shall be for the hearing time requested.
   77  However, the chief judge may appoint a retired justice or judge
   78  to conduct multiple hearings in 1 day involving related or
   79  unrelated cases.
   80         (c)1.Upon granting a request, the chief judge of the
   81  circuit shall estimate the number of days required of the
   82  retired justice or judge to complete the hearings or trial and
   83  shall inform the requesting party or 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.The per diem paid to a retired justice or judge under
  104  this subsection for 1 day of service for all trials or hearings
  105  conducted on that one day shall not exceed the standard per diem
  106  rate for 1 day of service established by the chief justice.
  107         5.Payments made by a party or parties under this program
  108  shall be deposited into the Operating Trust Fund within the
  109  state courts system under s. 25.3844.
  110         6.Once a hearing or trial is scheduled, prepayment is made
  111  as required under this subsection, and the state is required to
  112  make payment to the retired justice or judge, there shall be no
  113  refund. A refund is authorized only if the assigned retired
  114  justice or judge becomes unavailable for reasons unrelated to
  115  the conduct of the parties.
  116         7.A person who has been relieved of the requirement to
  117  prepay costs in an action may not be relieved of the requirement
  118  under this subsection to prepay the costs of a retired justice
  119  or judge prior to a request being granted.
  120         (d)1.If a party seeks appointment of a retired justice or
  121  judge to hear one or more motions, the cost of the retired
  122  justice or judge shall not be taxable against a nonprevailing
  123  party.
  124         2.If all parties sought the appointment of a retired
  125  justice or judge to hear motions or conduct the trial, the
  126  amounts paid for the retired justice or judge by a prevailing
  127  party shall be taxable against a nonprevailing party or the
  128  nonprevailing parties, as provided in chapter 57 and in the
  129  Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
  130         Section 2. Present subsections (3) through (14) of section
  131  44.104, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (4)
  132  through (15), respectively, and a new subsection (3) is added to
  133  that section, to read:
  134         44.104 Voluntary binding arbitration and voluntary trial
  135  resolution.—
  136         (3)Voluntary trial resolution may include a jury trial if
  137  there is a right to a jury trial in the civil dispute and if
  138  there has been a request for a jury trial by at least one party.
  139  The trial resolution judge shall preside over the jury trial.
  140  The jury trial conducted as part of the voluntary trial
  141  resolution shall be conducted according to the laws applicable
  142  to civil jury trials.
  143         Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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