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Elements of NCSC's Civil Justice Initiative Being Used To Bring Civil Cases Back In Florida Courts

April 21, 2021

As courts seek to address the existing backlog in civil cases and a possible increase in civil cases moving forward, some have opted to take the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate in the way they handle such cases. Florida, for example, has opted to adopt several of the recommendations of the National Center for State Court's Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) as they pertain to case management and handling.

Florida's Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases, established in 2019 just before the pandemic, was tasked with examining how other states handled their civil case processing as well as how to implement improvements. In particular, the Workgroup was to make use of the civil case management recommendations that were a part of the Civil Justice Initiative as endorsed in 2016 by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators.

Those recommendations made their way into Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order 20-23, Amendment 10 released in March 2021. The order requires that by April 30 all presiding judges in civil cases categorize each case as complex, streamlined, or general. In the case of streamlined and general civil cases, the presiding judge is to issue case management orders that specify deadlines for various stages of the case. Florida's definition of the criteria for placing a case on the "streamlined" track is taken almost verbatim from the Civil Justice Initiative's definition:

CJI’s “Streamlined”

Florida’s “Streamlined”

limited number of parties

few parties

routine issues related to liability and damages

non-complex issues related to liability and damages

few anticipated pretrial motions

few anticipated pretrial motions

limited need for discovery

limited need for discovery

few witnesses

few witnesses

minimal documentary evidence

minimal documentary evidence

anticipated trial length of one to two days.

anticipated trial length of less than two days

Additional information on how states and individual courts have moved to adopted the CJI's recommendations on civil cases can be found at the Civil Justice Initiative's website: www.ncsc.org/cji.

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For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.