Could there be a 6th DCA in Jacksonville?
Bill Graessle • JBA Appellate Law Committee Chair
The Jacksonville Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee presented its annual lunch and learn seminar July 24.
Also known as “Fun with the First,” this year’s panel comprised 1st District Court of Appeal Judges Scott Makar, Harvey Jay and Ross Bilbrey II.
As a bonus, two guest stars appeared with the panel: District Marshal Kevin Taylor and Clerk of the Court Kristina Samuels.
The program began with Taylor answering the question that was on everyone’s mind: “What exactly does the marshal do?” Taylor said that unlike marshals from other district courts of appeal, the 1st DCA’s marshal is not only responsible for security, but also manages and handles all of the technical aspects of the court’s operations - everything except the processing of cases, which is handled by the clerk.
In addition to traditional questions, such as common mistakes the judges see and what attributes they believe a good appellate judge should have, the panel also discussed the fact that two en banc oral arguments were held in April, which is a rare occurrence, and the logistics of how it happened.
That led to a discussion of what the proper use of the en banc procedure should be and when it should be invoked. Judge Makar posited that the process should be used more often for reconciling intradistrict conflict, but noted that not all of the judges find that a compelling reason.
Two topics generated a spirited discussion.
First, there currently are two vacancies on the 1st DCA, a result of the appointment of Judges Wetherell and Winokur to the federal bench. The discussion centered on the fact that Jacksonville is significantly underrepresented on the state appellate court and there needs to be a concerted effort to remedy same.
The final topic was one that has been discussed for several years and appears to be gaining more attention: The possible creation of a 6th DCA based in Jacksonville.
This subject was raised initially by Judge Makar, who focused on the large proportion of 1st DCA cases that originate from Jacksonville and the predominance on the 1st DCA of Tallahassee-based judges.
Judge Bilbrey and Judge Jay agreed that while there certainly should be more judges from Jacksonville and at least a branch of the 1st DCA here, they were undecided whether a new and separate appellate district court should be established. This discussion is ongoing, so stay tuned for details.
The seminar was well-received and a good time for all. This is a tradition which the Appellate Practice Committee will continue.
Special thanks in helping make this happen are due to JBA Executive Director Craig Shoup and CLE & Events Director Carla Ortiz-Ramos.
William Graessle is the owner of William S. Graessle P.A. and a board-certified appellate law practitioner.