Appellate practitioner and former Florida Supreme Court career staff attorney Lindsey Lawton sits down with us to talk legal writing. For Lindsey, writing is not just her day job, she draws influence for use and enjoyment of the written word from beyond legal briefs. While she maintains a grammar beat on LinkedIn, Lindsey says language ultimately is about being a communicator, not a technician.
(Example: I asked Lindsey if the example “the reasons are as follows” is technically incorrect as containing a subject-verb disagreement. Yes, says Lindsey, but “as follow” just sounds too weird.)
Then we continue our experiment in comparing and contrasting state procedural rules. Here is what we gleaned about the differences between California and Florida:
👉 In FL, the Supreme Court makes the rules of civil procedure, unlike CA where that is the province of the legislature.
👉 Unlike CA, in FL the rules allow parties to create an electronic recording of proceedings for purposes of an appellate record.
👉 Both CA and FL have no horizontal stare decisis: district appellate courts may freely disagree with one another.
👉 But unlike CA, a FL District Court of Appeal cannot ignore its own past decisions: to do that, it has to take the matter up en banc (like in the federal system).
👉 Unlike CA, in FL all the appellate opinions are published.
👉 But unlike CA, in FL there is no right to a reasoned opinion, meaning most affirmance are summary affirmances (how frustrating!!).
👉 Unlike CA, in FL there is no right to oral argument on appeal.
👉 Like CA, FL is beginning to experiment with “focus orders,” identifying issues counsel should be prepared to discuss at oral argument.
👉 Like CA, FL follows the doctrine on appeal that a judgment will be affirmed if valid for any reason, even if the trial court’s stated reasons were deficient or wrong.
👉 But FL has a much more colorful name for this: the Tipsy Coachman doctrine!