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The Sixth DCA & Christmas…They will Both be here Soon!

Submitted by Carri Leininger on 03 Nov, 2022

In June of this year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 7027 creating Chapter 2022-163, which in turn created the Sixth District Court of Appeal.   It will be the first new court since 1979.  The new court will be headquartered in Lakeland, pushing the Second DCA to St. Petersburg.  The Sixth DCA will handle appeals from the courts in the Ninth, Tenth, and Twentieth Circuits which cover Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto counties.

The Sixth DCA will open for business on January 3, 2023.  Judges, judicial work groups, and the Office of State Court Administrator (OSCA) are creating a brand new court in just six months (and one of those months is December, so we know that doesn’t really count as a full month).  Much of the personnel is in place, including the new Clerk of the Court who is moving from her current position as the Clerk for the Arkansas Supreme Court, Stacey Pectol.

The existing five DCAs are affected to varying degrees.   The Third and Fourth DCA will not be directly impacted because the circuits they cover will not change.  The First, Second, and Fifth will be realigned geographically and some of the circuits they currently cover will be transferred to the new Sixth DCA.   The Fifth DCA is arguably impacted the most because five of its judges are transferring to the Sixth, including Judge Meredith Sasso who will become the first Chief Judge of the Sixth DCA.

The new DCA is soliciting comments and suggestions on internal procedures from the bar.  If you have suggestions regarding extensions, mediation, jurisdictional briefs for non-final appeal or any other matter, now is the time to contribute.

The Sixth DCA judges are still considering what will be precedent for the new court.   Lawyers who practice before the Sixth and its lower courts must be prepared to argue what constitutes binding precedent.

Coming off their recent success in handling the transfer of all circuit court appeals, the DCAs seem to once again be capable of handling the impossible (new appellate court in six months?!).  And doing it in impressive fashion…kinda like Santa Claus.