Comments: SRLN Comments to Proposed Court Rule Changes in Florida on Technology Integration (SRLN 2021)

On July 1, 2021, the Florida Supreme Court appointed Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19 filed a petition to amend the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, Florida Probate Rules, Florida Rules of Traffic Court, Florida Small Claims Rules, and Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Of particular note was the proposal's recommendation to all but eliminate service by mail and replace it with email service, as well as to set remote appearances as the default and with exceptions only being granted in the discretion of individual judges.

SRLN filed comments that provide data and analysis of why adoption of the proposed changes is not advised. After sharing background resources on best practices for integration of technology in court proceedings, these comments were organized around four themes: 1) public access to the courts; 2) due process, equal protection, and neutrality; 3) administrative burdens on Judges, Clerks, and lawyers; and 4) cyber security risks for the public and lawyers.  The comments conclude with recommendations to aid the court in its decision making, and include links to additional research and resources.

In preparing these comments, SRLN also developed a Digital Divide Dashboard and related map app to provide the evidence to support the commentary.