When commencing an appeal in Florida, timing is everything. For instance, the timely filing of a notice of appeal is a strict matter of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fla. R. App. P. 9.110(b); Miami-Dade Cnty. v. Peart, 843 So. 2d 363, 364 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003). If the notice of appeal is not filed within thirty days of the rendition of an order (either final or non-final), the appellate court is divested of subject matter jurisdiction by “an irremediable jurisdictional defect” and a litigant’s only right to appeal is gone. Peart, 843 So. 2d at 364. Similarly, if a motion for rehearing is not filed within fifteen days of the rendition of an opinion, the right to rehearing may be lost. See Hoenstine v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 742 So. 2d 853, 854 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999) (denying as “unauthorized and untimely” a motion for rehearing that was one day late); see also Fla. R. App. P. 9.330(a). Thus, calculating the time requirements is essential to success on appeal.
As with trial court filings, Florida Rules of judicial Administration 2.514 & 2.516 provide the time computation requirements on appeal. Under rule 2.514, when time for the completion of an event—for example, the filing of a brief—is calculated in days, the calculation begins the day after the event that triggered the time period, and the last day of that period is counted in determining the end date. If the last day, however, is either a weekend or “legal holiday,” the end date is the next business day or non-legal holiday. Be sure to be careful regarding “legal holidays.” This term is defined under rule 2.514, and includes the mandatory holidays delineated by the Florida Legislature. Aside from those holidays, chief judges or the clerk’s office have discretion to add additional dates. As such, be sure to check your filing court’s holiday calendar when you believe a holiday may or may not give you extra time. If you believe a holiday may apply, and it does not, you may miss a crucial filing deadline.
Next, rule 2.514 provides that “”When a party may or must act within a specified time after service and service is made by mail or email, 5 days are added after the period that would otherwise expire under subdivision (a).” This five day additional period applies when service of a document was by mail or e-mail, and the party must respond in a period of time “after service.” If a rule or court order does not explicitly state that the person must act “after service,” the additional five days does not apply. See Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. Lewis, 122 So. 3d 504, 506 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013).For example, a party must file his notice of appeal within thirty days of rendition of the order appealed—not thirty days after service of the order. As such, the five day additional period does not apply when filing a notice of appeal and invoking the subject matter jurisdiction of the appellate court, even if the order is received by mail or email. Id. Furthermore, the additional five days applies when service was effectuated only by mail or email. If a party also effectuates service by another method—such as personal delivery or facsimile—along with mail or email, rule 2.516(2) requires the earlier end date to apply, i.e. the shorter period, which is that without the five days.
Accordingly, understanding how to compute time when calculating filing and service dates will help a litigator (on appeal and even at the trial court level) avoid missing crucial filing deadlines, perhaps give him or her a little more time than originally thought to complete a task, and may even provide a strategic advantage over an adversary who does not understand the time requirements of Florida’s Rules of Judicial Administration.