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Legal Memorandum: Standard and Grounds for Review in FL

Issue: Under Florida law, should an appeals court grant review when it finds that the lower court failed to give full consideration to the merits of the case below?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Review; Per curiam; Consideration
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 865 So. 2d 541; 189 So. 2d 827; 358 So. 2d 190
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2009

In South Florida Hosp. Corp. v. McCrea, 118 So. 2d 25, 31 (Fla. 1960), the Court discussed the proper standard and grounds for review of a one-word, per curiam district court of appeal decision

The word “affirmed” so used necessarily means that the appellate court has carefully examined all points raised by all appealing parties and found them to be without merit.  Ordinarily, the rule is that we will not review a decision of a District Court, on the ground of conflict of decisions, which affirms the trial court without opinion.

Id. at 31 (emphasis added).  Thus, as a general rule the Court will not “dig into a record to determine whether or not a per curiam affirmance . . . conflicts” with other decisions.  Id. (citation omitted).  However, the Court went on to allow that this rule was not without possible exceptions.

            We recognize that there may be exceptions to the rule that this court will not go behind a judgment per curiam consisting of the one word “affirmed” . . . [I]t could conceivably appear from a restricted examination required in certiorari proceedings that a conflict had arisen with resulting injustice to the immediate litigant.

Id.  It allowed that review could be had upon a clear demonstration “that the court of appeal has failed to give earnest, intelligent and fearless consideration to the case and failed to reach a decision in harmony with controlling precedents.”  Id. at 32.

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