Family Law and Judicial Administration Rule and Jury Instruction Changes Adopted

Kristen Larson |

On January 22, the Court adopted notable changes to rules of family procedure and judicial administration and jury instructions.
Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.451 was adopted to mirror Florida Civil Rule of Procedure 1.451, which allows testimony to be given via audio or video equipment provided that either all parties agree or provided that all parties have been given adequate notice and that good cause is shown. Both the Court and the Florida Bar’s Family Law Rules Committee passed the rule unanimously. Neither the Court nor the Committee published comments on the rule.
The Supreme Court of Florida also approved the Florida Bar’s Rules of Judicial Administration Committee’s proposed amendments to the Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420. The amendment adds “forensic behavioral health evaluations under Chapter 916” and “eligibility screening, substance abuse screening, behavioral health evaluations, and treatment status reports for defendants referred to or considered for referral to a drug court program” to the list of information automatically designated by court clerks as confidential. Opinion at page 2. The amendments are based on chapters 2014-67 and 2014-174, Laws of Florida. The Court is allowing interested parties to submit comments until March 23, 2015.
The Supreme Court additionally approved proposed changes from the Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases to jury instructions for Kidnapping (9.1) and False Imprisonment (9.2). The changes add “Human Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Activity in which a Child under the Age of 18 or a Mentally Defective Person or a Mentally Incapacitated Person was Involved” to the list of crimes that can be considered aggravating circumstances. Opinion at page 2. This change mirrors the recent changes to sections 787.01(3)(a) and 787.02(3)(a), Florida Statutes (2014). The Court is allowing interested parties to submit comments until March 23, 2015.