Sometimes in Florida a case will be referred to a general magistrate for a hearing or trial. Often the rationale for this is to alleviate crowded Circuit Court dockets and for the parties to get a hearing sooner than they would in Circuit Court. However, as is often the case in any court, one party may not like the outcome. Rules of Procedure provide that an “exception" to the magistrates report must be filed within a specified time period. If an exception is not timely filed, the Circuit Judge will sign an order adopting the magistrate’s findings and opinion. Once this order is adopted by the Circuit Judge the only available appeal is to the district court of appeal. Another Circuit Judge or Magistrate cannot change the order of the previous Judge or magistrate. Additionally, the opinion will only be overturned for errors of law; not simply because another Judge views the facts differently.
It is important to have an attorney represent you at all stages of a case. Often times, there is nothing an attorney can do after the trial because the record of the court case will not support an appeal. However, the attorney may have been able to achieve a different outcome if they had been hired at the beginning of the case.
See,Drdek v. Drdek, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D420 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).
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