Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate Jurisdiction

Once the dog has been declared dangerous, where do you file your appeal?  The answer is not as simple as the question.

First review the applicable law; whether it be the state law, county ordinance or city ordinance. These laws will generally state where the appeal should be filed.

In Florida, most of the ordinances follow the state law which says the you must file for a hearing to appeal in the County Court. This makes no sense.  You do not file "a hearing" for an appeal.  County court in Florida does not have appellate jurisdiction. 

In order to preserve all of your rights, you must be careful in drafting a "Notice of Appeal" because you don't want to waive your right to a de novo "hearing" under the statute.  A copy of the Notice of Appeal I used in Triana v. Marion County can be read here.

So one of the arguments "on appeal" is that since county court does not have appellate jurisdiction you should get a "de novo" hearing, or a new factual trial in front of the county court judge.  This position resulted in a de novo hearing in Clay County, Florida. This issue has not been settled by any appellate court, and the argument made in Marion County v. Grunnah is still good law. The brief can be read here.

In Marion County, Florida the county court has long ago decided that you only get a transcript review on appeal in the county court.

To complicate matters further, in Broward County, the clerk of court has advised lawyers to file in the Circuit Court, because they consider the appeal an "administrative appeal." If so, did the hearing meet all the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act?

If you are appealing from the Code Enforcement Board, which handles some of these trials in Florida, there is an argument that you would appeal to the Circuit Court, because it is an appeal from the Code Enforcement Board Order.

In some cases I have been involved in, I have had two appeals, one in circuit and one in county, and a Writ of replevin all going at the same time.

I think the way to analyze this issue is to determine if you are happy with the record before the trial court.  If so, you can be satisfied with a record review on appeal.  If you have a close factual case, you can appeal to the county court for a de novo appeal and argue county court can only afford a de  novo hearing.  If you have a situation where Animal Control has never lost in the County Court, you might want to consider filing in the Circuit Court, if possible, in order to get a fresh look at dangerous dog cases. 


Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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