Petition for Writ of Certiorari

Under Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, a petition for writ of certiorari that seeks an order directed to a lower tribunal “shall be accompanied by an appendix as prescribed by rule 9.220, and the petition shall contain references to the appropriate pages of the supporting appendix.” Fla. R. App. P. 9.100(g).

Under Rule 9.220(a), the Florida rules of appellate procedure require a record of the documents file in the lower tribunal. An appendix should not contain matters not made part of the record in the lower tribunal which is outside the record.

The courts have determined, however, that it is helpful to attach copies of the applicable authority if the case involves a review of an administrative agency and requires the court to consult applicable local ordinances, rules, and regulations.

Attorney for a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are experienced in filing a petition for a writ of certiorari to contest the ruling in an administrative action in Florida.

We are particularly experienced in filing the petition for the writ of certiorari after a hearing officer with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles improperly refused to invalidate an administrative suspension of a driver’s license.

The four attorneys in our office are focused exclusively on criminal defense both at the trial level and also at the appellate level for a direct appeal after a conviction, a post-conviction motion, or a writ that is related to a collateral consequence in a criminal case.

Let our criminal appellate attorneys in Tampa, FL, put their experience to work for you. We are experienced in filing and litigating a direct criminal appeal, a post-conviction motion, or a writ petition.

Call (813) 250-0500.

Types of Writ Petitions Filed in Florida

The most common types of writ petitions filed in the Circuit Courts throughout the State of Florida include:

  • Writ of Certiorari;
  • Writ of Mandamus;
  • Writ of Prohibition;
  • Writ of Quo Warranto;
  • Writ of Habeas Corpus; and
  • Other writs necessary or proper to the complete exercise of its jurisdiction.

The local rules and administrative orders in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit require that petitions for writs of habeas corpus are not filed in the Circuit Civil Division. Instead, where the habeas corpus petition is filed depends on the subject matter.

Petitions for writs related to the administration of criminal justice are filed in the Criminal Division. The habeas corpus petition can be filed in the Circuit Criminal Division, Unified Family Division, or the Probate, Guardianship, Mental Health and Trust Division of the Circuit Court.

Rules for the Petition for a Writ in Florida

Petitions for writs of certiorari are appellate in nature in that they seek review of either nonfinal county court or administrative agency action, or of final agency action for which review by an appeal is not provided for by statute.

In the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, such cases are assigned to a single division judge. Unless otherwise provided for by law, petitions for writ of certiorari must be filed within 30 days of the action to be reviewed. The failure to meet that deadline will preclude review.

Petitions for certiorari in circuit court are governed by Rule 9.100, Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure. All other writ petitions in circuit court are governed by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.630. In addition to the petition, the petitioner must furnish the court with an appendix containing any documents necessary to advance the petitioner’s argument and cite to the appendix for any statement of fact (Rule 9.220).

Rules for the Petition for a Writ in Florida

Responses to petitions are filed only upon order of the court if it is determined that any writ petition sets forth a preliminary basis for relief. Responses are like petitions in that they may require the attachment of and citation to an appendix.

After a response is filed, the petitioner may file a reply within 20 days (Rule 9.100(k)). A reply is not required. Extensions of time to file replies are not routinely granted.

Request for Oral Argument in a Writ Case

As with appeals, oral argument may be requested. If granted, the oral argument will then be scheduled by the parties as they would for any hearing before the court. Usually, each party will have 15 minutes to present argument.

What is Certiorari in Florida?

“Certiorari is a common-law writ which issues in the sound judicial discretion of the court to an inferior court, not to take the place of an appeal, but to cause the entire record of the inferior court to be brought up in order that it may be determined from the face thereof whether the inferior court has exceeded its jurisdiction, or has not proceeded according to the essential requirements of law.

Confined to its legitimate scope, the writ may issue within the court’s discretion to correct the procedure of courts wherein they have not observed those requirements of the law which are deemed to be essential to the administration of justice. . . .Failure to observe the essential requirements of law means failure to accord due process of law within the contemplation of the Constitution, or the commission of an error so fundamental in character as to fatally infect the judgment and render it void. . . .” Haines City Cmty. Dev. v. Heggs, 658 So. 2d 523, 527 (Fla. 1995) [20 Fla. L. Weekly S318a].

The court reviews an administrative action to determine whether:

  1. the petitioner was provided due process;
  2. the essential requirements of law were followed; and
  3. whether the decision is supported by competent substantial evidence.

A “departure from the essential requirements of law,” as described by the Florida Supreme Court, means something beyond a mere “legal error.” For instance, a departure from the essential requirements of the law means:

  • an inherent illegality or irregularity
  • an abuse of judicial power
  • an act of judicial tyranny perpetrated with disregard of procedural requirements, resulting in a gross miscarriage of justice.

The writ of certiorari properly issues to correct essential illegality but not legal error. Haines City Cmty. Dev. v. Heggs, 658 So.2d 523, 527 (Fla.1995).

Additional Resources

Which Writ is Which? A Trial Attorney’s Guide to Florida’s Extraordinary Writs – Visit the Florida Bar Journal to find this article explaining different types of writs in Florida including the writ of certiorari, after a quasi-judicial local agency action orders of circuit court acting in their appellate capacity, and nonfinal orders not subject to review pursuant to Rule 9.130. Find information on the requirements for other types of writs including prohibition, mandamus, habeas corpus, or quo warranto.

Law Review Article on Florida’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari – Visit the website of Stetson Law School to find a scholarly law review article explaining the writs of certiorari in Florida’s Circuit Courts and District Court of Appeals cited as Tracy E. Leduc, Certiorari in the Florida District Courts of Appeal, 33 Stetson L. Rev. 107, 124 (2003).

This article was last updated on Friday, October 30, 2020.