The Florida Supreme Court has adopted mediation rules for all appellate courts, including circuit courts acting in their appellate capacity, district courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Florida.

Under the new rules(.pdf), the appellate court, on its own motion or that of a party, may refer a case to mediation at any time.  All cases are eligible except criminal cases, habeas corpus and extraordinary writs, contempt cases and matters specified by administrative order.  The rules provide for tolling of deadlines and for sanctions for failure to appear at a mediation conference without good cause.

Although the rules are patterned after comparable Florida rules governing trial court mediation, the Supreme Court acknowledged the difference between appellate and trial court mediation:  “Unlike in an initial proceeding . . . a controversy on appeal has been resolved in favor of one party over the other.  The viability of mediation . . . may not be apparent to the parties . . . until after the briefs have been filed, reflecting the issues upon which review is sought as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ arguments.”  To accommodate this distinction the parties may agree to postpone mediation until after the briefs are filed.

The Supreme Court also amended the rules on mediator qualifications to provide for certification of appellate mediators, who, in addition to being qualified as certified circuit, family or dependency mediators, must complete a Florida Supreme Court certified appellate mediation training program.

The rules became effective July 1, 2010.