How is federal court different than state court in Florida?

A federal court case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida can be quite different than a case in Florida state court for a variety of reasons. Several of these reasons are as follows:

First, the federal judges are typically more proactive in managing their dockets in general and in individual cases. Indeed, the Southern District of Florida is now one of the faster districts in the United States from commencement to final disposition of the case.

Second, a lawyer’s practice in federal court is much more writing intensive and involves fewer, if any, hearings in front of the judge. Every motion filed in federal court will include a memorandum in support of the motion, a response memorandum by the part opposing the motion, and a (optional) reply to the response memorandum. Most federal judges throughout the Southern District of Florida do not grant oral hearings on motion. Oral argument (except for hearings on discovery issues before Magistrate Judges) is the exception rather than the rule. This puts more of an onus on presenting quality writing to the court.

Third, the practice in federal court is substantially different than state court when it comes to granting motions for summary judgment. In federal court, the judges often grant motions for summary judgment and know that the majority of the time they will be affirmed on appeal. This is a major tool for managing their dockets in civil cases either to prevent cases from going to trial or limit the issues that will be tried. In state courts, it is the opposite whereby most judges will not grant summary judgment unless it is absolutely clear that there is no factual issue in dispute.

In sum, federal court in Florida is more rigid when its comes scheduling, the necessity for quality writing, and the frequency in which motions for summary judgment are granted.