I express a belief, based on a reasoned and studied professional judgment, that the case or issue is of exceptional importance.
I express a belief, based on a reasoned and studied professional judgment, that the panel decision is contrary to the following decision(s) of this court and that a consideration by the full court is necessary to maintain uniformity of decisions in this court (citing specifically the case or cases).
FL. R. App. P. 9.331
1982 Amendment. This rule is patterned in part after the en banc rule of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits. The rule is an essential part of the philosophy of our present appellate structure because the supreme court no longer has jurisdiction to review intra-district conflict. The new appellate structural scheme requires the district courts of appeal to resolve conflict within their respective districts through the en banc process. By so doing, this should result in a clear statement of the law applicable to that particular district.
Subdivision (a) provides that a majority vote of the active and participating members of the district court is necessary to set a case for hearing en banc or rehearing en banc. The issues on the merits will be decided by a simple majority of the judges actually participating in the en banc process, without regard to recusals or a judge's absence for illness. All judges in regular active service, not excluded for cause, will constitute the en banc panel. Counsel are reminded that en banc proceedings are extraordinary and will be ordered only in the enumerated circumstances. The ground, maintenance of uniformity in the court's decisions, is the equivalent of decisional conflict as developed by supreme court precedent in the exercise of its conflict jurisdiction. The district courts are free, however, to develop their own concept of decisional uniformity. The effect of an en banc tie vote is self-explanatory, but such a vote does suggest that the matter is one that should be certified to the supreme court for resolution.
Subdivision (b) provides that hearings en banc may not be sought by the litigants; such hearings may be ordered only by the district court sua sponte.
Subdivision (c)(1) governs rehearings en banc. A litigant may apply for an en banc rehearing only on the ground that intradistrict conflict of decisions exists, and then only in conjunction with a timely filed motion for rehearing under rule. The en banc rule does not allow for a separate motion for an en banc rehearing nor does it require the district court to enter a separate order on such request. Once a timely motion for rehearing en banc is filed in conjunction with a traditional petition for rehearing, the 3 judges on the initial panel must consider the motion. A vote of the entire court may be initiated by any single judge on the panel. Any other judge on the court may also trigger a vote by the entire court. Nonpanel judges are not required to review petitions for rehearing en banc until a vote is requested by another judge, although all petitions for rehearing en banc should be circulated to nonpanel judges. The court may on its own motion order a rehearing en banc.
Subdivision (c)(2) requires a signed statement of counsel certifying a bona fide belief that an en banc hearing is necessary to ensure decisional harmony within the district.
Subdivision (c)(3) is intended to prevent baseless motions for en banc rehearings from absorbing excessive judicial time and labor. The district courts will not enter orders denying motions for en banc rehearings. If a rehearing en banc is granted, the court may order briefs from the parties and set the case for oral argument.
1992 Amendment. Subdivision (c)(3) was amended to correct a linguistic error found in the original subdivision.
1994 Amendment. The intent of this amendment is to authorize courts sitting in subject-matter divisions to have cases that are assigned to a division decided en banc by that division without participation by the regular active judges assigned to another division. The presumption is that en banc consideration will usually be limited to the division in which the case is pending. However, recognizing that in exceptional instances it may be preferable for the matter under review to be considered by the whole court, the case can be brought before all regular active judges by the chief judge or by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the regular active judges on the whole court. Once the matter is before the whole court en banc, a vote on the merits will be by a majority of the regular active judges as now provided in rule.