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Marion County v. Department of Juvenile Justice

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

April 4, 2017



         An appeal from an order of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Christina K. Daly, Secretary.

          Matthew G. Minter, County Attorney, Ocala, for Appellant Marion County.

          Michael S. Craig, County Attorney, Bartow, for Appellant Polk County.

          A. Bryant Applegate, County Attorney; Lynn P. Porter-Carlton, Deputy County Attorney; and Ann E. Colby, Assistant County Attorney, Sanford, for Appellant Seminole County.

          Gregory T. Stewart, Carly J. Schrader, and Lynn M. Hoshihara of Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, P.A., Tallahassee, for Seminole, Polk, and Marion Counties.

          Brian Berkowitz, General Counsel; John Milla and Michael J. Wheeler, Assistant General Counsels, Tallahassee, for Department of Juvenile Justice.

          ROBERTS, C.J.

         These three appellate cases are all that remain of a large consolidated appeal involving the Department of Juvenile Justice (the Department) and twenty Florida counties over the juvenile detention cost-sharing system in section 985.686, Florida Statutes. The three appellant counties, Marion, Polk, and Seminole, joined seventeen other counties in challenging the Department's annual reconciliations of their estimated costs with the actual costs of secure juvenile detention, arguing, among other things, that the Department's reconciliation contravened section 985.686. After legislation was passed in 2016, seventeen of the counties voluntarily dismissed their appeals. Marion, Polk, and Seminole argue they should not be compelled to dismiss their appeals because, due to their unique positions, the 2016 legislation does not affect them. We agree.


          Section 985.686, Florida Statutes, creates a system by which the costs of juvenile detention are shared between the counties and the State. The counties are responsible for the costs of secure juvenile detention for detention occurring prior to "final court disposition, " sometimes referred to as "pre-disposition, " and the State is responsible for all other costs of secure detention, sometimes referred to as "post-disposition." § 985.686(3) & (5), Fla. Stat. Exactly where the line is drawn to delineate pre- and post-disposition has been the source of heavy litigation over the years.

         Each participating county[1] "shall" incorporate into its annual budget sufficient funds to pay its estimated share of costs based on the prior use of secure detention for juveniles who are residents of the county, as calculated by the Department. § 985.686(5), Fla. Stat. The county pays its estimated costs at the beginning of each month. Id. "Any difference between the estimated costs and actual costs shall be reconciled at the end of the state fiscal year." Id.

         The Department promulgated rules contained in Chapter 63G-1, Florida Administrative Code, to implement section 985.686. For the years involved in these appeals, the Department performed an annual reconciliation and provided each county with an annual reconciliation statement for the previous fiscal year, which "shall reflect the difference between the amount paid by the county based on the estimated utilization and the actual utilization[.]" Rule 63G-1.017(4) & (5), Fla. Admin. Code. With regard to any overpayments found in the annual reconciliation, rule 63G-1.017(6) provides that the overpaying county is to receive a forwarding credit applied to the next year's estimated costs.


         Marion, Polk, and Seminole Counties are unique in that they participated in the cost-sharing system for a period of time, but elected to opt out of the system as allowed by section 985.686(10), Florida Statutes. Marion County opted out in November 2010, Polk County in October 2011, and Seminole County in 2012. For all or part of the fiscal years at issue, these counties paid their required estimated costs. After the Department published its annual reconciliations for Fiscal Years 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012, the appellants joined various other counties in administrative challenges to each of the three annual reconciliations. Final hearings were scheduled in each of the cases.

         The administrative challenges were abated pending a final decision in a rule challenge filed by several counties that challenged the Department's rules in Chapter 63G-1 as inconsistent with section 985.686 and an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority. The rule challenge resulted in a finding that the Department's interpretation of section 985.686 was improper and that the rules in place at the time were invalid and resulted in overcharges to the counties. See Okaloosa Cty. et al. v. Dep't of Juvenile Justice, DOAH Case No. 12-0891RX (Final Order July 17, 2012); Dep't of Juvenile Justice v. Okaloosa Cty., 11 ...

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