FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Putnam County, Scott C. Dupont,
Angelique E. Kelley, of The Kelley Firm, LLC, Saint
Augustine, and Lori D. Loftis, Assistant Regional Counsel,
The Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel,
Casselberry, for Appellant.
Appearance for Appellee.
appeals a final order for involuntary substance abuse
treatment entered pursuant to section 397.697(1), Florida
Statutes (2016). He argues that the petition for involuntary
treatment was not filed in the proper county and,
accordingly, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the
order. Although J.P. is no longer committed under the order
on appeal, we choose to address the issue raised because the
issue is likely to recur, yet otherwise evade
review. We conclude that although the petition was
filed in the wrong county, it was not void for lack of
September 2016, J.P.'s mother filed a Petition and
Affidavit Seeking Involuntary Substance Abuse Assessment and
Stabilization of J.P. in Putnam County. The circuit court in
Putnam County entered an ex parte order for involuntary
assessment and stabilization, directing the sheriff to take
J.P. into custody and deliver him to "Stewart Marchman
Act Behavioral Healthcare at 330 Kay Larkin Drive, Palatka,
FL 32177, or the nearest available licensed service
provider" for involuntary assessment and
stabilization for a period of up to five days. (Emphasis
added). Four days later, J.P.'s mother filed a Petition
for Involuntary Treatment in Putnam County based upon the
assessment recommendation of involuntary inpatient treatment.
At the time J.P.'s mother filed the petition for
involuntary treatment, J.P. was located in a detoxification
facility in Volusia County.
subsequent hearing, J.P., through appointed counsel, moved to
dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction. He argued that
section 397.681, Florida Statutes, requires a petition for
treatment to be filed in the county where the person is
located. Because J.P.'s mother filed the petition for
involuntary treatment in Putnam County rather than Volusia
County, it was J.P.'s position that the court was without
jurisdiction to consider the petition.
facility representative explained that J.P. was in Volusia
County at the time the petition for treatment was filed
because Volusia County had the closest licensed addictions
receiving facility qualified to perform an involuntary
substance abuse assessment. He later clarified that an
assessment could have been performed in Putnam County, but
J.P. needed detoxification, so he was sent to the nearest
addictions receiving facility. J.P.'s mother argued that
J.P. resided in Putnam County and was located in Putnam
County at the time she filed the petition for assessment.
Notably, J.P. only made a lack of jurisdiction argument to
the trial court. He did not argue the case should be
transferred or dismissed on venue grounds. As a result, the
defense of improper venue was waived. Fla. R. Civ. P.
trial court denied J.P.'s motion to dismiss and, based on
the evidence presented, entered an order for involuntary
treatment for substance abuse "for a period not to
exceed 60 days." On appeal, J.P. only challenges the
trial court's jurisdiction to enter the order.
on the plain language of section 397.681(1), we agree that
the petition for involuntary treatment should have been filed
in Volusia County, where J.P. was "located." That
section states, in pertinent part:
(1) Jurisdiction.-- The courts have jurisdiction of
involuntary assessment and stabilization petitions and
involuntary treatment petitions for substance abuse impaired
persons, and such petitions must be filed with the clerk of
the court in the county where the person is located.
§ 397.681(1), Fla. Stat. (2016). However, the filing of
the petition in the wrong county did not divest the circuit
court in Putnam County of jurisdiction.
and jurisdiction are not synonymous. Venue concerns the
privilege of being accountable to a court in a particular
location, while jurisdiction is "the power to act"
or the authority to adjudicate the subject matter.
Bush, 945 So.2d at 1211. All Florida circuit court
judges have jurisdiction to consider involuntary substance
abuse treatment petitions. See §§
26.012(2)(b), 397.681(1), Fla. Stat. (2016). Thus, although
the proper venue for the proceeding below was Volusia County,
the order entered by the circuit court in Putnam County was
not void for lack of jurisdiction. See In re Guardianship
of Mickler, 163 So.2d 257, 260 (Fla. 1964) ("Since
the county judges of both counties had the power to act, . .
. and, in our view, jurisdiction should be considered apart
from venue, we think that in the last analysis the question
here is whether or not there was a waiver of the privilege of
having the guardianship adjudicated in Hernando
County."); Bambrick v. Bambrick, 165 So.2d 449,
455 (Fla. 2d DCA 1964) (concluding that county court judge in