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In re Amendments to Florida Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators

Supreme Court of Florida

November 7, 2019

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA RULES FOR QUALIFIED AND COURT-APPOINTED PARENTING COORDINATORS.

         Original Proceeding - Supreme Court Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy

          Honorable Michael S. Orfinger, Chair, Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy, Daytona Beach, Florida; Honorable Rodney Smith, Past Chair, Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy, Miami, Florida; and Juan R. Collins, Senior Attorney, Dispute Resolution Center, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

          Valorie Hoppenworth, Tallahassee, Florida, Responding with comments

          PER CURIAM.

         The Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee (ADRR&P Committee or Committee) proposes amendments to Part II (Discipline) of the Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators.[1] We have jurisdiction[2] and adopt the proposed amendments, with the modifications explained below.

         BACKGROUND

         In In re Amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure; New Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators, 142 So.3d 831 (Fla. 2014), the Court adopted the Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators (Parenting Coordinator Rules). As explained in that opinion,

Part I [of the Parenting Coordinator Rules] sets forth ethical standards for parenting coordinators and reinforces the concepts of communication, negotiation, and facilitation upon which parenting coordination is based, as well as explaining the role of the parenting coordinator. . . . Part II [of the rules] addresses discipline and provides simply [in rule 15.210] that complaints alleging violations of the standards for qualified and court-appointed parenting coordinators shall be filed with the Dispute Resolution Center which shall be responsible for enforcing the standards.

Id. at 832. The ADRR&P Committee proposes amendments to existing rule 15.210 (Procedure) in Part II of the rules. The Committee also proposes adding new rules 15.220 through 15.370 to Part II, which will supersede and codify in the Parenting Coordinator Rules, with some changes, the disciplinary procedures for parenting coordinators that the Court originally adopted, by administrative order, as the Parenting Coordinator Discipline Operating Procedures (Operating Procedures). See In re Parenting Coordinator Operating Procedures, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC17-18 (March 13, 2017).

         Before filing its rule proposals with the Court, the ADRR&P Committee published the proposals for comment and revised several of the proposals in response to the comments the Committee received. After the Committee's proposals were filed, the Court published the proposals for comment. The Court received comments from one individual. The Committee further revised several of its proposals in response to those comments. At the request of the Court, [3] the ADRR&P Committee also filed a supplemental report addressing the Court's authority to adopt proposed rule 15.350 (Confidentiality). In the supplemental report, the Committee proposes a revised confidentiality rule, which the Committee modeled after Rule for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters 14.440 (Confidentiality of Disciplinary Proceedings). See In re Amends. to the Fla. Rules for Certification & Regulation of Court Interpreters, 136 So.3d 584, 587 (Fla. 2014) (amending rule 14.440 to be consistent with Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c)(3)(B)).

         AMENDMENTS

         After considering the ADRR&P Committee's proposed amendments to the Parenting Coordinator Rules, the comments, the Committee's responses to the comments, and the Committee's supplemental report, we adopt the majority of the Committee's proposals with only minor technical revisions. However, we have modified the notice and publication requirements in proposed rules 15.290(j) and 15.300(k) and (1) to require the redaction of information that is "confidential under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420," which governs the confidentiality of judicial branch records.[4]

         Accordingly, the Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators are amended as set forth in the appendix to this opinion. New language is underscored; deleted language is struck through. The committee notes are offered for explanation only and are not adopted as an official part of the rules. The amendments shall become effective immediately upon the release of this opinion.

         It is so ordered.

          CANADY, C.J., and POLSTON, LABARGA, LAWSON, LAGOA, LUCK, and MUÑIZ, JJ., concur.

         THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR REHEARING SHALL NOT ALTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THESE AMENDMENTS.

         APPENDIX

         FLORIDA RULES FOR QUALIFIED AND COURT-APPOINTED PARENTING COORDINATORS

         PART II. DISCIPLINE

         RULE 15.210. PROCEDURE SCOPE AND PURPOSE

         Any complaint alleging violations of the Rules For Qualified And Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators, Part I: STANDARDS, shall be filed with the Dispute Resolution Center which shall be responsible for enforcing these Standards. The purpose of these disciplinary rules is to provide a means for enforcing the Florida Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators (rules). These rules apply to all proceedings before rules violation complaint committees and hearing panels of the Parenting Coordinator Review Board (PCRB) involving the discipline of qualified parenting coordinators and court-appointed parenting coordinators. The PCRB shall be responsible for the enforcement of these rules, with the exception of rule 15.220, Responsibilities of Chief Judge, and rule 15.370, Chief Judge Review.

         RULE 15.220. RESPONSIBILITIES OF CHIEF JUDGE

         The chief judge or the judge's designee in each judicial circuit shall have responsibility for:

(a) the qualification and disqualification of parenting coordinators;
(b) any disciplinary proceedings regarding:
(1) a qualified parenting coordinator's failure to continue to meet the minimum qualifications in section 61.125, Florida Statutes;
(2) a qualified parenting coordinator experiencing any of the disqualifying circumstances described in section 61.125, Florida Statutes; and
(3) any failure of a qualified parenting coordinator to immediately report to the court and the parties the occurrence of (a) or (b) above; and
(c) review of the decision of a hearing panel as provided in rule 15.370, Chief Judge Review.

         RULE 15.230. ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY

         Administrative responsibility for implementation of the disciplinary procedures in the Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators shall be with the Dispute Resolution Center of the Office of the State Courts Administrator (DRC).

         RULE 15.240. PRIVILEGE TO SERVE

         The privilege to serve as a parenting coordinator is conditional, confers no vested right, and is revocable for cause.

         RULE 15.250. DEFINITIONS

         (a) Court-Appointed.

         Being appointed by the court as the parenting coordinator.

         (b) DRC.

         The Dispute Resolution Center of the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

         (c) File.

         To file is to deliver to the office of the DRC of the Office of the State Courts Administrator pleadings, motions, instruments, and other papers for preservation and reference.

         (d) Investigator.

         An individual qualified by experience to investigate complaints. An investigator may be a qualified parenting coordinator, Florida Bar member in good standing, or other qualified individual retained by the DRC at the direction of a rule violation complaint committee (RVCC) to conduct an investigation.

         (e) Panel.

         Three members of the PCRB selected by the DRC who did not serve on the RVCC to adjudicate the formal charges associated with a rule violation complaint.

         (f) Panel Adviser.

         A member of The Florida Bar in good standing retained by the DRC to assist a panel in performing its functions during a hearing. A panel adviser provides only procedural advice, is in attendance at the hearing, and is not part of the panel's private deliberations. A panel adviser may not sit in on deliberations but may be called into the deliberations in order to answer procedural questions, and is authorized to draft the decision and opinion of the panel.

         (g) PCRB.

         The Parenting Coordinator Review Board.

         (h) Prosecutor.

         An active member of The Florida Bar in good standing retained by the DRC to prosecute a complaint before a hearing panel. The prosecutor is authorized to: perform additional investigation to prepare the case; negotiate a consent to charges and an agreement to the imposition of sanctions to be presented to the panel prior to the hearing; to fully prosecute the case at the hearing; and represent the PCRB or DRC at post hearing proceedings.

         (i) Qualified.

         Meeting the requirements specified in the Florida Statutes.

         (j) Rule Violation Complaint.

         Formal submission of an alleged violation(s) of the Florida Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators. A complaint may originate from any person or from the DRC.

         (k) Rule Violation Complaint Committee or RVCC.

         Three members of the PCRB selected by the DRC by rotation to conduct the investigation and disposition of any rule violation complaint.

         RULE 15.260. PARENTING COORDINATOR REVIEW BOARD

         (a) Generally. The PCRB shall be composed of 20 individuals selected based on the following criteria:

(1) Judges: 6 circuit, family or county judges with no disciplinary history during the ten years prior to the date of submitting their application to serve as a member of the PCRB.
(2) Parenting coordinators: 10 qualified parenting coordinators from professions eligible to be qualified parenting coordinators under section 61.125, Florida Statutes, with no disciplinary history during the ten years prior to the date of submitting their application to serve as a member of the PCRB, at least 5 of whom are non-attorney parenting coordinators. In the event there are not enough qualified applicants for the non-attorney parenting coordinator seats from whom to choose, the chief justice may appoint attorney parenting coordinator applicants to fill the seats as necessary.
(3) Attorneys: 4 attorneys licensed to practice law in Florida for at least 3 years who have or had a substantial family practice and are neither qualified as parenting coordinators nor judicial officers during their terms of service on the PCRB, but who have knowledge of and experience with parenting coordination practice, statutes, and procedures. These attorneys must be members in good standing of The Florida Bar with no disciplinary history during the ten years prior to the date of submitting his or her application to serve as a member of the PCRB.

         (b) Appointment and Term.

         Eligible persons shall be appointed to the PCRB by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Florida for a period of 4 years. No member of the PCRB shall serve more than 3 terms. The term of any member serving on a committee or panel may continue until the final disposition of their service on a case.

         (c) Duty to Notify.

         In the event a PCRB member is disciplined, suspended, or disqualified as a parenting coordinator, or is disciplined, suspended, or disbarred by any professional licensing organization of which he or she is a member, the PCRB member shall report such information to the DRC in writing within 10 days of the discipline, suspension, disqualification, or disbarment.

         (d) Rule Violation Complaint Committee (RVCC).

         Each RVCC shall be composed of 3 members of the PCRB selected by the DRC on a rotation basis. RVCCs are assigned to a single case; however, a RVCC may be assigned to related cases to be disposed of collectively as is deemed appropriate by the Chief of Alternative Dispute Resolution. A RVCC shall disband after the disposition of the case(s) to which it is assigned. Each RVCC shall be composed of:

(1) 1 judge or attorney, who shall act as the chair of the RVCC; and
(2) 2 qualified parenting coordinators from different regulatory backgrounds, if feasible.

(e) Panels.

         Each panel shall be composed of 3 members of the PCRB selected by the DRC on a rotation basis. No member of a panel shall have served on the RVCC for the same case(s). A panel may be assigned to more than 1 unrelated case and may be assigned to related cases to be disposed of collectively as is deemed appropriate by the Chief of Alternative Dispute Resolution. A panel shall disband after disposing of all cases to which it is assigned. Each panel shall be composed of:

(1) 1 judge, who shall serve as the chair;
(2) 1 qualified parenting coordinator; and
(3) 1 attorney who shall serve as vice-chair. The vice-chair shall act as the chair of the panel in the event of the unavailability of the chair.

         (f) Decision making.

         For all RVCCs and panels, while unanimity is the preferred method of decision making, a majority vote shall control.

         RULE 15.270. JURISDICTION AND POWERS

         (a) RVCC.

         Each RVCC shall have such jurisdiction and powers as are necessary to conduct the proper and speedy investigation and disposition of any complaint. The judge or attorney chairing the RVCC shall have the power to compel:

(1) the attendance of any person at a RVCC meeting;
(2) any person to give statements, testimony, and depositions; and
(3) production of documents, records, and other evidence;

         The RVCC shall perform its investigatory function and have concomitant power to resolve cases prior to panel referral.

         (b) Panel.

         Each panel shall have such jurisdiction and powers as are necessary to conduct the proper and speedy adjudication and disposition of any proceeding before it. The panel shall perform the adjudicatory function, but shall not have any investigatory functions. The chair of a panel shall have the power to:

(1) compel the attendance of witnesses;
(2) issue subpoenas to compel the depositions of witnesses;
(3) order the production of records or other documentary ...

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