Motion for Rehearing Filed in LGBTQ Conversion LawsuitPalm Beach County and Boca Raton filed a petition requesting a rehearing by the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or by a panel last month regarding a recent case. Last month, the 11th Circuit ruled that a local ordinance that banned conversion therapy for LGBTQ individuals violated the first amendment. The goal of conversion therapy is to change a minor child’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

During the hearing, critics of conversion therapy presented evidence that this type of therapy harms minors who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The 11th Circuit Court of appeals decided in a two-to-one decision that the ordinances prohibiting therapists from using conversion therapy violated the First Amendment. The Court ruled that even though the issue is controversial, therapists who wish to provide conversion counseling or treatment have a First Amendment right to provide conversion therapy.

The Difference Between a Motion for Rehearing and a Motion for Reconsideration
In the case mentioned above, city and county attorneys have petitioned the 11th Circuit to conduct a rehearing in full.  When a case is appealed in state or federal court, and the appellate court rules against you, you may have a right to file a motion for a rehearing. When attorneys firmly believe they have discovered a cause to request a judge to reconsider their decision due to perceived errors in their rulings, they can provide a written request through a motion for rehearing or a motion for reconsideration.

A motion for reconsideration is a legal petition that allows the losing party to ask the judge to reconsider the ruling. Typically, motions for reconsideration are an option in the following cases:

  • The losing party is not satisfied with the Court’s order and believe that the judge or judges did not properly examine or consider certain types of evidence, or
  • New, relevant evidence becomes available that someone was not able to present before the judge or judges made the decision

The difference between a motion for rehearing and a motion for reconsideration depends on the nature of the order to which the motion is directed. A motion for rehearing targets the court’s final order, while a motion for reconsideration is directed at a nonfinal order.

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure govern all appeals and motions for rehearing or reconsideration used in Florida courts. The Florida rules were patterned closely after the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure used by the U.S. Supreme Court and federal district and appellate courts.

Under Florida procedural law, motions for either reconsideration or rehearing aimed at a final judgment are treated as motions for rehearing. Motions aimed at nonfinal orders are treated as motions for reconsideration. Sometimes Florida lawyers title their motions “Motions for Rehearing/Reconsideration,” but doing so is not accurate because orders are either final or nonfinal, rarely both.

A Motion for Rehearing Must be Filed Within Five Days of the Final Ruling
Another difference between a motion for rehearing and motions for consideration involves when the motions must be filed. A motion for rehearing must be served within 15 days of the final order or final judgment being entered in the court. There is no time deadline for filing a motion for reconsideration directed at a nonfinal order with one exception. When a final judgment is entered, an attorney may not file a motion for reconsideration directed to a prior interlocutory order. The time limit for filing a motion for rehearing is incredibly short. Additionally, judges do not have authority under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to extend the time frame for filing a motion for rehearing.

In the past, some lawyers have thought that particular order in their case was non-final. As a result, the lawyers delay filing a motion for reconsideration since there is no deadline. They later discovered that the order was final and missed the deadline to file a motion for rehearing within the 15-day deadline.

Motions for rehearing that are not filed in appellate court within 15 days of the final order are routinely struck down. Working with an inexperienced appellate lawyer is important for this very reason. You want to ensure that your lawyer has an in-depth understanding of the requirements and deadlines for appealing your case and filing motions for rehearing or reconsideration.

Succeeding in a Motion for Rehearing
Motions for rehearing are not simply a way to disagree with the Appellate Court’s ruling. They are not a way to add new issues or new evidence that the court previously considered either. Instead, a motion for rehearing must state the particular points of law or fact that the court overlooked when making its decision. The attorney filing the motion for rehearing cannot present any new issues not previously raised before the trial court.

In other words, the plaintiff cannot bring forth new evidence that they recently discovered in a motion for rehearing. To do so, the losing party would need to file a motion for reconsideration. The attorney filing the motion for rehearing must state which particular legal rulings or fact the court “missed” when deciding. For example, the motion could address a recent intervening change in the law relevant to the case.

Doing so requires an attorney who understands the delicate balance between not bringing new facts or arguments into the motion but pointing out legal or factual errors made by the trial court. The attorney filing the motion must refer to specific parts of the trial court record that they missed to justify a rehearing.

Contact a Florida Appellate Lawyer Today
Have you experienced an unfavorable trial court ruling in Florida? If so, you need an experienced appellate lawyer on your side. Successfully appealing cases requires a unique skill set, one that attorney Donna Solomon of Solomon Appeals, Mediation & Arbitration has. Contact her law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.