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Ninth Judicial Circuit Unveils New Case Management Process for Civil Cases

April 29, 2021

By: Jennifer R. Dixon

At a judicial town hall meeting before members of the Orange County Bar Association this morning, Chief Judge Don Myers introduced the Ninth Circuit’s new “active case management” program, to become effective today, that will apply to all civil cases pending or filed in Orange and Osceola County circuit and county courts. The adoption of this program represents a marked shift in the way cases are shepherded through the courts—taking what has historically been wide discretion away from attorneys and litigants as to the pacing of cases, and instead putting the onus on judges to keep cases moving.  

The active case management program was developed and adopted in response to Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order 20-23, Amendment 12, which not only continued or amended a number of COVID-19 related protocols, but also implemented processes to help state courts deal with the back log of cases that have languished during the pandemic. The Florida Supreme Court mandated that, effective April 30, 2021, all chief judges in the state issue and administrative order are to actively manage civil cases. The court also outlined the specific criteria to be adopted by the judicial circuits.  

View 20-23, Amendment 12

In accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive, the Ninth Circuit’s active case management program will require the parties (in pending cases) and the plaintiff (in newly filed cases) to designate whether the case is complex, streamlined, or a general civil case. In response to that designation, the court will issue a case management order imposing deadlines intended to move the case to conclusion based on prescribed timelines based on the case type. The active case management program will not apply to cases pending in the Complex Business Court or domestic cases.

Importantly, the active case management program imposes some additional administrative burdens on plaintiffs upon the filing of a case, including the requirement to file a standard case management plan with the complaint. Until a case management plan is filed by the plaintiff initiating a case, the summons will not issue. The Ninth Circuit’s implementation of the program is codified in Administrative Order 2021-04 at

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Jennifer R. Dixon is a pragmatic problem-solver. A shareholder in the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group and board certified in Appellate Law by the Florida Bar, she enjoys working closely with clients to determine the best solutions for their business or personal needs and strategizing how to achieve the best outcome possible.

An experienced and versatile civil litigator, Jennifer innately understands when an issue must be decided by a jury or a judge. She is also a certified mediator who recognizes when creative solutions can be used to effectively resolve a dispute on the parties’ terms. Whether in the courtroom or at the settlement table, Jennifer is a zealous advocate who works tirelessly on behalf of her clients.

Jennifer handles civil, family law, and probate appeals on behalf of litigants and amicus curiae, and she has successfully defended judgments and obtained reversals in both state and federal appellate courts. She is also experienced handling administrative appeals before the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

Acting as outside general counsel for several private enterprises, Jennifer regularly provides recommendations on issues related to risk assessment, litigation and compliance oversight, and contract administration. Her clients come from a wide variety of industries, including real estate, hospitality, construction, themed entertainment, healthcare and outdoor advertising.

Jennifer is also an experienced family and marital lawyer, frequently handling matters concerning divorce, child custody, support, and prenuptial agreements.

The depth and diversity of Jennifer’s legal experience affords her perspective in working with clients across all industries with varying legal needs.

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