Scholastic Systems, Inc. v. LeLoup, 45320

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation307 So.2d 166
Docket NumberNo. 45320,45320
PartiesSCHOLASTIC SYSTEMS, INC. and the Travelers Ins. Co., Petitioners, v. Robert LeLOUP and State of Florida Industrial Relations Commission, Respondents.
Decision Date24 October 1974

Charles A. Zinn of Shackleford, Farrior, Stallings & Evans, Tampa, for petitioners.

Joseph L. Thury of Antinori, Cohen & Thury, Tampa, for respondents.

DEKLE, Justice.

We have for consideration a petition for writ of certiorari directed to the Industrial Relations Commission, our jurisdiction arising under Art. V, § 3(b) (3), Fla.Const., which provides that this Court 'may issue writs of certiorari to commissions established by general law having statewide jurisdiction.' The Industrial Relations Commission is within the purview of this constitutional language and its provision is clear that we May review the decisions of the Commission by way of certiorari; it is not, however, a mandatory review as is provided under Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla.Const., which sets forth that this Court Shall hear appeals falling within the scope of that provision. Thus, from a constitutional standpoint, our consideration of decisions of the Industrial Relations Commission is discretionary, a fact too often overlooked in our conscientious efforts to provide a review of IRC cases in the past.

This Court has from time to time reconsidered the manner in which it can best utilize its judicial resources within the framework of its extensive constitutional jurisdiction; otherwise, it would become physically impossible to give proper consideration to all cases which equally demand our careful review. One of the best known examples of such a re-appraisal was Foley v. Weaver Drugs, Inc., 177 So.2d 221 (Fla.1965), requiring that conflict certiorari must appear from the 'record proper' as a basis for review.

We have concluded after much 'soul searching' and upon careful analysis that there is no constitutional requirement for the extensive, appellate type of review previously afforded here in workmen's compensation cases. The United States Supreme Court has recently pointed out in a holding on the right to counsel that constitutional rights with respect to appeal do not include discretionary reviews. 1

Accordingly, our consideration of decisions of the Industrial Relations Commission will henceforth be governed by the traditional standard of 'departure from the essential requirements of law,' the same standard currently applied in certiorari review of orders of the Public Service Commission and in interlocutory petitions and common law certiorari. 2

Our review of orders of the Industrial Relations Commission, as initially noted, is prescribed by Art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla.Const., providing that we 'may issue writs of certiorari to commissions established by general law having statewide jurisdiction.' (emphasis ours) A different provision of Art. V, § 3(b)(7), states that we '(s)hall have the Power of direct review of administrative action prescribed by law.' (emphasis ours) Workmen's compensation review has been implemented by F.S. §§ 440.25(4)(d) and 440.27. In relevant part, § 440.25(4)(d) provides:

'The order of the commission shall become final upon expiration of the period within which any interested party may file a petition for writ of certiorari requesting review of such order by the supreme court unless within said time any interested party shall file a petition for writ of certiorari in accordance with § 440.27.'

In pertinent part, § 440.27 states:

'Orders of the commission entered pursuant to § 440.25 shall be subject to review only by petition for writ of certiorari to the supreme court.' 3

Neither of these two statutes attempts to make it mandatory (as of course a statute could not do) for an appellate court to exercise certiorari review fixed by the constitution. The statutes merely provide that certiorari is the sole means by which an IRC order May be reviewed. Common law certiorari lies only in the sound judicial discretion of an appellate court, and is not a matter of right. 5 Fla.Jur., Certiorari, § 10 (p. 494). It therefore appears that there is no Right to certiorari review in this Court of orders of the Industrial Relations Commission, unless it is otherwise compelled by other constitutional provisions.

The only constitutional provisions which appear to have any bearing on this question are Art. I, §§ 9 (due process) and 21 (access to the courts). Due process requires that no one shall be personally bound until he has had his 'day in court.' 6 Fla.Jur., Constitutional Law, § 320 (p. 547). A party is afforded his 'day in court' with respect to administrative decisions when he has a right to a hearing and has the right of an appeal to a judicial tribunal of the action of an administrative body. 4 One of the texts expressly refers to the hearing by a commission as meeting the due process requirement when it is stated in 16 Am.Jur.2d, Constitutional Law, § 581, at p. 987:

'In many matters the tribunal requirement of due process may be met by a board or commission . . ..'

Clearly, the right to a hearing is afforded by Ch. 440, F.S.; thus, the only question remaining is whether an appeal ('Petition for Review') to the Industrial Relations Commission constitutes the required appellate judicial review. It might be asked in another way: 'May the IRC properly be considered a judicial body?' If so, the parties have their right of appeal, thus fulfilling the requirement of § 9, Art. I, Fla.Const., without the additional full 'appellate' review here. The right of access to the courts in § 21, Art. I, is provided by the availability in this Court of traditional certiorari application to require compliance with the essential requirements of law which we are preserving.

We recently treated the IRC as a judicial body in our opinion at 285 So.2d 601 (Fla.1973), adopting its Workmen's Compensation Rules of Procedure. In our opinion we delineated the review of workmen's compensation cases by the IRC as 'judicial' and expressly recognized the judicial nature of its function. The federal court system has both 'Article I courts' and 'Article III courts,' an example of the former being the tax court. A body may be a 'court' without being named within the constitutional article dealing with the judiciary (in the case of our state constitution, Art. V), so long as it fulfills the requirements making it a judicial body of review. Our task is to determine what Qualities are necessary in order for a body exercising judicial functions to meet constitutional requirements. Black's Law Dictionary, Rev. 4th Ed., informs us that such a body is: (p. 425)

'A tribunal official assembled under authority of law at the appropriate time and place, for the administration of justice. In re Carter's Estate, 254 Pa. 518, 99 A. 58.

'An agency of the sovereign created by it directly or indirectly under its authority, consisting of one or more officers established and maintained for the purpose of hearing and determining issues of law and fact regarding legal rights and alleged violations thereof, and of applying the sanctions of the law, authorized to exercise its powers in due course of law at times and places previously determined by lawful authority, Isbill v. Stovall, Tex.Civ.App., 92 S.W.2d 1067, 1070.'

and further at p. 426 as:

'. . . having power and authority of law at the time of acting to do the particular act. Ex parte Plaistridge, 68 Okl. 256, 173 P. 646, 647.'

The term 'judicial function' is defined by Ballentine's Law Dictionary as: (p. 685)

'A function exercised by the employment of judicial powers.'

And in turn, 'judicial power' is defined as: (p. 686)

'That part of the sovereign power which belongs to the courts or, at least, does not belong to the legislative or executive department.'

Measured by these standards, the Industrial Relations Commission easily fits within these definitions as a judicial tribunal meeting constitutional requirements.

In recognizing the IRC as a judicial tribunal performing the functions of a court for purposes of the 'due process' provision of the constitution, we do not intend to imply that the IRC is literally a 'court,' for Art. V, § 1, Fla.Const., expressly prohibits the creation of any courts not expressly listed therein. We are merely recognizing that decisions of the IRC, in its capacity as a body reviewing determinations of Judges of Industrial Claims, are of such judicial nature as to satisfy this constitutional provision; nor does anything contained herein affect any organizational or administrative duties of the IRC or any applicability otherwise of the Administrative Procedure Act.

We have previously recognized the elevation of the status of the IRC as now constituted. Pierce v. Piper Aircraft Corp., 279 So.2d 281 (Fla.1973).

In that learned opinion, our thrice Chief Justice Roberts stated:

'In 1971, the Industrial Relations Commission began a new era when the Governor reorganized it into the fashion of a court. Legislative sanction was given to this reorganization by Section 20.17(7), Florida Statutes, F.S.A., which creates an Industrial Relations Commission, providing, in pertinent part,

"(7) There is created within the department of commerce an industrial relations commission to consist of a chairman and two other members all to be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, and all to serve full time. Not more than one appointee shall be a person who, on account of his previous vocation, employment, or affiliation, shall be classified as a representative of employers; and not more than one such appointee shall be a person who, on account of his previous vocation, employment, or affiliation, shall be classified as a representative of employees. Each appointee shall have the qualifications required by law for circuit judges. . . .' (emphasis supplied)

'The Commissioners are now required to be full-time and to...

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