On Wednesday, the First District Court of Appeal sided with the counties who argued the Department of Juvenile Justice was improperly shifting a portion of the state’s juvenile detention costs onto the counties. In doing so, the appellate court affirmed the Final Order of the Administrative Law Judge in Okaloosa, et al. v. DJJ
which invalidated the rules of the Department of Juvenile Justice pertaining to the administration of county juvenile detention cost share. The appellate court agreed with the counties that the plain meaning of the statute (s. 985.685(3)) sets the dividing line between county and state financial responsibility at the “final court disposition” and that “final court disposition” cannot be limited to only instances where a juvenile is “committed” to the Department as the state contended. The Court also agreed that the plain meaning of the statute (s.985.686(5)) requires that counties only be charged “actual costs” for their share of juvenile detention which is not the same as “actual expenditures” from the State/County Shared Trust Fund. As a result, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s order finding DJJ rules to be invalid.
Like the lower court opinion, the appellate court did not engage in a discussion or analysis of monetary damages, but rather focused only on the validity of the lower court’s ruling and the rules promulgated by DJJ. A link to the First DCA opinion is here - http://opinions.1dca.org/written/opinions2013/06-05-2013/12-3929.pdf.
FAC will meet with DJJ as soon as possible to ascertain how the Department plans to proceed.
A special thank you to all the counties who have been so persistent in their pursuit of this victory!