The texting while driving law that took effect in October, 2013 is one of several reasons why the Florida judicial system needs 32 additional county court judges and three new circuit court judges, according to an annual Certification of Need for Additional Judges published December 22 by the Florida Supreme Court.
The recent news that Florida has surpassed New York to become the third largest state in the nation, while not cited by the Court, coincides with increasing pressure on the state’s judicial system.
The Florida Supreme Court analysis breaks down judicial needs by county, with the greatest number of county court certified judicial position recommendations as follows:
- Three judges in the Fourth Circuit of Duval County (Jacksonville area)
- Eight judges in the Eleventh Circuit of Miami-Dade County
- Eight judges in the Thirteenth Circuit of Hillsborough County (Tampa area)
- Five judges in the Fifteenth Circuit of Palm Beach County
A total of three circuit court judges are also suggested. One circuit court certified judicial position is requested for the First Judicial Circuit, which serves Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties in northwest Florida. This circuit experiences a heavy criminal workload and a steady number of tobacco cases, according to the court analysis.
Two circuit court judicial positions are recommended for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties. The Fifth circuit is the ninth most populous circuit with 5.5% of Florida’s population, according to the court.
There is no request for new judges in the District Courts of Appeal at this time
In its analysis, the Court cites recent trends in the volume and type of cases:
- Six percent increase in probate filings
- Nine percent increase in dependency filings
- One percent increase in circuit civil filings (excluding real property)
The Court also reported declines in domestic relations filings (three percent), felony and juvenile delinquency filings (seven percent each).
The Florida Supreme Court request notes that judges across the state continue to bear the burden of increasing workloads after the number of support staff – including case managers, law clerks and magistrates – was reduced in earlier budget cut backs.
Click on the link to read the full annual Certification of Need for Additional Judges published December 22 by the Florida Supreme Court.