TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Supreme Court recently determined the state needs eight more trial court judges in the 2019-20 fiscal year and certified its findings and recommendations.
In its recommendations issued Dec. 28, the Supreme Court certified the need for two more circuit judges in the Ninth Judicial Circuit covering Orange and Osceola counties; one more judge in the First Judicial Circuit covering Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties; one more judge in the 14th Judicial Circuit covering Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties; and four more judges in Hillsborough County. In this opinion, the Supreme Court also decertified the need for two more county court judges in Brevard County and one in Pasco County.
The high court said it used a verified objective weighted caseload methodology to come to its conclusion. It includes factors such as judgeship requests filed by the lower courts. It also takes into account several concerns that call for further review including the possible impact of a jurisdictional change in a county court, as well as trial court judges that have informed it of any changes in the law as the current case weights that were established in 2015 have lead to additional judicial involvement.
“Similarly, with the growth of problem-solving courts throughout the state and the increased number of cases handled by those problem-solving courts, it is important for this court, in its consideration of assessment of judicial need, to evaluate the impact of judicial workload these courts create,” the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court also pointed out that it’s necessary to evaluate and think about any needed increases in litigation for areas that were impacted by storms (i.e. Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Michael in October).
Chief Justice Charles T. Canady authored the opinion and Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince, Ricky Polston, Jorge Labarga, and Lawson concurred.