The Florida Supreme Court called Wednesday for the creation 10 new circuit and county judgeships next year.
In the annual opinion sent to the state Legislature, the Court expressed a “demonstrable need for additional circuit judges.”
The opinion requests two more judges in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, in Orange and Osceola counties; one in the First Judicial Circuit, in Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties; and another in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties.
In county courts, the Supreme Court called for four more judges in Hillsborough County, one in Orange County and another in Lee County.
Each year, the Florida Supreme Court justices uses a determined system to make an “objective” certification, according to a Court news release.
While the Court submits the recommendation annually, the Legislature mandates the number of state judges for the coming fiscal year.
Last year, the Legislature authorized two circuit court judgeships and two county court judgeships, the first increases since 2006. The Legislature approved three district court judges in 2014.
Yet, the Court consistently certifies judges at the two lower levels. Initial judgeship requests, court caseloads, available judge time and local factors inform the final certification count.
The Court also decertifies judge roles, this year calling to close two judgeships in Brevard County one in Monroe County and another in Collier County.
Factors outside of the main methodology also inform these yearly decisions, the Court wrote:
“We also consider not only recently adopted legislation but also potential legislation and rule changes that could have a significant impact.”
This year, the Legislature agreed to gradually increase the maximum dollar amounts county courts may consider, with the maximum reaching $50,000 in 2023. The Court said it cannot yet predict the precise impact of the changes.
Last year, the Court only certified four circuit and one county court judgeships.