Sprinkle list: Court clerk pandemic recovery plan to get $6M

covid 19 court
Court clerks generally stay funded through court fees. This year, they'll have the boost from the state on top of an influx in court fees.

The House has budgeted $6 million for the Clerks of Court Pandemic Recovery Plan.

That recovery plan was a $6.8 million request to provide resources to support the services clerks provide as Floridians attempt to navigate a logjam of cases in the court system.

The House and Senate had previously agreed to fund the plan at $250,000. But the latest funding comes through the “sprinkle list” process.

The sprinkle list is what Capitol insiders call the last minute budget items saved till the end of the budget process to sweeten the pot and provide funding for some pet products.

When fully funded, the plan would provide 102 temporary positions to manage the backlog of cases the Office of the State Courts Administrator anticipates. That matched the office’s request for $12.5 million for 102 senior judges and magistrates, which lawmakers ultimately agreed to.

Increasing the number of judges and magistrates would increase the workload for clerks.

Despite the implied parallel between boosting judges and an increased workload on clerks, top House negotiator Jay Trumbull argued it didn’t matter that clerks didn’t receive their additional funding boost until the late stages of budget negotiations.

“At the end of the day it’s what this the final product of the budget looks like and as you can see, regardless of where it came in,” Trumbull said. “It was something that will be done to make sure that they have added resources.”

Past budget reductions, compounded by the financial impacts of COVID-19, have caused Clerks across the state to take drastic measures that include staff layoffs, reduced operational hours and branch closures, Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers CEO Chris Hart IV wrote earlier this year.

“They’re a private company, and they keep their funds. We were giving them additional funds so they can get their work done in this upcoming year,” said top Senate negotiator Kelli Stargel.

An estimated 1 million extra court cases will be pending in the state’s court system by July. The additional caseload comes from court delays because of the pandemic and pandemic-generated cases related to both the public health emergency and declining economic conditions. That’s according to the Florida State Courts annual report.

The court’s backlog includes pending felony cases that top 27,000, which are expected to take several years to work their way through, according to the latest Criminal Justice Estimating Conference from the Economic and Demographic Research.

The courts requested $12.5 million in non-recurring general revenue “for temporary adjudicatory and case support resources for each of the next three years.”

Court clerks generally stay funded through court fees. This year, they’ll have the boost from the state on top of an influx in court fees.

“Last year, they didn’t have the work, they also didn’t have the fees,” Stargel added. “This year, they’ll have the work and they’ll have the fees that go with that.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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    April 29, 2021 at 4:41 am

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  • Weed Delivery

    May 4, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Hello! Thank you for keeping us posted. This really is something we should have been considering for a long time. I think it’s really important to maintain judges and magistrates, I think this news is definitely good for everyone. And I hope this pandemic will go away soon because not only judges and magistrates have problems because of the COVID-19. I’ve never thought it would have such aftermaths.

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