After lawmakers turned down requests in recent years for more trial judges, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday said the state needs an additional three circuit judges and 32 county judges. The request came in an annual process known as a “certification of need” to the Legislature, which ultimately decides whether to approve new judges.
“As the state economy continues to steadily improve, we recognize that in a post-recessionary period competing demands for state funding persist across state government,” the Supreme Court said in a 10-page document. “We also note that, due in large part to the recession, the judicial branch has had no increase in trial court judges since 2007, despite a documented need.”
The court said one additional circuit judge is needed in the 1st Judicial Circuit, which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. It said two additional circuit judges are needed in the 5th Judicial Circuit, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.
“The First Judicial Circuit continues to experience a heavy criminal workload as well as a steady number of tobacco cases, which frequently go to trial and thus require significant judicial labor,” the Supreme Court said. “The Fifth Judicial Circuit continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of the state with a corresponding workload increase.”
The requested 32 county judges are primarily in heavily populated areas, including eight in Miami-Dade County, eight in Hillsborough County and five in Palm Beach County. The Supreme Court did not request any additional appeals-court judges. Lawmakers approved three appeals-court judge positions requested last year.
source: The News Service of Florida