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Florida Rules of Judicial Administration
Part II
State Court Administration

RULE 2.205 | THE SUPREME COURT

(a) Internal Government.
(1) Exercise of Powers and Jurisdiction.
(A) The supreme court shall exercise its powers, including establishing policy for the judicial branch, and jurisdiction en banc. Five justices shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of 4 shall be necessary to a decision. In cases requiring only a panel of 5, if 4 of the 5 justices who consider the case do not concur, it shall be submitted to the other 2 justices.
(B) Consistent with the authority of the supreme court to establish policy, including recommending state budget and compensation priorities for the judicial branch, no judge, supreme court created committee, commission, task force, or similar group, and no conference (Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges, Conference of Circuit Court Judges, Conference of County Court Judges) is permitted to recommend state budget priorities, including compensation and benefits, to the legislative or executive branch that have not been approved by the supreme court. This subdivision is not intended to apply to judges expressing their personal views who affirmatively state that they are not speaking on behalf of the judicial branch.
(C) Newly created judicial branch commissions, committees, task forces, work groups, and similar study or advisory groups must be established by the supreme court, not solely by the chief justice. Such study or advisory groups may be created and charged by rule adopted by the court, or by administrative order issued by the chief justice in accordance with court action. Members of such groups shall be appointed by administrative order of the chief justice, after consultation with the court. When practicable, ad hoc committees and other ad hoc study or advisory groups, which should be used to address specific problems, shall be established under the umbrella of an existing committee or commission, which should be used to address long-term problems.

(2) Chief Justice.
(A) The chief justice shall be chosen by majority vote of the justices for a term of 2 years commencing on July 1, 2012. The selection of the chief justice should be based on managerial, administrative, and leadership abilities, without regard to seniority only. A chief justice may serve successive terms limited to a total of 8 years. The chief justice may be removed by a vote of 4 justices. If a vacancy occurs, a successor shall be chosen promptly to serve the balance of the unexpired term.
(B) The chief justice shall be the administrative officer of the judicial branch and of the supreme court and shall be responsible for the dispatch of the business of the branch and of the court and direct the implementation of policies and priorities as determined by the supreme court for the operation of the branch and of the court. The administrative powers and duties of the chief justice shall include, but not be limited to: (i) the responsibility to serve as the primary spokesperson for the judicial branch regarding policies and practices that have statewide impact including, but not limited to, the judicial branch’s management, operation, strategic plan, legislative agenda and budget priorities;
(ii) the power to act on requests for stays during the pendency of proceedings, to order the consolidation of cases, to determine all procedural motions and petitions relating to the time for filing and size of briefs and other papers provided for under the rules of this court, to advance or continue cases, and to rule on other procedural matters relating to any proceeding or process in the court;
(iii) the power to assign active or retired county, circuit, or appellate judges or justices to judicial service in this state, in accordance with subdivisions (a)(3) and (a)(4) of this rule;
(iv) the power, upon request of the chief judge of any circuit or district, or sua sponte, in the event of natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation requiring the closure of courts or other circumstances inhibiting the ability of litigants to comply with deadlines imposed by rules of procedure applicable in the courts of this state, to enter such order or orders as may be appropriate to suspend, toll, or otherwise grant relief from time deadlines imposed by otherwise applicable statutes and rules of procedure for such period as may be appropriate, including, without limitation, those affecting speedy trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings, all civil process and proceedings, and all appellate time limitations;
(v) the authority to directly inform all judges on a regular basis by any means, including, but not limited to, email on the state of the judiciary, the state of the budget, issues of importance, priorities and other matters of stateside interest; furthermore, the chief justice shall routinely communicate with the chief judges and leaders of the district courts, circuit and county court conferences by the appropriate means;
(vi) the responsibility to exercise reasonable efforts to promote and encourage diversity in the administration of justice; and
(vii) the power to perform such other administrative duties as may be required and which are not otherwise provided for by law or rule.

(C) The chief justice shall be notified by all justices of any contemplated absences from the court and the reasons therefor. When the chief justice is to be temporarily absent, the chief justice shall select the justice longest in continuous service as acting chief justice.
(D) If the chief justice dies, retires, or is unable to perform the duties of the office, the justice longest in continuous service shall perform the duties during the period of incapacity or until a successor chief justice is elected.
(E) The chief justice shall meet on a regular basis with the chief judges of the district courts and the chief judges of the circuit courts to discuss and provide feedback for implementation of policies and practices that have statewide impact including, but not limited to, the judicial branch’s management, operation, strategic plan, legislative agenda and budget priorities. Such meetings shall, if practicable, occur at least quarterly and be conducted in-person. At the discretion of the chief justice, any of these meetings may be combined with other judicial branch and leadership meetings and, where practicable include the justices of the supreme court.

(3) Administration.
(A) The chief justice may, either upon request or when otherwise necessary for the prompt dispatch of business in the courts of this state, temporarily assign justices of the supreme court, judges of district courts of appeal, circuit judges, and judges of county courts to any court for which they are qualified to serve. Any consenting retired justice or judge may be assigned to judicial service and receive compensation as provided by law.
(B) For the purpose of judicial administration, a “retired judge” is defined as a judge not engaged in the practice of law who has been a judicial officer of this state. A retired judge shall comply with all requirements that the supreme court deems necessary relating to the recall of retired judges.
(C) When a judge who is eligible to draw retirement compensation has entered the private practice of law, the judge may be eligible for recall to judicial service upon cessation of the private practice of law and approval of the judge’s application to the court. The application shall state the period of time the judge has not engaged in the practice of law, and must be approved by the court before the judge shall be eligible for recall to judicial service.
(D) A “senior judge” is a retired judge who is eligible to serve on assignment to temporary judicial duty.

(4) Assignments of Justices and Judges.
(A) When a justice of the supreme court is unable to perform the duties of office, or when necessary for the prompt dispatch of the business of the court, the chief justice may assign to the court any judge who is qualified to serve, for such time as the chief justice may direct. However, no retired justice who is eligible to serve on assignment to temporary judicial duty or other judge who is qualified to serve may be assigned to the supreme court, or continue in such assignment, after 7 sitting duly sworn justices are available and able to perform the duties of office.
(B) When a judge of any district court of appeal is unable to perform the duties of office, or when necessary for the prompt dispatch of the business of the court, the chief judge shall advise the chief justice and the chief justice may assign to the court any judge who is qualified to serve, for such time or such proceedings as the chief justice may direct.
(C) When any circuit or county judge is unable to perform the duties of office, or when necessary for the prompt dispatch of the business of the court, the chief judge of the circuit may assign any judge in the circuit to temporary service for which the judge is qualified, in accordance with rule 2.215. If the chief judge deems it necessary, the chief judge may request the chief justice to assign a judge to the court for such time or such proceedings as the chief justice may direct.


(b) Clerk.
(1) Appointment. The supreme court shall appoint a clerk who shall hold office at the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. The clerk’s compensation shall be fixed by law. The clerk’s office shall be in the supreme court building. The clerk shall devote full time to the duties of the office and shall not engage in the practice of law while in office.
(2) Custody of Records, Files, and Seal. All court records and the seal of the court shall be kept in the office and the custody of the clerk. The clerk shall not allow any court record to be taken from the clerk’s office or the courtroom, except by a justice of the court or upon the order of the court.
(3) Records of Proceedings. The clerk shall keep such records as the court may from time to time order or direct. The clerk shall keep a docket or equivalent electronic record of all cases that are brought for review to, or that originate in, the court. Each case shall be numbered in the order in which the notice, petition, or other initial pleading originating the cause is filed in the court.
(4) Filing Fee. In all cases filed in the court, the clerk shall require the payment of a fee as provided by law when the notice, petition, or other initial pleading is filed. The payment shall not be exacted in advance in appeals in which a party has been adjudicated insolvent for the purpose of an appeal or in appeals in which the state is the real party in interest as the moving party. The payment of the fee shall not be required in habeas corpus proceedings, or appeals therefrom, arising out of or in connection with criminal actions.
(5) Issuance and Recall of Mandate; Recordation and Notification. The clerk shall issue such mandates or process as may be directed by the court. If, within 120 days after a mandate has been issued, the court directs that a mandate be recalled, then the clerk shall recall the mandate. Upon the issuance or recall of any mandate, the clerk shall record the issuance or recall in a book or equivalent electronic record kept for that purpose, in which the date of issuance or date of recall and the manner of transmittal of the process shall be noted. In proceedings in which no mandate is issued, upon final adjudication of the pending cause the clerk shall transmit to the party affected thereby a copy of the court’s order or judgment. The clerk shall notify the attorneys of record of the issuance of any mandate, the recall of any mandate, or the rendition of any final judgment. The clerk shall furnish without charge to all attorneys of record in any cause a copy of any order or written opinion rendered in such action.
(6) Return of Original Papers. Upon the conclusion of any proceeding in the supreme court, the clerk shall return to the clerk of the lower court the original papers or files transmitted to the court for use in the cause.

(c) Librarian.
(1) Appointment. The supreme court shall appoint a librarian of the supreme court and such assistants as may be necessary. The supreme court library shall be in the custody of the librarian, but under the exclusive control of the court. The library shall be open to members of the bar of the supreme court, to members of the legislature, to law officers of the executive or other departments of the state, and to such other persons as may be allowed to use the library by special permission of the court.
(2) Library Hours. The library shall be open during such times as the reasonable needs of the bar require and shall be governed by regulations made by the librarian with the approval of the court.
(3) Books. Books shall not be removed from the library except for use by, or upon order of, any justice.

(d) Marshal.
(1) Appointment. The supreme court shall appoint a marshal who shall hold office at the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. The marshal’s compensation shall be fixed by law.
(2) Duties. The marshal shall have power to execute process of the court throughout the state and such other powers as may be conferred by law. The marshal may deputize the sheriff or a deputy sheriff in any county to execute process of the court and shall perform such clerical or ministerial duties as the court may direct or as required by law. Subject to the direction of the court, the marshal shall be custodian of the supreme court building and grounds.

(e) State Courts Administrator.
(1) Appointment. The supreme court shall appoint a state courts administrator who shall serve at the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. The state courts administrator’s compensation shall be fixed by law.
(2) Duties. The state courts administrator shall supervise the administrative office of the Florida courts, which shall be maintained at such place as directed by the supreme court; shall employ such other personnel as the court deems necessary to aid in the administration of the state courts system; shall represent the state courts system before the legislature and other bodies with respect to matters affecting the state courts system and functions related to and serving the system; shall supervise the preparation and submission to the supreme court, for review and approval, of a tentative budget request for the state courts system and shall appear before the legislature in accordance with the court’s directions in support of the final budget request on behalf of the system; shall inform the judiciary of the state courts system’s final budget request and any proposed substantive law changes approved by the supreme court; shall assist in the preparation of educational and training materials for the state courts system and related personnel, and shall coordinate or assist in the conduct of educational and training sessions for such personnel; shall assist all courts in the development of improvements in the system, and submit to the chief justice and the court appropriate recommendations to improve the state courts system; and shall collect and compile uniform financial and other statistical data or information reflective of the cost, workloads, business, and other functions related to the state courts system. The state courts administrator is the custodian of all records in the administrator’s office.

(f) Open Sessions. All sessions of the court shall be open to the public, except proceedings designated as confidential by the court and conference sessions held for the discussion and consideration of pending cases, for the formulation of opinions by the court, and for the discussion or resolution of other matters related to the administration of the state courts system.

(g) Designation of Assigned Judges. When any judge of another court is assigned for temporary service on the supreme court, that judge shall be designated, as author or participant, by name and initials followed by the words “Associate Justice.”

RULE 2.210 | DISTRICT COURTS OF APPEAL

(a) Internal Government.
(1) Exercise of Powers and Jurisdiction. Three judges shall constitute a panel for and shall consider each case, and the concurrence of a majority of the panel shall be necessary to a decision.
(2) Chief Judge.
(A) The selection of a chief judge should be based on managerial, administrative, and leadership abilities, without regard to seniority only.
(B) The chief judge shall be the administrative officer of the court, and shall, consistent with branch-wide policies, direct the formation and implementation of policies and priorities for the operation of the court. The chief judge shall exercise administrative supervision over all judges and court personnel. The chief judge shall be responsible to the chief justice of the supreme court. The chief judge may enter and sign administrative orders. The administrative powers and duties of the chief judge include, but are not limited to, the power to order consolidation of cases, and to assign cases to the judges for the preparation of opinions, orders, or judgments. The chief judge shall have the authority to require all judges of the court, court officers and court personnel, to comply with all court and judicial branch policies, administrative orders, procedures, and administrative plans.
(C) The chief judge shall maintain liaison in all judicial administrative matters with the chief justice of the supreme court, and shall, considering available resources, ensure the efficient and proper administration of the court. The chief judge shall develop an administrative plan that shall include an administrative organization capable of effecting the prompt disposition of cases, the assignment of judges, other court officers, and court personnel, and the control of dockets. The administrative plan shall include a consideration of the statistical data developed by the case reporting system.
(D) All judges shall inform the chief judge of any contemplated absences that will affect the progress of the court’s business. If a judge is temporarily absent, is disqualified in an action, or is unable to perform the duties of the office, the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee may assign a matter pending before the judge to any other judge or any additional assigned judge of the same court. If it appears to the chief judge that the speedy, efficient, and proper administration of justice so requires, the chief judge shall request the chief justice of the supreme court to assign temporarily an additional judge or judges from outside the court to duty in the court requiring assistance, and shall advise the chief justice whether or not the approval of the chief judge of the court from which the assignment is to be made has been obtained. The assigned judges shall be subject to administrative supervision of the chief judge for all purposes of this rule. Nothing in this rule shall restrict the constitutional powers of the chief justice of the supreme court to make such assignments as the chief justice shall deem appropriate.
(E) The chief judge shall regulate the use of all court facilities, regularly examine the dockets of the courts under the chief judge’s administrative supervision, and require a report on the status of the matters on the docket. The chief judge may take such action as may be necessary to cause the docket to be made current.
(F) The chief judge shall be chosen by a majority of the active judges of the court for a term commencing on July 1 of each odd-numbered year, and shall serve for a term of 2 years. A chief judge may serve for successive terms but in no event shall the total term as chief judge exceed 8 years. In the event of a vacancy, a successor shall be chosen promptly to serve the balance of the unexpired term. If the chief judge is unable to discharge these duties, the judge longest in continuous service or, as between judges with equal continuous service, the one having the longest unexpired term and able to do so, shall perform the duties of chief judge pending the chief judge’s return to duty. Judges shall notify the chief judge of any contemplated absence from the court and the reasons therefor. A chief judge may be removed as chief judge by the supreme court, acting as the administrative supervisory body of all courts, or by a two-thirds vote of the active judges.
(G) The failure of any judge to comply with an order or directive of the chief judge shall be considered neglect of duty and may be reported by the chief judge to the chief justice of the supreme court who shall have the authority to take such corrective action as may be appropriate. The chief judge may report the neglect of duty by a judge to the Judicial Qualifications Commission or other appropriate person or body, or take such other corrective action as may be appropriate.
(H) At the call of the chief justice, the chief judges of the circuit court and district courts of appeal shall meet on a regular basis and with each other and with the chief justice to discuss and provide feedback for implementation of policies and practices that have statewide impact including, but not limited to, the judicial branch’s management, operation, strategic plan, legislative agenda and budget priorities. Such meetings shall, if practicable, occur at least quarterly and be conducted in person. At the discretion of the chief justice, any of these meetings may be combined with other judicial branch and leadership meetings.
(I) The chief judge shall have the responsibility to exercise reasonable efforts to promote and encourage diversity in the administration of justice.


(b) Clerk.
(1) Appointment. The court shall appoint a clerk who shall hold office at the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. The clerk’s compensation shall be fixed by law. The clerk’s office shall be in the headquarters of the court. The clerk’s time shall be devoted to the duties of the office and the clerk shall not engage in the private practice of law while serving as clerk. All court records and the seal of the court shall be kept in the office and the custody of the clerk. The clerk shall not allow any court record to be taken from the clerk’s office or the courtroom, except by a judge of the court or upon order of the court.
(2) Records of Proceedings. The clerk shall keep such records as the court may from time to time order or direct. The clerk shall keep a docket or equivalent electronic record of all cases that are brought for review to, or that originate in, the court. Each case shall be numbered in the order that the notice, petition, or other initial pleading originating the proceeding is filed in the court.
(3) Filing Fee. In all cases filed in the court, the clerk shall require the payment of a fee as provided by law at the time the notice, petition, or other initial pleading is filed. The payment shall not be exacted in advance in appeals in which a party has been adjudicated insolvent for the purpose of an appeal or in appeals in which the state is the real party in interest as the moving party. The payment of the fee shall not be required in habeas corpus proceedings or appeals therefrom.
(4) Issuance and Recall of Mandate; Recordation and Notification. The clerk shall issue such mandates or process as may be directed by the court. If, within 120 days after a mandate has been issued, the court directs that a mandate be recalled, then the clerk shall recall the mandate. If the court directs that a mandate record shall be maintained, then upon the issuance or recall of any mandate the clerk shall record the issuance or recall in a book or equivalent electronic record kept for that purpose, in which shall be noted the date of issuance or the date of recall and the manner of transmittal of the process. In proceedings in which no mandate is issued, upon final adjudication of the pending cause the clerk shall transmit to the party affected thereby a copy of the court’s order or judgment. The clerk shall notify the attorneys of record of the issuance of any mandate, the recall of any mandate, or the rendition of any final judgment. The clerk shall furnish without charge to all attorneys of record in any cause a copy of any order or written opinion rendered in such action.
(5) Return of Original Papers. The clerk shall retain all original papers, files, and exhibits transmitted to the court for a period of not less than 30 days after rendition of the opinion or order denying any motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.330, whichever is later. If no discretionary review proceeding or appeal has been timely commenced in the supreme court to review the court’s decision within 30 days, the clerk shall transmit to the clerk of the trial court the original papers, files, and exhibits. If a discretionary review proceeding or appeal has been timely commenced in the supreme court to review the court’s decision, the original papers, files, and exhibits shall be retained by the clerk until transmitted to the supreme court or, if not so transmitted, until final disposition by the supreme court and final disposition by the court pursuant to the mandate issued by the supreme court.

(c) Marshal.
(1) Appointment. The court shall appoint a marshal who shall hold office at the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. The marshal’s compensation shall be fixed by law.
(2) Duties. The marshal shall have power to execute process of the court throughout the district, and in any county therein may deputize the sheriff or a deputy sheriff for such purpose. The marshal shall perform such clerical or ministerial duties as the court may direct or as are required by law. The marshal shall be custodian of the headquarters occupied by the court, whether the headquarters is an entire building or a part of a building.

(d) Open Sessions. All sessions of the court shall be open to the public, except conference sessions held for the discussion and consideration of pending cases, for the formulation of opinions by the court, and for the discussion or resolution of other matters related to the administration of the court.

(e) Designation of Assigned Judges. When any justice or judge of another court is assigned for temporary service on a district court of appeal, that justice or judge shall be designated, as author or participant, by name and initials followed by the words “Associate Judge.”

RULE 2.215 | TRIAL COURT ADMINISTRATION

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to fix administrative responsibility in the chief judges of the circuit courts and the other judges that the chief judges may designate. When these rules refer to the court, they shall be construed to apply to a judge of the court when the context requires or permits.

(b) Chief Judge.
(1) The chief judge shall be a circuit judge who possesses managerial, administrative, and leadership abilities, and shall be selected without regard to seniority only.
(2) The chief judge shall be the administrative officer of the courts within the circuit and shall, consistent with branch-wide policies, direct the formation and implementation of policies, and priorities for the operation of all courts and officers within the circuit. The chief judge shall exercise administrative supervision over all judges and court personnel within the judicial circuit. The chief judge shall be responsible to the chief justice of the supreme court. The chief judge may enter and sign administrative orders, except as otherwise provided by this rule. The chief judge shall have the authority to require that all judges of the court, other court officers, and court personnel comply with all court and judicial branch policies, administrative orders, procedures and administrative plans.
(3) The chief judge shall maintain liaison in all judicial administrative matters with the chief justice of the supreme court, and shall, considering available resources, ensure the efficient and proper administration of all courts within that circuit. The chief judge shall develop an administrative plan that shall be filed with the supreme court and shall include an administrative organization capable of effecting the prompt disposition of cases; assignment of judges, other court officers, and all other court personnel; control of dockets; regulation and use of courtrooms; and mandatory periodic review of the status of the inmates of the county jail. The plan shall be compatible with the development of the capabilities of the judges in such a manner that each judge will be qualified to serve in any division, thereby creating a judicial pool from which judges may be assigned to various courts throughout the state. The administrative plan shall include a consideration of the statistical data developed by the case reporting system. Questions concerning the administration or management of the courts of the circuit shall be directed to the chief justice of the supreme court through the state courts administrator.
(4) The chief judge shall assign judges to the courts and divisions, and shall determine the length of each assignment. The chief judge is authorized to order consolidation of cases, and to assign cases to a judge or judges for the preparation of opinions, orders, or judgments. All judges shall inform the chief judge of any contemplated absences that will affect the progress of the court’s business. If a judge is temporarily absent, is disqualified in an action, or is unable to perform the duties of the office, the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee may assign a proceeding pending before the judge to any other judge or any additional assigned judge of the same court. The chief judge may assign any judge to temporary service for which the judge is qualified in any court in the same circuit. If it appears to the chief judge that the speedy, efficient, and proper administration of justice so requires, the chief judge shall request the chief justice of the supreme court to assign temporarily an additional judge or judges from outside the circuit to duty in the court requiring assistance, and shall advise the chief justice whether or not the approval of the chief judge of the circuit from which the assignment is to be made has been obtained. The assigned judges shall be subject to administrative supervision of the chief judge for all purposes of this rule. When assigning a judge to hear any type of postconviction or collateral relief proceeding brought by a defendant who has been sentenced to death, the chief judge shall assign to such cases a judge qualified to conduct such proceedings under subdivision (b)(10) of this rule. Nothing in this rule shall restrict the constitutional powers of the chief justice of the supreme court to make such assignments as the chief justice shall deem appropriate.
(5) The chief judge may designate a judge in any court or court division of circuit or county courts as “administrative judge” of any court or division to assist with the administrative supervision of the court or division. To the extent practical, the chief judge shall assign only one administrative judge to supervise the family court. The designee shall be responsible to the chief judge, shall have the power and duty to carry out the responsibilities assigned by the chief judge, and shall serve at the pleasure of the chief judge.
(6) The chief judge may require the attendance of prosecutors, public defenders, clerks, bailiffs, and other officers of the courts, and may require from the clerks of the courts, sheriffs, or other officers of the courts periodic reports that the chief judge deems necessary.
(7) The chief judge shall regulate the use of all court facilities, regularly examine the dockets of the courts under the chief judge’s administrative supervision, and require a report on the status of the matters on the dockets. The chief judge may take such action as may be necessary to cause the dockets to be made current. The chief judge shall monitor the status of all postconviction or collateral relief proceedings for defendants who have been sentenced to death from the time that the mandate affirming the death sentence has been issued by the supreme court and shall take the necessary actions to assure that such cases proceed without undue delay. On the first day of every January, April, July, and October, the chief judge shall inform the chief justice of the supreme court of the status of all such cases.
(8) The chief judge or the chief judge’s designee shall regularly examine the status of every inmate of the county jail.
(9) The chief judge may authorize the clerks of courts to maintain branch county court facilities. When so authorized, clerks of court shall be permitted to retain in such branch court facilities all county court permanent records of pending cases, and may retain and destroy these records in the manner provided by law.
(10) (A) The chief judge shall not assign a judge to preside over a capital case in which the state is seeking the death penalty, or collateral proceedings brought by a death row inmate, until that judge has become qualified to do so by:
(i) presiding a minimum of 6 months in a felony criminal division or in a division that includes felony criminal cases, and
(ii) successfully attending the “Handling Capital Cases” course offered through the Florida Court Education Council. A judge whose caseload includes felony criminal cases must attend the “Handling Capital Cases” course as soon as practicable, or upon the direction of the chief judge.

(B) The chief justice may waive these requirements in exceptional circumstances at the request of the chief judge.
(C) Following attendance at the “Handling Capital Cases” course, a judge shall remain qualified to preside over a capital case by attending a “Capital Case Refresher” course once during each of the subsequent continuing judicial education (CJE) reporting periods. A judge who has attended the “Handling Capital Cases” course and who has not taken the “Capital Case Refresher” course within any subsequent continuing judicial education reporting period must requalify to preside over a capital case by attending the refresher course.
(D) The refresher course shall be at least a 6-hour course and must be approved by the Florida Court Education Council. The course must contain instruction on the following topics: penalty phase, jury selection, and proceedings brought pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851.

(11) The failure of any judge to comply with an order or directive of the chief judge shall be considered neglect of duty and may be reported by the chief judge to the chief justice of the supreme court who shall have the authority to take any corrective action as may be appropriate. The chief judge may report the neglect of duty by a judge to the Judicial Qualifications Commission or other appropriate person or body, or take such other corrective action as may be appropriate.
(12) At the call of the chief justice, the chief judges of the circuit court and district courts of appeal shall meet on a regular basis and with each other and with the chief justice to discuss and provide feedback for implementation of policies and practices that have statewide impact including, but not limited to, the judicial branch’s management, operation, strategic plan, legislative agenda and budget priorities. Such meetings shall, if practicable, occur at least quarterly and be conducted in person. At the discretion of the chief justice, any of these meetings may be combined with other judicial branch and leadership meetings.
(13) The chief judge shall have the responsibility to exercise reasonable efforts to promote and encourage diversity in the administration of justice.

(c) Selection. The chief judge shall be chosen by a majority of the active circuit and county court judges within the circuit for a term of 2 years commencing on July 1 of each odd-numbered year, or if there is no majority, by the chief justice, for a term of 2 years. The election for chief judge shall be held no sooner than February 1 of the year during which the chief judge’s term commences beginning July 1. All elections for chief judge shall be conducted as follows:
(1) All ballots shall be secret.
(2) Any circuit or county judge may nominate a candidate for chief judge.
(3) Proxy voting shall not be permitted.
(4) Any judge who will be absent from the election may vote by secret absentee ballot obtained from and returned to the Trial Court Administrator. A chief judge may be removed as chief judge by the supreme court, acting as the administrative supervisory body of all courts, or may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the active judges. The purpose of this rule is to fix a 2-year cycle for the selection of the chief judge in each circuit. A chief judge may serve for successive terms but in no event shall the total term as chief judge exceed 8 years. A chief judge who is to be temporarily absent shall select an acting chief judge from among the circuit judges. If a chief judge dies, retires, fails to appoint an acting chief judge during an absence, or is unable to perform the duties of the office, the chief justice of the supreme court shall appoint a circuit judge to act as chief judge during the absence or disability, or until a successor chief judge is elected to serve the unexpired term. When the office of chief judge is temporarily vacant pending action within the scope of this paragraph, the duties of court administration shall be performed by the circuit judge having the longest continuous service as a judge or by another circuit judge designated by that judge.

(d) Circuit Court Administrator. Each circuit court administrator shall be selected or terminated by the chief judge subject to concurrence by a majority vote of the circuit and county judges of the respective circuits.

(e) Local Rules and Administrative Orders.
(1) Local court rules as defined in rule 2.120 may be proposed by a majority of the circuit and county judges in the circuit. The judges shall notify the local bar within the circuit of the proposal, after which they shall permit a representative of the local bar, and may permit any other interested person, to be heard orally or in writing on the proposal before submitting it to the supreme court for approval. When a proposed local rule is submitted to the supreme court for approval, the following procedure shall apply:
(A) Local court rule proposals shall be submitted to the supreme court in January of each year. The supreme court may accept emergency proposals submitted at other times.
(B) Not later than February 15 of each year, the clerk of the supreme court shall submit all local court rule proposals to the Supreme Court Local Rules Advisory Committee created by rule 2.140. At the same time, the clerk of the supreme court shall send copies of the proposed rules to the appropriate committees of The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar committees, any interested local bar associations, and any other interested person shall submit any comments or responses that they wish to make to the Supreme Court Local Rules Advisory Committee on or before March 15 of the year.
(C) The Supreme Court Local Rules Advisory Committee shall meet on or before April 15 to consider the proposals and any comments submitted by interested parties. The committee shall transmit its recommendations to the supreme court concerning each proposal, with the reasons for its recommendations, within 15 days after its meeting.
(D) The supreme court shall consider the recommendations of the committee and may resubmit the proposals with modifications to the committee for editorial comment only. The supreme court may set a hearing on any proposals, or consider them on the recommendations and comments as submitted. If a hearing is set, notice shall be given to the chief judge of the circuit from which the proposals originated, the executive director of The Florida Bar, the chair of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee of The Florida Bar, any local bar associations, and any interested persons who made comments on the specific proposals to be considered. The supreme court shall act on the proposals promptly after the recommendations are received or heard.
(E) If a local court rule is approved by the supreme court, it shall become effective on the date set by that court.
(F) A copy of all local court rules approved by the supreme court shall be indexed and recorded by the clerk of the circuit court in each county of the circuit where the rules are effective. A set of the recorded copies shall be readily available for inspection as a public record, and copies shall be provided to any requesting party for the cost of duplication. The chief judge of the circuit may provide for the publication of the rules. The clerk of the supreme court shall furnish copies of each approved local court rule to the executive director of The Florida Bar.

(2) Any judge or member of The Florida Bar who believes that an administrative order promulgated under subdivision (b)(2) of this rule is a court rule or a local rule as defined in rule 2.120, rather than an administrative order, may apply to the Supreme Court Local Rules Advisory Committee for a decision on the question. The decisions of the committee concerning the determination of the question shall be reported to the supreme court, and the court shall follow the procedure set forth in subdivision (D) above in considering the recommendation of the committee.
(3) All administrative orders of a general and continuing nature, and all others designated by the chief judge, shall be indexed and recorded by the clerk of the circuit court in each county where the orders are effective. A set of the recorded copies shall be readily available for inspection as a public record, and copies shall be provided to any requesting party for the cost of duplication. The chief judge shall, on an annual basis, direct a review of all local administrative orders to ensure that the set of copies maintained by the clerk remains current and does not conflict with supreme court or local rules.
(4) All local court rules entered pursuant to this section shall be numbered sequentially for each respective judicial circuit.

(f) Duty to Rule within a Reasonable Time. Every judge has a duty to rule upon and announce an order or judgment on every matter submitted to that judge within a reasonable time. Each judge shall maintain a log of cases under advisement and inform the chief judge of the circuit at the end of each calendar month of each case that has been held under advisement for more than 60 days.

(g) Duty to Expedite Priority Cases. Every judge has a duty to expedite priority cases to the extent reasonably possible. Priority cases are those cases that have been assigned a priority status or assigned an expedited disposition schedule by statute, rule of procedure, case law, or otherwise. Particular attention shall be given to all juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases, cases involving families and children in need of services, challenges involving elections and proposed constitutional amendments, and capital postconviction cases. As part of an effort to make capital postconviction cases a priority, the chief judge shall have the discretion to create a postconviction division to handle capital postconviction, as well as non-capital postconviction cases, and may assign one or more judges to that division.

(h) Neglect of Duty. The failure of any judge, clerk, prosecutor, public defender, attorney, court reporter, or other officer of the court to comply with an order or directive of the chief judge shall be considered neglect of duty and shall be reported by the chief judge to the chief justice of the supreme court. The chief justice may report the neglect of duty by a judge to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and neglect of duty by other officials to the governor of Florida or other appropriate person or body.

(i) Status Conference after Compilation of Record in Death Case. In any proceeding in which a defendant has been sentenced to death, the circuit judge assigned to the case shall take such action as may be necessary to ensure that a complete record on appeal has been properly prepared. To that end, the judge shall convene a status conference with all counsel of record as soon as possible after the record has been prepared pursuant to rule of appellate procedure 9.200(d) but before the record has been transmitted. The purpose of the status conference shall be to ensure that the record is complete.

Committee Notes

2008 Amendment. The provisions in subdivision (g) of this rule should be read in conjunction with the provisions of rule 2.545(c) governing priority cases.

Court Commentary

1996 Court Commentary. Rule 2.050(h) [renumbered as 2.215(h) in 2006] should be read in conjunction with Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.140(b)(4)(A).
1997 Court Commentary. [Rule 2.050(b)(10), renumbered as 2.215(b)(10) in 2006]. The refresher course may be a six-hour block during any Florida Court Education Council approved course offering sponsored by any approved Florida judicial education provider, including the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies or the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges. The block must contain instruction on the following topics: penalty phase, jury selection, and rule 3.850 proceedings.
Failure to complete the refresher course during the three-year judicial education reporting period will necessitate completion of the original “Handling Capital Cases” course.
2002 Court Commentary. Recognizing the inherent differences in trial and appellate court dockets, the last sentence of subdivision (g) is intended to conform to the extent practicable with appellate rule 9.146(g), which requires appellate courts to give priority to appeals in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases, and in cases involving families and children in need of services.

Criminal Court Steering Committee Note

2014 Amendment. Capital postconviction cases were added to the list of priority cases.

RULE 2.220 | CONFERENCES OF JUDGES

(a) Conference of County Court Judges.
(1) Creation. There shall be a “Conference of County Court Judges of Florida,” consisting of the active and senior county court judges of the State of Florida.
(2) Purpose. The purpose of the conference shall be:
(A) the betterment of the judicial system of the state;
(B) the improvement of procedure and practice in the several courts;
(C) to conduct conferences and institutes for continuing judicial education and to provide forums in which the county court judges of Florida may meet and discuss mutual problems and solutions; and
(D) to provide input to the Unified Committee on Judicial Compensation on judicial compensation and benefit issues, and to assist the judicial branch in soliciting support and resources on these issues.

(3) Officers. Management of the conference shall be vested in the officers of the conference, an executive committee, and a board of directors.
(A) The officers of the conference shall be:
(i) the president, president-elect, immediate past president, secretary, and treasurer, who shall be elected at large; and
(ii) one vice-president elected from each appellate court district.

(B) The executive committee shall consist of the officers of the conference and an executive secretary.
(C) The board of directors shall consist of the executive committee and a member elected from each judicial circuit.
(D) There shall be an annual meeting of the conference.
(E) Between annual meetings of the conference, the affairs of the conference shall be managed by the executive committee.

(4) Authority. The conference may adopt governance documents, the provisions of which shall not be inconsistent with this rule.

(b) Conference of Circuit Court Judges.
(1) Organization. There shall be a “Conference of Circuit Court Judges of Florida,” consisting of the active and retired circuit judges of the several judicial circuits of the state, excluding retired judges practicing law.
(2) Purpose. The purpose of the conference shall be:
(A) the betterment of the judicial system of the state;
(B) the improvement of procedure and practice in the several courts;
(C) to conduct conferences and institutes for continuing judicial education and to provide forums in which the circuit court judges of Florida may meet and discuss mutual problems and solutions;
(D) to provide input to the Unified Committee on Judicial Compensation on judicial compensation and benefit issues, and to assist the judicial branch in soliciting support and resources on these issues;
(E) to report to the Florida Supreme Court recommendations as the conference may have concerning the improvement of procedure and practice in the several courts;
(F) to confer with the Florida Supreme Court regarding concerns the conference may have concerning the laws of this state affecting the administration of justice; and
(G) to provide to the Florida Legislature recommendations as the conference may have concerning laws of this state affecting the administration of justice.

(3) Officers. Management of the conference shall be vested in the officers of the conference, an executive committee, and a board of directors.
(A) The officers of the conference shall be the chair, chair-elect, secretary, and treasurer.
(B) The executive committee shall consist of the officers of the conference and such other members as the conference shall determine.
(C) The board of directors shall consist of the executive committee and membership in one shall be identical to membership of the other.
(D) There shall be an annual meeting of the conference.
(E) Between annual meetings of the conference, the affairs of the conference shall be managed by the executive committee.

(4) Authority. The conference may adopt governance documents, the provisions of which shall not be inconsistent with this rule.

(c) Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges.
(1) Creation. There shall be a “Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges,” consisting of the active and senior district court of appeal judges of the State of Florida.
(2) Purpose. The purpose of the conference shall be:
(A) the betterment of the judicial system of the state;
(B) the improvement of procedure and practice in the several courts;
(C) to conduct conferences and institutes for continuing judicial education and to provide forums in which the district court of appeal judges of Florida may meet and discuss mutual problems and solutions; and
(D) to provide input to the Unified Committee on Judicial Compensation on judicial compensation and benefit issues, and to assist the judicial branch in soliciting support and resources on these issues.

(3) Officers. Management of the conference shall be vested in the officers of the conference and an executive committee.
(A) The officers of the conference shall be the president, president-elect, and secretary-treasurer.
(B) The executive committee shall consist of the president and president-elect of the conference and the chief judge of each district court of appeal.
(C) There shall be an annual meeting of the conference.
(D) Between annual meetings of the conference, the affairs of the conference shall be managed by the executive committee.

(4) Authority.The conference may adopt governance documents, the provisions of which shall not be inconsistent with this rule.

RULE 2.225 | JUDICIAL MANAGEMENT COUNCIL

(a) Creation and Responsibilities. There is hereby created the Judicial Management Council of Florida, which shall meet at least quarterly, and be charged with the following responsibilities:
(1) identifying potential crisis situations affecting the judicial branch and developing strategy to timely and effectively address them;
(2) identifying and evaluating information that would assist in improving the performance and effectiveness of the judicial branch (for example, information including, but not limited to, internal operations for cash flow and budget performance, and statistical information by court and type of cases for (i) number of cases filed, (ii) aged inventory of cases —the number and age of cases pending, (iii) time to disposition —the percentage of cases disposed or otherwise resolved within established time frames, and (iv) clearance rates — the number of outgoing cases as a percentage of the number of incoming cases);
(3) developing and monitoring progress relating to long-range planning for the judicial branch;
(4) reviewing the charges of the various court and Florida Bar commissions and committees, recommending consolidation or revision of the commissions and committees, and recommending a method for the coordination of the work of those bodies based on the proposed revisions; and
(5) addressing issues brought to the council by the supreme court.

(b) Referrals. The chief justice and the supreme court shall consider referring significant new issues or problems with implications for judicial branch policy to the Judicial Management Council prior to the creation of any new committees.
(1) adopt the recommendation of the council in whole or in part, with or without conditions, including but not limited to:
(A) directing that action be taken to influence or change administrative policy, management practices, rules, or programs that are the subject of the recommendations;
(B) including the recommendation in the judicial branch’s legislative agenda or budget requests;

(2) refer specific issues or questions back to the council for further study or alternative recommendations;
(3) reject the recommendation or decision in whole or in part;
4) refer the recommendation to other entities, such as the Florida Legislature, the governor, the cabinet, executive branch agencies, or The Florida Bar, as the supreme court deems appropriate; or
(5) take alternative action.

(c) Supreme Court Action on Recommendations by the Judicial Management Council. The supreme court may take any or all of the following actions on recommendations made by the Judicial Management Council:

(d) Membership.
(1) The council shall consist of 15 voting members, including the chief justice, who shall chair the council, an additional justice of the supreme court, representatives from each level of court, and public members.
(2) All voting members shall be appointed by the supreme court. Each member, other than the chief justice, will initially be appointed for a 2- or 4- year term, with the terms staggered to ensure continuity and experience on the council and for 4-year terms thereafter.
(3) The state courts administrator shall be a nonvoting member. The council may request other nonvoting persons to participate on an as-needed temporary basis to gain expertise and experience in certain issues on review.

(e) Staff Support and Funding. The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall provide primary staff support to the Judicial Management Council. Adequate staffing and other resources shall be made available to the Office of the State Courts Administrator to ensure the effective and efficient completion of tasks assigned to the Judicial Management Council. Sufficient resources shall also be provided for meetings of the Judicial Management Council and its committees or subcommittees, and other expenses necessary to the satisfactory completion of its work.

RULE 2.230 | TRIAL COURT BUDGET COMMISSION

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to establish a Trial Court Budget Commission that will have the responsibility for developing and overseeing the administration of trial court budgets in a manner which ensures equity and fairness in state funding among the 20 judicial circuits.

(b) Responsibilities. The Trial Court Budget Commission is charged with specific responsibility to:
(1) establish budgeting and funding policies and procedures consistent with judicial branch plans and policies, directions from the supreme court, and in consideration of input from the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability and other supreme court committees and from the Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges and the Florida Conference of County Court Judges;
(2) make recommendations to the supreme court on the trial court component of the annual judicial branch budget request;
(3) advocate for the trial court component of the annual judicial branch budget request and associated statutory changes;
(4) make recommendations to the supreme court on funding allocation formulas and budget implementation and criteria as well as associated accountability mechanisms based on actual legislative appropriations;
(5) monitor trial court expenditure trends and revenue collections to identify unanticipated budget problems and to ensure the efficient use of resources;
(6) recommend statutory and rule changes related to trial court budgets;
(7) develop recommended responses to findings on financial audits and reports from the Supreme Court Inspector General, Auditor General, Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, and other governmental entities charged with auditing responsibilities regarding trial court budgeting when appropriate;
(8) recommend to the supreme court trial court budget reductions required by the legislature;
(9) identify potential additional sources of revenue for the trial courts;
(10) recommend to the supreme court legislative pay plan issues for trial court personnel, except the commission shall not make recommendations as to pay or benefits for judges; and
(11) request input from the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability on recommendations from that commission that may impact the trial court budget or require funding.

(c) Operational Procedures. The Trial Court Budget Commission will establish operating procedures necessary to carry out its responsibilities as outlined in subdivision (b), subject to final approval by the supreme court. These procedures shall include:
(1) a method for ensuring input from interested constituencies, including the chief judges and trial court administrators of the trial courts, other members of the trial court judiciary, the Judicial Management Council, the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability, and other judicial branch committees and commissions; and
(2) a method for appeal of the decisions of the Trial Court Budget Commission. Appeals may be made only by a chief judge on behalf of a circuit. Appeals may be heard only by the Trial Court Budget Commission unless the appeal is based on the failure of the commission to adhere to its operating procedures, in which case the appeal may be made to the supreme court.

(d) Action by Supreme Court or Chief Justice on Recommendations of Trial Court Budget Commission. The supreme court or chief justice, as appropriate, may take any or all of the following actions on recommendations made by the Trial Court Budget Commission:
(1) The adoption of the recommendations of the commission made in accordance with the discharge of its responsibilities listed in subdivision (b) in whole.
(2) The adoption of the recommendations in part and referral of specific issues or questions back to the commission for further study or alternative recommendations.

(e) Membership and Organization. The Trial Court Budget Commission will be composed of 21 voting members appointed by the chief justice who will represent the interests of the trial courts generally rather than the individual interests of a particular circuit or division. The respective presidents of the Conference of Circuit Court Judges and the Conference of County Court Judges and the chair of the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability shall serve as ex officio nonvoting members of the Commission. The chief justice will make appointments to ensure that the broad interests of the trial courts are represented by including members who have experience in different divisions, who have expertise in court operations or administrative matters, and who offer geographic, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.
(1) The membership must include 14 trial court judges and 7 trial court administrators.
(2) The chief justice will appoint 1 member to serve as chair and 1 member to serve as vice chair, each for a 2-year term.
(3) A supreme court justice will be appointed by the chief justice to serve as supreme court liaison.
(4) No circuit will have more than 2 members on the commission.
(5) The original members of the commission will be appointed as follows:
(A) 7 members shall be appointed for a 2-year term;
(B) 7 members shall be appointed for a 4-year term; and
(C) 7 members shall be appointed for one 6-year term.
All subsequent members will each be appointed for one 6-year term. In the event of a vacancy, the chief justice will appoint a new member to serve for the remainder of the departing member’s term.
(6) The commission may establish subcommittees as necessary to satisfactorily carry out its responsibilities. Subcommittees may make recommendations only to the commission as a whole. The chair of the commission may appoint a non-commission member to serve on a subcommittee.

(f) Staff Support and Funding. The Office of the State Courts Administrator will provide primary staff support to the commission. Adequate staffing and resources will be made available to the Office of the State Courts Administrator to ensure the commission is able to fulfill its responsibilities as outlined in the rule. Sufficient resources will also be provided for the commission and its subcommittees to meet and otherwise complete its work.

RULE 2.235 | DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL BUDGET COMMISSION

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to establish a District Court of Appeal Budget Commission with responsibility for developing and overseeing the administration of district court budgets in a manner which ensures equity and fairness in state funding among the 5 districts.

(b) Responsibilities. The District Court of Appeal Budget Commission is charged with specific responsibility to:
(1) establish budgeting and funding policies and procedures consistent with judicial branch plans and policies, directions from the supreme court, and in consideration of input from the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability, and other supreme court committees;
(2) make recommendations to the supreme court on a unitary district court component of the annual judicial branch budget request;
(3) advocate for the district court component of the annual judicial branch budget request;
(4) make recommendations to the supreme court on funding allocation formulas and/or criteria as well as associated accountability mechanisms based on actual legislative appropriations;
(5) monitor district court expenditure trends and revenue collections to identify unanticipated budget problems and to ensure the efficient use of resources;
(6) recommend statutory and rule changes related to district court budgets;
(7) develop recommended responses to findings on financial audits and reports from the Supreme Court Inspector General, Auditor General, Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, and other governmental entities charged with auditing responsibilities regarding district court budgeting when appropriate;
(8) recommend to the supreme court district court budget reductions required by the legislature;
(9) identify potential additional sources of revenue for the district courts;
(10) recommend to the supreme court legislative pay plan issues for district court personnel, except the commission shall not make recommendations as to pay or benefits for judges; and
(11) request input from the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability on recommendations from that commission that may impact the district court budget or require funding.

(c) Operational Procedures.The District Court of Appeal Budget Commission will establish operating procedures necessary to carry out its responsibilities as outlined in subdivision (b), subject to final approval by the supreme court. These procedures shall include:
(1) a method for ensuring input from interested constituencies, including the chief judges, marshals, and clerks of the district courts, other members of the district court judiciary, the Judicial Management Council, the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability, and other judicial branch committees and commissions; and
(2) a method for appeal of the decisions of the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission. Appeals may be made only by a chief judge on behalf of the district. Appeals may be heard only by the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission unless the appeal is based on the failure of the commission to adhere to its operating procedures, in which case the appeal may be made to the supreme court.

(d) Action by Supreme Court or Chief Justice on Recommendations of District Court of Appeal Budget Commission. The supreme court or chief justice, as appropriate, may take any or all of the following actions on recommendations made by the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission:
(1) The adoption of the recommendations of the commission made in accordance with the discharge of its responsibilities listed in subdivision (b) in whole.
(2) The adoption of the recommendations in part and referral of specific issues or questions back to the commission for further study or alternative recommendations.

(e) Membership and Organization. The District Court of Appeal Budget Commission will be composed of 10 voting members appointed by the chief justice who will represent the interests of the district courts generally rather than the individual interests of a particular district.
(1) The membership shall include the chief judge of each district court of appeal, who shall serve for his or her term as chief judge. The membership shall also include one additional judge from each district court of appeal, appointed by the chief justice, with advice from each chief judge. The marshal of each district court of appeal shall serve as a nonvoting member. Ex officio nonvoting members shall also include the chairs of the District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability Commission and the Appellate Court Technology Committee, and the president of the District Court of Appeal Judges Conference.
(2) The chief justice will appoint 1 member to serve as chair and 1 member to serve as vice chair, each for a four-year term, or until the member’s term on the commission expires.
(3) The commission may establish subcommittees as necessary to satisfactorily carry out its responsibilities. Subcommittees may make recommendations only to the commission as a whole. The chair of the commission may appoint a non-commission member to serve on a subcommittee.
(4) Effective July 1, 2013, the commission shall be reconstituted with staggered terms for voting members, as follows: (A) The chief judge of each district will be appointed for his or her term as chief judge. (B) The additional judge from each odd-numbered district will be appointed for a four-year term. (C) The additional judge from each even-numbered district will be appointed for a two-year term, and thereafter to four-year terms. (D) Each nonvoting member will serve so long as he or she continues to hold the office which entitles him or her to membership on the commission.

(f) Staff Support and Funding. The Office of the State Courts Administrator will provide primary staff support to the commission. Adequate staffing and resources will be made available to the Office of the State Courts Administrator to ensure the commission is able to fulfill its responsibilities as outlined in this rule. Sufficient resources will also be provided for the commission and its subcommittees to meet and otherwise complete its work.

RULE 2.236 | FLORIDA COURTS TECHNOLOGY COMMISSION

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to establish a Florida Courts Technology Commission with responsibility for overseeing, managing, and directing the development and use of technology within the judicial branch under the direction of the supreme court as specified in this rule. For the purpose of this rule, the term “judicial branch” does not include The Florida Bar, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, or the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

(b) Responsibilities. The Florida Courts Technology Commission is charged with specific responsibility to:
(1) make recommendations to the supreme court on all matters of technology policy impacting the judicial branch to allow the supreme court to establish technology policy in the branch;
(2) make recommendations to the supreme court regarding policies for public access to electronic court records;
(3) make recommendations to the supreme court about the relative priorities of various technology projects within the judicial branch so that the supreme court can establish priorities. The commission should coordinate with the Trial Court Budget Commission and District Court of Appeal Budget Commission to secure funds for allocation of those priorities;
(4) direct and establish priorities for the work of all technology committees in the judicial branch, including the Appellate Court Technology Committee, and review and approve recommendations made by any court committee concerning technology matters or otherwise implicating court technology policy.
(5) establish, periodically review, and update technical standards for technology used and to be used in the judicial branch to receive, manage, maintain, use, secure, and distribute court records by electronic means, consistent with the technology policies established by the supreme court. These standards shall be coordinated with the strategic plans of the judicial branch, rules of procedure, applicable law, and directions from the supreme court, and shall incorporate input from the public, clerks of court, supreme court committees and commissions, and other groups involved in the application of current technology to the judicial branch;
(6) create procedures whereby courts and clerks and other applicable entities can apply for approval of new systems, or modifications to existing systems, that involve the application of technology to the receipt, management, maintenance, use, securing, and distribution of court records within the judicial branch, and between the public and the judicial branch;
(7) evaluate all such applications to determine whether they comply with the technology policies established by the supreme court and the procedures and standards created pursuant to this rule, and approve those applications deemed to be effective and found to be in compliance;
(8) develop and maintain security policies that must be utilized to ensure the integrity and availability of court technology systems and related data;
(9) ensure principles of accessibility are met for all court technology projects, with consideration and application of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and any other applicable state or federal disability laws;
(10) ensure that the technology utilized in the judicial branch is capable of required integration;
(11) periodically review and evaluate all approved technology in the judicial branch to determine its adherence to current supreme court technology policies and standards;
(12) review annual and periodic reports on the status of court technology systems and proposals for technology improvements and innovation throughout the judicial branch;
(13) recommend statutory and rule changes or additions relating to court technology and the receipt, maintenance, management, use, securing, and distribution of court records by electronic means;
(14) identify technology issues that require attention in the judicial branch upon:
(A) referral from the chief justice;
(B) referral from the supreme court; or
(C) identification by the Florida Courts Technology Commission on its own initiative based on recommendations of the public, commission members, judges, justice system partners, The Florida Bar, clerks of court, the Florida Legislature (either informally or through the passage of legislation), the Governor, the cabinet, or executive branch agencies; and

(15) coordinate proposed amendments to rules of court procedure and judicial administration necessary to effectuate the commission’s charge with appropriate Florida Bar rules committees. If a program, system, or application is found not to comply with the policies established by the supreme court or the standards and procedures established by the commission, the commission may require that it be terminated or modified or subject to such conditions as the commission deems appropriate.

(c) Operational Procedures. The Florida Courts Technology Commission shall establish operating procedures necessary to carry out its responsibilities as outlined in subdivision (b), subject to final approval by the supreme court. These procedures shall include:
(1) a method for ensuring input from all interested constituencies in the state of Florida;
(2) a method for monitoring the development of new court technology projects, reviewing reports on new technology projects, and reviewing the annual reports;
(3) a method whereby courts and clerks and other applicable entities can apply for approval of new technology systems or applications, or modifications to existing systems or applications, that affect the receipt, management, maintenance, use, securing, and distribution of court records;
(4) a system to evaluate all applications for new or modified technology systems to determine whether they comply with the policies and technical standards established by the supreme court and the procedures created pursuant to this rule, and are otherwise appropriate to implement in the judicial branch;
(5) a process for making decisions on all applications for new or modified technology systems and communicating those decisions to interested parties. If an application is found to comply with technology policies and standards, the commission may approve the application and its written approval shall authorize the applicant to proceed. For all applications that are not approved, the commission shall assist the applicant in remedying any deficiencies that the commission identifies;
(6) a method to monitor all technology programs, systems, and applications used in the judicial branch to ensure that such programs, systems, and applications are operating in accordance with the technology policies established by the supreme court and technical standards established by the commission. The commission may ask any operator of a program, system, or application to appear before it for examination into whether the program, system, or application complies with technology policies and standards;
(7) a process to conduct the limited, short-term work of the commission through work groups that it may constitute from time to time. Work groups may make recommendations to the commission as a whole. The chair of the commission may appoint non-commission members to serve on any work group; and
(8) a process to conduct substantial work of the commission requiring long-term commitment through subcommittees. Subcommittees may make recommendations to the commission as a whole. The chair of the commission may appoint non-commission members to serve on any subcommittee.

(d) Action by Supreme Court or Chief Justice on Recommendations of or Decisions by Florida Courts Technology Commission. The supreme court or chief justice, as appropriate, may take any of the following actions on recommendations or decisions made by the Florida Courts Technology Commission:
(1) Adopt the recommendation or decision of the commission in whole or in part, with or without conditions.
(2) Refer specific issues or questions back to the commission for further study or alternative recommendations.
(3) Reject the recommendation or decision in whole or in part.
(4) Take alternative action.

(e) Membership and Organization.
(1) The Florida Courts Technology Commission shall be composed of 25 voting members appointed by the chief justice after consultation with the court. All members shall represent the interests of the public and of Florida courts generally rather than the separate interests of any particular district, circuit, county, division, or other organization. The membership shall include members who have experience in different divisions of courts, in court operations, and in using technology in court for case processing, management, and administrative purposes, and shall provide geographic, racial, ethnic, gender, and other diversity.
(2) The membership shall include 2 district court judges, 5 circuit court judges (1 of whom must be a chief judge), 2 county court judges, 3 court administrators, 3 court technology officers, 4 clerks of court (1 of whom must be a clerk of an appellate court), 4 members of The Florida Bar (1 of whom must be a member of the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar), and 2 members of the public at large.
(3) The members of the commission who are judicial officers, court technology officers, and court administrators must constitute a majority of the commission and must constitute a majority of any quorum at all meetings of the commission.
(4) A supreme court justice shall be appointed by the chief justice to serve as supreme court liaison to the commission.
(5) Each member will be initially appointed for a 1-, 2-, or 3-year term, with the terms staggered to ensure continuity and experience on the commission and for three year terms thereafter. Retention and reappointment of each member will be at the discretion of the chief justice.
(6) The chief justice shall appoint 1 member to serve as chair for a two-year term.

(f) Schedule of Reports. The Florida Courts Technology Commission shall prepare an annual report of its activities, which shall include its recommendations for changes or additions to the technology policies or standards of Florida courts, its recommendations for setting or changing priorities among the programs within the responsibility of the commission to assist with budget resources available, its recommendations for changes to rules, statutes, or regulations that affect technology in Florida courts and the work of the commission. The report also shall include recommendations of the Appellate Court Technology Committee that implicate court technology policy and the action taken on those recommendations by the commission. This report shall be submitted to the supreme court on April 1 of each year.

(g) Appellate Court Technology Committee.
(1) Purpose. The purpose of this subdivision is to establish the Appellate Court Technology Committee as a standing committee of the Florida Courts Technology Commission responsible for providing technical guidance and consultation to the commission regarding information systems development and operational policies and procedures relating to automation in the district courts of appeal.
(2) Responsibilities. (A) coordinate with and provide advice to the Florida Courts Technology Commission regarding the development of standards and policies for implementing new technologies, system security, public access to district court information, and system support;
(B) develop, recommend, and implement policy and procedures consistent with the overall policy of the supreme court relating to technology issues affecting the district courts of appeal;
(C) recommend and coordinate the purchase and upgrade of hardware and software in relation to the district courts’ office automation systems and networks;
(D) oversee and direct expenditures of designated state court system trust funds for technology needs in the district courts;
(E) promote orientation and education programs on technology and its effective utilization in the district court environment;
(F) ensure principles of accessibility are met for all court technology projects, with consideration and application of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and any other applicable state or federal disability laws;
(G) propose amendments to rules of court procedure and judicial administration necessary to effectuate the committee’s charge, after coordination with appropriate Florida Bar rules committees; and
(H) identify budget issues and funding sources and coordinate with the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission on recommendations requiring additional funding or resources for implementation in the district courts of appeal.

(3) Membership and Terms.
(A) The chief justice will select the chair of the committee from among the judges of the district courts, with input from the chief judges.
(B) The chief judges of the remaining district courts will designate a representative from each of their courts to serve as member of the committee.
(C) The chair and members will serve 3-year terms. Retention and reappointment of the chair will be at the discretion of the chief justice. Retention and reappointment of the representative from each district court will be at the discretion of the district court chief judge.

(4) Commission Approval and Reporting of Policy Recommendations. Committee recommendations that implicate court technology policy must be reviewed and approved by the commission. The commission will report the committee’s policy recommendations and the action taken on them by the commission to the supreme court. The committee may submit to the court a companion report on its recommendations, supporting or opposing the action taken by the commission.

(h) Staff Support and Funding.The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall provide primary staff support to the Florida Courts Technology Commission and the Appellate Court Technology Committee. Adequate staffing and resources shall be made available by the Office of the State Courts Administrator to ensure that the commission and committee are able to fulfill their responsibilities under this rule.

RULE 2.240 | DETERMINATION OF NEED FOR ADDITIONAL JUDGES

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to set forth uniform criteria used by the supreme court in determining the need for additional judges, except supreme court justices, and the necessity for decreasing the number of judges, pursuant to article V, section 9, Florida Constitution. These criteria form the primary basis for the supreme court’s determination of need for additional judges. Unforeseen developments, however, may have an impact upon the judiciary resulting in needs which cannot be foreseen or predicted by statistical projections. The supreme court, therefore, may also consider any additional information found by it to be relevant to the process. In establishing criteria for the need for additional appellate court judges, substantial reliance has been placed on the findings and recommendations of the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability. See In re Report of the Comm’n on Dist. Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability—Rule of Judicial Admin. 2.035, 933 So. 2d 1136 (Fla. 2006).

(b) Criteria.
(1)Trial Courts.
(A) Assessment of judicial need at the trial court level is based primarily upon the application of case weights to circuit and county court caseload statistics supplied to the Office of the State Courts Administrator by the clerks of the circuit courts, pursuant to rule 2.245, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. Such case weights provide a quantified measure of judicial time spent on case-related activity, translating judicial caseloads into judicial workload by factoring in the relative complexity by case type in the following manner:
(i) The circuit court case weights are applied to forecasted case filings, which include circuit criminal (includes felony, drug court, and worthless check cases), circuit civil (includes matters involving claims of $15,000.01 and above), family (includes domestic relations, juvenile dependency, and juvenile delinquency cases), and probate (includes guardianship, mental health, and trust cases).
(ii) The county court case weights are applied to forecasted filings, which include county criminal (includes misdemeanor, violations of county and municipal ordinance, worthless check, driving under the influence, and other criminal traffic cases), and county civil (includes small claims, matters involving claims ranging from $5,000.01 to $15,000, landlord-tenant, and civil traffic infraction cases).

(B) Other factors may be utilized in the determination of the need for one or more additional judges. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
(i) The availability and use of county court judges in circuit court.
(ii) The availability and use of senior judges to serve on a particular court.
(iii) The availability and use of magistrates and hearing officers.
(iv) The extent of use of alternative dispute resolution.
(v) The number of jury trials.
(vi) Foreign language interpretations.
(vii) The geographic size of a circuit, including travel times between courthouses in a particular jurisdiction.
(viii) Law enforcement activities in the court’s jurisdiction, including any substantial commitment of additional resources for state attorneys, public defenders, and local law enforcement.
(ix) The availability and use of case-related support staff and case management policies and practices.
(x) Caseload trends.

(C) The Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability shall review the trial court workload trends and case weights and consider adjustments no less than every five years.
(2) District Courts of Appeal.
(A) The criteria for determining the need to certify the need for increasing or decreasing the number of judges on a district court of appeal shall include the following factors:
(i) workload factors to be considered include: trends in case filings; trends in changes in case mix; trends in the backlog of cases ready for assignment and disposition; trends in the relative weight of cases disposed on the merits per judge; and changes in statutes, rules of court, and case law that directly or indirectly impact judicial workload. (ii) efficiency factors to be considered include: a court’s ability to stay current with its caseload, as indicated by measurements such as trend in clearance rate; trends in a court’s percentage of cases disposed within the time standards set forth in the Rules of Judicial Administration and explanation/justification for cases not resolved within the time standards; and a court’s utilization of resources, case management techniques and technologies to maximize the efficient adjudication of cases, research of legal issues, and preparation and distribution of decisions. (iii) effectiveness factors to be considered include the extent to which each judge has adequate time to: thoroughly research legal issues, review briefs and memoranda of law, participate in court conferences on pending cases, hear and dispose of motions, and prepare correspondence, orders, judgments and opinions; expedite appropriate cases; prepare written opinions when warranted; develop, clarify, and maintain consistency in the law within that district; review all decisions rendered by the court; perform administrative duties relating to the court; and participate in the administration of the justice system through work in statewide committees. (iv) professionalism factors to be considered include: the extent to which judges report that they have time to participate, including teaching, in education programs designed to increase the competency and efficiency of the judiciary and justice system as well as the competency of lawyers; provide guidance and instruction for the professional development of court support staff; and participate in appropriate activities of the legal profession at both the state and local levels to improve the relationship between the bench and bar, to enhance lawyer professionalism, and to improve the administration of justice.

(B) The court will presume that there is a need for an additional appellate court judgeship in any district for which a request is made and where the relative weight of cases disposed on the merits per judge would have exceeded the weighted case disposition threshold after application of the proposed additional judge(s).
(i) The relative weight of cases disposed on the merits shall be determined based upon case disposition statistics supplied to the state courts administrator by the clerks of the district courts of appeal, multiplied by the relative case weights established pursuant to subdivision (b)(2)(B)(ii), and divided by 100. (ii) The Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability shall review the workload trends of the district courts of appeal and consider adjustments in the relative case weights and the weighted case disposition threshold every four years. Any such recommended adjustment shall be subject to the approval of the supreme court.


(c) Additional Trial Court Workload Factors. Because summary statistics reflective of the above criteria do not fully measure judicial workload, the supreme court will receive and consider, among other things, information about the time to perform and volume of the following activities, which also comprise the judicial workload of a particular jurisdiction:
(1) review appellate court decisions;
(2) research legal issues;
(3) review briefs and memoranda of law;
(4) participate in court conferences on pending cases;
(5) hear and dispose of motions;
(6) prepare correspondence, orders, judgments, and decisional opinions;
(7) review presentence investigative reports and predispositional reports in delinquency and dependency cases;
(8) review petitions and motions for post-conviction relief;
(9) perform administrative duties relating to the court;
(10) participate in meetings with those involved in the justice system; and
(11) participate in educational programs designed to increase the competency and efficiency of the judiciary.

(d) Certification Process. The process by which certification of the need to increase or decrease the number of judges shall include:
(1) The state courts administrator will distribute a compilation of summary statistics and projections to each chief judge at a time designated by the chief justice.
(2) Each chief judge shall submit to the chief justice a request for any increase or decrease in the number of judges in accordance with the following:
(A) Trial Courts. Each chief judge will then consider these criteria, additional workload factors, and summary statistics, and submit to the chief justice a request for any increases or decreases under article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution that the chief judge feels are required.
(B) District Courts. Each chief judge will then consider the criteria of this rule and the summary statistics; if a new judge is requested, the chief judge shall prepare a report showing the need for a new judge based upon the application of the criteria in this rule.
(i) Any request for a new district court judge shall be submitted to the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission for review and approval.
(ii) The chief judge of a district court of appeal shall submit the report showing the need together with the approval of the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission to the chief justice.


(3) The chief justice and the state courts administrator may then confer with the chief judge and other representatives of the court submitting the request as well as representatives of The Florida Bar and the public to gather additional information and clarification about the need in the particular jurisdiction.
(4) The chief justice will submit recommendations to the supreme court, which will thereafter certify to the legislature its findings and recommendations concerning such need.
(5) The supreme court, in conjunction with the certification process under this rule, shall also consider the necessity for increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts and judicial circuits as required by article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution and as set forth in Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.241.

Court Commentary

1983 Adoption. Article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution authorizes the establishment, by rule, of uniform criteria for the determination of the need for additional judges, except supreme court justices, the necessity for decreasing the number of judges and for increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts and judicial circuits. Each year since the adoption of article V in 1972, this court, pursuant to section 9, has certified its determination of need to the legislature based upon factors and criteria set forth in our certification decisions. This rule is intended to set forth criteria and workload factors previously developed, adopted, and used in this certification process, as summarized and specifically set forth in In re Certificate of Judicial Manpower, 428 So. 2d 229 (Fla. 1983); In re Certificate of Judicial Manpower, 396 So. 2d 172 (Fla. 1981); and In re Certification, 370 So. 2d 365 (Fla. 1979).
2004 Amendment. Subdivision (b)(2) was amended to provide more specific criteria and workload factors to be used in determining the need for increasing or decreasing the number of judges on the District Courts of Appeal. In addition, the caseload level at which the court will presume that there is a need for an additional appellate judge has been increased from 250 to 350 filings per judge.
2006 Amendment. Subdivision (a) is amended to be consistent with the 2006 adoption of rule 2.036 [renumbered as 2.241 in 2006] relating to the criteria for determining the necessity and for increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts and judicial circuits, pursuant to article V, section 9, Florida Constitution. The Court adopts the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability’s conclusion that a single case filing threshold is insufficient to capture the intricacies that make up judicial workload in the district courts. The Commission’s alternative to the 350-filings-per-judge threshold is a weighted case dispositions per judge, which the Commission determined to be a meaningful measure of judicial workload.
The relative weighted caseload is determined by surveying a representative sample of judges on the relative degree of judicial effort put into each category of cases based upon an agreed typical case having a value of 100. Each category was assigned a relative weight number based upon the statewide average of the weight calculated through the survey. These weights were then applied to each court’s dispositions on the merits to determine the weighted caseload value and divided by 100.
This approach accommodates the important distinction between the number of cases filed and the judicial effort required to dispose of those cases. While the number of cases continues to increase, trends in the types of cases filed have dramatically changed the nature of the work that the district court judges handle. The weighted caseload approach not only accommodates the differences in types of cases by measuring their relative workload demands for judges, but it also accommodates the work performed by legal support staff.
Subdivision (b)(2)(B) establishes a presumption that the relative weight of cases disposed on the merits should fall below 280 per judge. Chief judges must consider the impact that the addition of a judge would have on this measure when applied to their courts’ dispositions on the merits for the previous year.
Every four years the Commission will measure the relative judicial effort associated with the cases disposed on the merits for the year immediately preceding. This will be accomplished by asking a representative sample of judges to approximate the relative weight of cases in relation to a mid-ranked case. The resulting weights will then be applied to each court’s dispositions on the merits to determine the weighted caseload value per judge.
2013 Amendment. Subdivision (d)(5) was added to ensure the certification process under rule 2.240(d) is conducted in conjunction with the related process for determinations regarding increases, decreases, or redefinition of appellate districts and judicial circuits under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.241.

RULE 2.241 | DETERMINATION OF THE NECESSITY TO INCREASE, DECREASE, OR REDEFINE JUDICIAL CIRCUITS AND APPELLATE DISTRICTS

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to establish uniform criteria for the supreme court’s determination of the necessity for increasing, decreasing, or redefining judicial circuits and appellate districts as required by article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution. This rule also provides for an assessment committee and a certification process to assist the court in certifying to the legislature its findings and recommendations concerning such need.

(b) Certification Process. A certification process shall be completed in conjunction with the supreme court’s annual determination regarding the need for judges under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.240(d) and in accordance with the following:
(1) The supreme court shall certify a necessity to increase, decrease, or redefine judicial circuits and appellate districts when it determines that the judicial process is adversely affected by circumstances that present a compelling need for the certified change.
(2) The supreme court may certify a necessity to increase, decrease, or redefine judicial circuits and appellate districts when it determines that the judicial process would be improved significantly by the certified change.
(3) The state courts administrator will distribute a compilation of summary statistics and projections to each chief judge at a time designated by the chief justice.
(4) Each chief judge shall consider criteria as may apply under rules 2.241(c) and 2.241(d), as well as any other relevant factors, and shall inform the chief justice of any perceived need to increase, decrease, or redefine the state’s judicial circuits or appellate districts.
(5) Having been advised in these matters by the chief justice and taking into consideration other relevant factors, the supreme court, finding cause for further inquiry, may appoint an assessment committee to consider the capacity of the courts to effectively fulfill their constitutional and statutory responsibilities as well as any attendant need to increase, decrease, or redefine appellate districts and judicial circuits.
(6) If an assessment committee is appointed, the committee shall confer with the chief judges and other representatives of appellate districts and judicial circuits, district court of appeal and/or trial court budget commissions, The Florida Bar, and the public for purposes of gathering additional information regarding matters within its charge and shall submit written recommendations to the supreme court.
(7) The supreme court shall consider the assessment committee’s recommendations within a timeframe it deems appropriate.
(8) Whether or not an assessment committee is appointed, the supreme court shall balance the potential impact and disruption caused by changes in judicial circuits and appellate districts against the need to address circumstances that limit the quality and efficiency of, and public confidence in, the judicial process. Given the impact and disruption that can arise from any alteration in judicial structure, prior to recommending a change in judicial circuits or appellate districts, the supreme court shall consider less disruptive adjustments including, but not limited to, the addition of judges, the creation of branch locations, geographic or subject-matter divisions within judicial circuits or appellate districts, deployment of new technologies, and increased ratios of support staff per judge.

(c) Criteria for Judicial Circuits. The following criteria shall be considered when determining the necessity for increasing, decreasing, or redefining judicial circuits as required by article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution:
(1) Effectiveness. Factors to be considered for this criterion include the extent to which each court:
(A) expedites appropriate cases;
(B) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges to prepare written decisions when warranted;
(C) is capable of accommodating changes in statutes or case law impacting workload or court operations; and
(D) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges to serve on committees for the judicial system.

(2) Efficiency. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) stays current with its caseload, as indicated by measurements such as the clearance rate;
(B) adjudicates a high percentage of its cases within the time standards set forth in the Rules of Judicial Administration and has adequate procedures to ensure efficient, timely disposition of its cases; and
(C) uses its resources, case management techniques, and technologies to improve the efficient adjudication of cases, research of legal issues, and issuance of decisions.

(3) Access to Courts. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which:
(A) litigants, including self-represented litigants, have meaningful access consistent with due process; and
(B) decisions of a court are available in a timely and efficient manner.

(4) Professionalism. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) handles workload issues in a manner permitting its judges adequate time and resources to participate in continuing judicial education and to stay abreast of the law in order to maintain a qualified judiciary;
(B) is capable of recruiting and retaining qualified staff; and
(C) affords staff adequate time to participate in continuing education and specialized training.

(5) Public Trust and Confidence. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) handles workload in a manner permitting its judges adequate time for community involvement;
(B) affords access to open court and other public proceedings for the general public;
(C) fosters public trust and confidence given its geography and demographic composition; and
(D) attracts a diverse group of well-qualified applicants for judicial vacancies, including applicants from all counties within the circuit.

(6) Additional criteria. Such other factors as are regularly considered when making a determination with respect to the need for additional judges under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.240(b)(1) and (c).

(d) Criteria for District Courts. The following criteria shall be considered when determining the necessity for increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts as required by article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution:
(1) Effectiveness. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) expedites appropriate cases;
(B) handles workload in a manner permitting its judges to prepare written opinions when warranted;
(C) functions in a collegial manner;
(D) handles workload in a manner permitting its judges to develop, clarify, and maintain consistency in the law within that district, including consistency between written opinions and per curiam affirmances without written opinions;
(E) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges to harmonize decisions of their court with those of other district courts or to certify conflict when appropriate;
(F) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges to have adequate time to review all decisions rendered by the court;
(G) is capable of accommodating changes in statutes or case law impacting workload or court operations; and
(H) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges to serve on committees for the judicial system.

(2) Efficiency. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) stays current with its caseload, as indicated by measurements such as the clearance rate;
(B) adjudicates a high percentage of its cases within the time standards set forth in the Rules of Judicial Administration and has adequate procedures to ensure efficient, timely disposition of its cases; and
(C) uses its resources, case management techniques, and other technologies to improve the efficient adjudication of cases, research of legal issues, and preparation and distribution of decisions.

(3) Access to Appellate Review. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which: (A) litigants, including self-represented litigants, have meaningful access to a district court for mandatory and discretionary review of cases, consistent with due process;
(B) litigants are afforded efficient access to the court for the filing of pleadings and for oral argument when appropriate; and
(C) orders and opinions of a court are available in a timely and efficient manner.

(4) Professionalism. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges adequate time and resources to participate in continuing judicial education opportunities and to stay abreast of the law in order to maintain a qualified judiciary;
(B) is capable of recruiting and retaining qualified staff; and
(C) affords staff adequate time to participate in continuing education and specialized training.

(5) Public Trust and Confidence. Factors to be considered for this criterion are the extent to which each court:
(A) handles its workload in a manner permitting its judges adequate time for community involvement;
(B) provides adequate access to oral arguments and other public proceedings for the general public within its district;
(C) fosters public trust and confidence given its geography and demographic composition; and
(D) attracts diverse group of well-qualified applicants for judicial vacancies, including applicants from all circuits within the district.


(e) Results of determination. Only upon the supreme court’s finding that a need exists for increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts and judicial circuits, shall the court, acting prior to the next regular session of the legislature, certify to the legislature its findings and recommendations concerning such need.

Committee Notes

District Court of Appeal Workload and Jurisdiction Committee Notes 2006 Adoption. Article V, section 9 of the Florida constitution states that:
The supreme court shall establish by rule uniform criteria for the determination of the need for additional judges except supreme court justices, the necessity for decreasing the number of judges and for increasing, decreasing or redefining appellate districts. If the supreme court finds that a need exists for . . . increasing, decreasing or redefining appellate districts . . . , it shall, prior to the next regular session of the legislature, certify to the legislature its findings and recommendations concerning such need.
(Emphasis added.) Thus, the constitution uses only “need” when describing the uniform criteria for certifying additional judges, but uses both “necessity” and “need” when describing the uniform criteria for increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts. The supreme court has never determined whether this language compels differing tests for the two certifications. Subdivision (c) of this rule uses the phrase “certify a necessity.” The Committee on District Court of Appeal Workload and Jurisdiction determined that the two standards set forth in that subdivision recognize the supreme court’s obligation to recommend a change to the structure of the district courts when circumstances reach the level of necessity that compels a change, but also recognize the court’s discretion to recommend a change to the structure of the district courts when improvements are needed.
The criteria set forth in this rule are based on studies of the workload, jurisdiction, and performance of the appellate courts, and the work of the Committee on District Court of Appeal Workload and Jurisdiction in 2005. In establishing these criteria, substantial reliance was placed on empirical research conducted by judicial branch committees and on other statistical data concerning cases, caseloads, timeliness of case processing, and manner for disposition of cases, collected by the Office of the State Courts Administrator Office as required by section 25.075, Florida Statutes (2004), and Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.030(e)(2).
The workload and jurisdiction committee considered the impact of computer technology on appellate districts. It is clear that, at this time or in the future, technology can be deployed to allow litigants efficient access to a court for filing of pleadings and for participation in oral argument, and that it can expand the general public’s access to the courts. It is possible that technology will substantially alter the appellate review process in the future and that appellate courts may find that technology permits or even requires different districting techniques. This rule was designed to allow these issues to be addressed by the assessment committee and the supreme court without mandating any specific approach.
The five basic criteria in subdivision (d) are not listed in any order of priority. Thus, for example, the workload and jurisdiction committee did not intend efficiency to be a more important criterion than engendering public trust and confidence.
Subdivision (d)(2)(A) recognizes that the court currently provides the legislature with an annual measurement of the appellate courts’ “clearance rate,” which is the ratio between the number of cases that are resolved during a fiscal year and the new cases that are filed during the same period. Thus, a clearance rate of one hundred percent reflects a court that is disposing of pending cases at approximately the same rate that new cases arrive. Given that other measurements may be selected in the future, the rule does not mandate sole reliance on this measurement.
Subdivision (d)(5)(E) recognizes that a district court’s geographic territory may be so large that it limits or discourages applicants for judicial vacancies from throughout the district and creates the perception that a court’s judges do not reflect the makeup of the territory.

Court Commentary

2013 Amendment.The rule has been amended so the supreme court’s annual certification process will include an analysis of the need to increase, decrease, or redefine judicial circuits. The requirement for an assessment committee to analyze, once every eight years, the capacity of the district courts to fulfill their duties has been deleted. Instead, the chief judges of the trial and appellate courts will review annual statistics provided by the state courts administrator, along with the criteria set forth in the rule and any other relevant factors, and inform the chief justice of any perceived need. Taking these and other concerns into consideration, the supreme court may appoint an assessment committee to make further inquiry. If an assessment committee is appointed, the supreme court will consider the committee’s recommendations and will certify to the legislature its own findings and recommendations concerning such need.

RULE 2.244 | JUDICIAL COMPENSATION

(a) Statement of Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to set forth the official policy of the judicial branch of state government concerning the appropriate salary relationships between justices and judges at the various levels of the state courts system and the mechanism for advancing judicial compensation and benefits issues. Although ultimate discretion in establishing judicial compensation is vested in the Florida Legislature, the salary relationships referenced in this rule reflect the policy of the judicial branch when requesting adjustments to judicial salaries.

(b) Annual Salaries. The annual salary of a district court of appeal judge should be equal to 95 percent of the annual salary of a supreme court justice. The annual salary of a circuit court judge should be equal to 90 percent of the annual salary of a supreme court justice. The annual salary of a county court judge should be equal to 85 percent of the annual salary of a supreme court justice.

(c) Unified Committee on Judicial Compensation.
(1) Creation. There shall be created a Unified Committee on Judicial Compensation to address judicial pay and benefits issues.
(2) Purpose. The purpose of the Unified Committee on Judicial Compensation shall be to:
(A) develop and recommend to the supreme court judicial pay and benefits priorities; and
(B) advocate for judicial pay and benefits issues approved by the supreme court for inclusion in the annual judicial branch budget request.

(3) Membership. The membership shall include the chief justice of the supreme court, the presidents and presidents-elect of the Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges, the Conference of Circuit Court Judges, and the Conference of County Court Judges, and the chairs and vice-chairs of the District Court Budget Commission and the Trail Court Budget Commission.
(4) Staffing. The Office of the State Courts Administrator will provide primary staff support to the committee.

RULE 2.245 | CASE REPORTING SYSTEM FOR TRIAL COURTS

(a) Reporting.The clerk of the circuit court shall report the activity of all cases before all courts within the clerk’s jurisdiction to the supreme court in the manner and on the forms established by the office of the state courts administrator and approved by order of the court. In those jurisdictions where separate offices of the clerk of the circuit court and clerk of the county court have been established by law, the clerk of the circuit court shall report the activity of all cases before the circuit court, and the clerk of the county court shall report the activity of all cases before the county court.

(b) Uniform Case Numbering System.
(1) The clerk of the circuit court and the clerk of the county court, where that separate office exists, shall use the Uniform Case Numbering System. The uniform case number shall appear upon the case file, the docket and minute books (or their electronic equivalent), and the complaint.
(2) The office of the state courts administrator shall distribute to the respective clerks of the circuit and county courts appropriate instructions regarding the nature and use of the Uniform Case Numbering System.

RULE 2.250 | TIME STANDARDS FOR TRIAL AND APPELLATE COURTS AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

(a) Time Standards. The following time standards are hereby established as a presumptively reasonable time period for the completion of cases in the trial and appellate courts of this state. It is recognized that there are cases that, because of their complexity, present problems that cause reasonable delays. However, most cases should be completed within the following time periods:
(1) Trial Court Time Standards.
(A) Criminal.
Felony — 180 days (arrest to final disposition)
Misdemeanor — 90 days (arrest to final disposition)
(B) Civil.
Jury cases — 18 months (filing to final disposition)
Non-jury cases — 12 months (filing to final disposition)
Small claims — 95 days (filing to final disposition)
(C) Domestic Relations.
Uncontested — 90 days (filing to final disposition)
Contested — 180 days (filing to final disposition)
(D) Probate.
Uncontested, no federal estate tax return — 12 months (from issuance of letters of administration to final discharge)
Uncontested, with federal estate tax return — 12 months (from the return’s due date to final discharge)
Contested — 24 months (from filing to final discharge)
(E) Juvenile Delinquency.
Disposition hearing — 120 days (filing of petition or child being taken into custody to hearing)
Disposition hearing (child detained) — 36 days (date of detention to hearing)
(F) Juvenile Dependency.
Disposition hearing (child sheltered) — 88 days (shelter hearing to disposition)
Disposition hearing (child not sheltered) — 120 days (filing of petition for dependency to hearing)
(G) Permanency Proceedings.
Permanency hearing — 12 months (date child is sheltered to hearing)

(2) Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal Time Standards: Rendering a decision — within 180 days of either oral argument or the submission of the case to the court panel for a decision without oral argument, except in juvenile dependency or termination of parental rights cases, in which a decision should be rendered within 60 days of either oral argument or submission of the case to the court panel for a decision without oral argument.
(3) Florida Bar Referee Time Standards: Report of referee — within 180 days of being assigned to hear the case
(4) Circuit Court Acting as Appellate Court:
Ninety days from submission of the case to the judge for review

(b) Reporting of Cases. The time standards require that the following monitoring procedures be implemented:

All pending cases in circuit and district courts of appeal exceeding the time standards shall be listed separately on a report submitted quarterly to the chief justice. The report shall include for each case listed the case number, type of case, case status (active or inactive for civil cases and contested or uncontested for domestic relations and probate cases), the date of arrest in criminal cases, and the original filing date in civil cases. The Office of the State Courts Administrator will provide the necessary forms for submission of this data. The report will be due on the 15th day of the month following the last day of the quarter.

RULE 2.255 | STATEWIDE GRAND JURY

(a) Procedure. The chief judge of each judicial circuit shall cause a list of those persons whose names have been drawn and certified for jury duty in each of the counties within that circuit to be compiled. The lists shall be taken from the male and female population over the age of 18 years and having the other constitutional and statutory qualifications for jury duty in this state not later than the last day of the first week of December of each year. From the lists so compiled, the chief judge shall cause to be selected, by lot and at random, and by any authorized method including mechanical, electronic, or electrical device, a list of prospective grand jurors from each county whose number shall be determined on the basis of 3 jurors for each 3,000 residents or a fraction thereof in each county. The lists from which the names are drawn may be, but are not required to be, the same lists from which petit and grand juries are drawn in each county and circuit.

After compilation, the statewide grand jury lists shall be submitted to the state courts administrator not later than February 15 of each year.

(b) Population. For the purposes of this rule, the population of each county shall be in accordance with the latest United States Decennial Census as set forth in the Florida Statutes.

(c) Excuses.
(1) The judge appointed to preside over the statewide grand jury may issue an order appointing the chief judge of the judicial circuit where a prospective grand juror resides to determine whether service on the statewide grand jury will result in an unreasonable personal or financial hardship because of the location or projected length of the grand jury investigation.
(2) The chief judge of the circuit shall determine whether a prospective grand juror fails to meet the qualifications of a juror in the county where the person resides. The determination shall be made only for those prospective grand jurors who contact the chief judge and request disqualification.
(3) The chief judge of the circuit shall excuse any prospective grand juror who requests and is qualified for exemption from grand jury service pursuant to general law, or from service as a juror in the county where the person resides. The chief judge shall inform the judge appointed to preside over the statewide grand jury without delay of any determination.

RULE 2.256 | JUROR TIME MANAGEMENT

(a) Optimum Use.The services of prospective jurors should be employed so as to achieve optimum use with a minimum of inconvenience to jurors.

(b) Minimum Number.A minimally sufficient number of jurors needed to accommodate trial activity should be determined. This information and appropriate management techniques should be used to adjust both the number of individuals summoned for jury duty and the number assigned to jury panels, consistent with any administrative orders issued by the Chief Justice.

(c) Courtroom Assignment.Each prospective juror who has reported to the courthouse should be assigned a courtroom for voir dire before any prospective juror is assigned a second time.

(d) Calendar Coordination.Jury management and calendar management should be coordinated to make effective use of jurors.

RULE 2.260 | CHANGE OF VENUE

(a) Preliminary Procedures. Prior to entering an order to change venue to a particular circuit in a criminal case or in any other case in which change of venue will likely create an unusual burden for the transferee circuit, the chief judge in the circuit in which the case originated shall contact the chief judge in the circuit to which the case is intended to be moved to determine the receiving county’s ability to accommodate the change of venue. It is the intent of this rule that the county identified to receive the case shall do so unless the physical facilities or other resources in that county are such that moving the case to that county would either create an unsafe situation or adversely affect the operations of that court. Any conflict between the circuits regarding a potential change of venue shall be referred to the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court for resolution.

(b) Presiding Judge. The presiding judge from the originating court shall accompany the change of venue case, unless the originating and receiving courts agree otherwise.

(c) Reimbursement of Costs. As a general policy the county in which an action originated shall reimburse the county receiving the change of venue case for any ordinary expenditure and any extraordinary but reasonable and necessary expenditure that would not otherwise have been incurred by the receiving county. For purposes of this section, ordinary expenditure, extraordinary expenditure, and nonreimbursable expenditure are defined as follows:
(1) Ordinary expenditures include:
(A) juror expenses not reimbursed by the State of Florida;
(B) court reporter expenses, including appearances by either official or freelance reporters, transcripts, and other expenses associated with the creation of a court record;
(C) court interpreters;
(D) maintenance of evidence, including the cost of handling, storing, or maintaining the evidence beyond the expenses normally incurred by the receiving county;
(E) services and supplies purchased as a result of the change of venue;
(F) overtime expenditures for regular court and clerk staff attributable to the change of venue; and
(G) trial-related expenses, including conflict attorney fees; all expert, law enforcement, or ordinary witness costs and expenses; and investigator expenses.

(2) Extraordinary but reasonable and necessary expenses include:
(A) security-related expenditures, including overtime for security personnel;
(B) facility remodeling or renovation; and
(C) leasing or renting of space or equipment.
Except in emergencies or unless it is impracticable to do so, a receiving county should give notice to the chief judge and clerk of the county in which the action originated before incurring any extraordinary expenditures.

(3) Nonreimbursable expenses include:
(A) normal operating expenses, including the overhead of the receiving county; and
(B) equipment that is purchased and kept by the receiving county that can be used for other purposes or cases.


(d) Documentation of Costs. No expenses shall be submitted for reimbursement without supporting documentation, such as a claim, invoice, bill, statement, or time sheet. Any required court order or approval of costs shall also be sent to the originating court.

(e) Timing of Reimbursement. Unless both counties agree to other terms, reimbursement of all expenses by the originating county shall be paid or disputed in writing on or before the sixtieth day after the receipt of the claim for reimbursement. Payment of a disputed amount shall be made on or before the sixtieth day after the resolution of this dispute. Any amount subject to dispute shall be expeditiously resolved by authorized representatives of the court administrator’s office of the originating and receiving counties.

(f) Media Relations. Procedures to accommodate the media shall be developed by the receiving county immediately upon notice of the change of venue when the change of venue is reasonably expected to generate an unusual amount of publicity. These procedures must be approved by the chief judge of the receiving circuit and implemented pursuant to administrative order by the presiding judge. The presiding judge shall obtain the concurrence of the chief judge before entering any orders that vary from or conflict with existing administrative orders of the receiving circuit.

(g) Case File. The clerk of the circuit court in the originating county shall forward the original case file to the clerk in the receiving county. The receiving clerk shall maintain the file and keep it secure until the trial has been concluded. During the trial, any documents or exhibits that have been added shall be properly marked and added to the file in a manner consistent with the policy and procedures of the receiving county. After the conclusion of the trial, the file shall be returned to the clerk in the county of origin.

Congratulations! You're now booked up on Part II of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration (Fla. R. Jud. Admin.)!

Please get the justice you deserve.

Sincerely,



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