The Florida Supreme Court is calling for creating a sixth state appeals court. One of their reasons for making the call is “serious underrepresentation” of appellate judges from Jacksonville.
“The creation of a new district court, like any other significant change in the judicial system, would be accompanied by some degree of internal disruption, but we conclude that any such internal disruption in the district courts associated with the creation of a sixth district court would be short-lived and would be outweighed by the benefit of enhanced public trust and confidence,” said the Florida Supreme Court’s majority opinion shared by Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Jorge Labarga, Alan Lawson, Carlos Muniz and John Couriel.
Justice Ricky Polston was the lone dissenting voice questioning the representation claims for the Jacksonville area.
“Jacksonville has outstanding lawyers and judges, and I have the utmost respect for them,” Polston wrote. “It is undisputable that there have been numerous well-qualified Jacksonville applicants to the First District, including making the short list, who were not selected in recent history or by different governors over the last 20 years. But it is the governor’s selection, not the inability to attract well-qualified applicants, that is relevant under the rule.”
Florida currently has five district appeals courts, and the proposal would move Jacksonville underneath a revamped 5th District Court of Appeals. The newest district, the 6th District Court of Appeals, would incorporate cities like St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Sarasota.
Florida’s lawmakers would have to approve of creating the newest appeals court, and it would be the first time Florida has expanded its appeals court circuit since 1979.
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