How Do the Florida District Courts Of Appeal Work?
The Florida Courts of Appeal are the intermediate appellate courts in the state’s court system. The District Courts of Appeal in Florida provide a meditative review of verdicts made at lower courts by multi-judge panels. The District Courts of Appeal rectify harmful errors and ensure that rulings are consistent with the constitution‘s rights and liberties. This process enhances the development, clarity, and consistency of the law in Florida.
The jurisdiction of the Florida District Courts of Appeals falls within four categories, including:
- Appeal Jurisdiction
- Certiorari Jurisdiction
- Original Jurisdiction
- Discretionary Review
The appellate jurisdiction of the Florida District Courts of Appeal may be sought to review the following:
- The final orders of trial courts that are not directly reviewable by the supreme court or a circuit court; This also includes the last orders of county courts that declare a state statute or constitution provision as void.
- Non-final orders of circuit courts as specified by Rule 9.130
- Administrative action, if provided by general law.
The certiorari jurisdiction of the Florida District Courts of Appeal may be sought to review the following:
- Non-final orders of lower tribunals not prescribed by Rule 9.130
- Final orders of circuit courts operating in their review capacity.
The original jurisdiction of the Florida District Courts of Appeal may be sought to issue the following writs:
- Writ of mandamus
- Writ of prohibition
- Writ of quo warranto
- Writ of common law certiorari
This also includes other writs essential to the complete exercise of the courts’ jurisdiction. Also, any judge may hand out writs of habeas corpus returnable before the court or any judge thereof, or in the presence of any circuit judge within the court’s territorial jurisdiction.
Florida District Courts of Appeal may review by appeal, any of the following cases based on their discretion:
- Final orders of the county court, appealable to the circuit court following these rules, that the county court has verified to be of great public importance
- Non-final orders appealable to the circuit court following rule 9.140(c), that the county court has verified to be of great public importance
Three-judge panels hear cases at the Florida District Courts of Appeal. However, in rare cases, the Courts of Appeal may hold en banc hearings, in which all the judges hear the case. Also, District Courts of Appeal may retreat from specific case law and criterion in subsequent verdicts. Also, the Supreme Court may overrule a District Court’s criterion in favor of conflicting case law from another district.
The five District Courts of Appeal in Florida have jurisdiction over the following counties:
First District Court of Appeal
First Circuit: Walton, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Escambia counties
Second Circuit: Wakulla, Liberty, Leon, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, and counties
Third Circuit: Dixie, Hamilton, Columbia, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties
Fourth Circuit: Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties
Eighth Circuit: Baker, Bradford, Alachua, Gilchrist, Union, and Levy counties
Fourteenth Circuit: Bay, Calhoun, Holmes, Gulf, Washington, and Jackson counties
Second District Court of Appeal
Sixth Circuit: Pinellas and Pasco counties
Tenth Circuit: Highlands, Polk, and Hardee counties
Twelfth Circuit: DeSoto, Sarasota, and Manatee counties
Thirteenth Circuit: Hillsborough county
Twentieth Circuit: Charlotte, Glades, Collier, Lee, and Hendry counties
Third District Court of Appeal
Eleventh Circuit: Miami-Dade county
Sixteenth Circuit: Monroe county
Fourth District Court of Appeal
Fifteenth Circuit: Palm Beach county
Seventeenth Circuit: Broward county
Nineteenth Circuit: Indian River, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, and Martin counties
Fifth District Court of Appeal
Fifth Circuit: Citrus, Lake, Hernando, Sumter, and Marion counties
Seventh Circuit: Flagler, St. Johns, Volusia, and Putnam counties
Ninth Circuit: Osceola and Orange counties
Eighteenth Circuit: Brevard and Seminole counties
Similar to the procedure for appointing justices in the Florida Supreme Court, the Judicial Nominating Commission recommends judges for the District Court of Appeal. After this, the state governor then makes an appointment from the nominated options. The District Court of Appeal judges have a six-year term but must retire at age 75 even if they have not concluded their tenure.
After a term, the electors in the judge’s districts will be asked on the ballot to vote to determine whether the judge should be retained. (Retention rates are very high). The Florida District Courts of Appeal have varying numbers of judges depending on the docket size. The district court judges within a particular district court also elect a chief judge from among themselves. The chief judge performs administrative duties in the court.
To qualify as a judge, the applicant must be an eligible and registered voter residing in Florida. The candidate must also have been a Florida Bar member of good standing for at least ten years.
The Florida District Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court follow similar discipline and impeachment procedures. A judge may be removed by any of these two means:
- Sentenced by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and impeached by a two-thirds vote of the Florida House of Representatives
- Removed by the Supreme Court after a recommendation from the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission
Florida District Courts of Appeal (DCA) have regularly updated court dockets. For all courts excluding the Fourth and Fifth District Courts of Appeal, case information is refreshed once every weekday from 4:30 p.m. For the Fourth DCA, case information is refreshed twice daily at 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The Fifth DCA’s case information is also refreshed twice daily at 10:00 a.m. and 4:40 p.m.
The Florida District Courts of Appeal dockets include:
- First District Court of Appeal Online Docket
- Second District Court of Appeal Online Docket
- Third District Court of Appeal Online Docket
- Fourth District Court of Appeal Online Docket
- Fifth District Court of Appeal Online Docket
Interested persons may access this information by searching the above dockets with any of the following:
- Case Number
- Name of Party or Attorney
- Lower Tribunal Case Number
- Date Filed
- Cases Filed
There is no fixed time for an appeal to be resolved. When the briefing is finalized, the Florida Court of Appeals will set a date for an oral conference or argument as the court’s schedule permits. Since every case is treated discreetly, the length of time used to decide a case depends on the facts and the court’s caseload. However, a case could spend as much as 25 months or as little as six months in court.
There are five Florida District Courts of Appeal serving each judicial district in the state. These include Tallahassee, Lakeland, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Daytona Beach. The contact information of each District Court of Appeal is as follows:
The First District Court of Appeal
2000 Drayton Drive
Main: (850) 487–1000
Clerk’s Office: (850) 488–6151
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. excluding holidays
The Second District Court of Appeal
811 East Main Street
Lakeland, FL 33801
P. O. Box 327
Lakeland, FL 33802
Clerk’s Office: (863) 940–6060
Marshal’s Office and Judges’ Chambers: (863) 940–6050
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. excluding holidays
The Third District Court of Appeal
2001 S. W. 117th Avenue
Miami, FL 33175
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays
The Fourth District Court of Appeal
110 South Tamarind Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Telephone: (561) 242–2000
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays
The Fifth District Court of Appeal
300 South Beach Street
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Phone: (386) 947–1530
Clerk’s Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays