Court Basics

A summary of the four levels of judicial seats in Florida.

County court judges are elected by voters and serve 6 year terms. At the end of each term, if they are not challenged, they win the election automatically.

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They oversee the majority of non-jury trials in Florida. Most of their cases involve traffic offenses, misdemeanors, and civil disputes of $30,000 or less. They are eligible for assignment to the Circuit Court.

Judicial candidates must be impartial. They are not allowed to run on a platform or declare a party affiliation.

Learn More About County Court

Appointment Process

While county judges are meant to be elected, sometimes a vacancy is created from a judge leaving their position. The county courts are contained within a circuit court, and use the circuit court's Judicial Nominating Commission.

Circuit court judges are elected by voters and serve 6 year terms. At the end of each term they run for the seat again. If they run unopposed, they win the election automatically. If a vacancy is created between elections, they are appointed by the Governor.

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They oversee criminal and civil cases. This includes felonies, family law, civil cases above $30,000, probate, mental health, and some appeals.

Judicial candidates must be impartial. They are not allowed to run on a platform or declare a party affiliation.

Learn More About Circuit Court

Appointment Process

While circuit judges are meant to be elected, sometimes a vacancy is created from a judge leaving their position or a new position being created. There is a Judicial Nominating Commission for the each of the circuit courts. The Commission includes 9 members. 5 are directly appointed by the Governor. The other 4 are also appointed by the Governor, but from a list of 3 nominees provided by the Florida Bar. If the Governor doesn’t like the list, he can request a new one until he finds a nominee he likes.

5th District Court of Appeal

Appeal court judges are appointed by the Governor to serve a 6 year term. At the end of each term, voters choose to keep the judge or to remove them from office. If the judge is voted out, the Governor appoints a new judge.

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The Appeals Court reviews the decisions of lower courts with a three judge panel. If a person is unhappy with a ruling from this court, they can request higher courts to review the decision. These requests are often denied.

The Florida Appeal Courts are divided into five districts. This site focuses on the 5th District, which includes the following counties: Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Brevard, and Seminole.

Judicial candidates must be impartial. They are not allowed to run on a platform or declare a party affiliation.

Learn More About Florida's Courts of Appeal

Appointment Process

There is a Judicial Nominating Commission for the each of the Appeal Court districts. The Commission includes 9 members. 5 are directly appointed by the Governor. The other 4 are also appointed by the Governor, but from a list of 3 nominees provided by the Florida Bar. If the Governor doesn’t like the list, he can request a new one until he finds a nominee he likes.

Florida Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the Governor to serve a 6 year term. Voters choose to keep the Justice or to remove them from office. If the Justice is voted out, the Governor appoints a new Justice.

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This Court reviews the decisions of lower courts. There are seven Justices. At least five Justices must be on a panel for a case and at least four must agree. If a person is unhappy with a ruling from this court, they can request that the U.S. Supreme Court review the decision. These requests are often denied.

The Florida Supreme Court can also turn down requests for review. It must review certain rulings, though. These include final orders imposing death sentences, decisions declaring a State statute or part of the State Constitution invalid, bond validations, and certain orders of the Public Service Commission on utility rates and services.

Judicial candidates must be impartial. They are not allowed to run on a platform or declare a party affiliation.

Learn more at the Florida Supreme Court Website

Appointment Process

The Judicial Nominating Commission for the Supreme Court includes 9 members. 5 are directly appointed by the Governor. The other 4 are also appointed by the Governor, but from a list of 3 nominees provided by the Florida Bar. If the Governor doesn’t like the list, he can request a new one until he finds a nominee he likes.