House subcommittee advances bill to establish new judgeships

by | Jan 24, 2024

The Florida House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee has advanced a bill to add new judgeships in the 20th circuit and two counties, in response to a state Supreme Court directive.

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday advanced a bill proposing the addition of new judgeships in response to a state Supreme Court directive.

The measure, introduced by committee chairman Rep. Chuck Brennan, addresses the Florida Supreme Court’s November 13 order which identified the need for one additional circuit court judge and five county court judges. Under the proposed legislation, the 20th Judicial Circuit would gain one circuit court judge. Additionally, Hillsborough County and Orange County would receive two and three new county court judgeships, respectively.

“Based on analysis under the weighted caseload methodology, and using the existing case weights pending completion of the updated study, we conclude that there is a demonstrable need for an additional circuit court judge in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit … there is a demonstrable need for three additional county court judges for Orange County and two additional county court judges for Hillsborough County,” wrote the state Supreme Court in its November opinion.

The bill outlines a requirement of approximately $2.6 million in recurring general revenue funds to support these new positions. It also calls for 14 additional positions, including judicial assistants, to ensure adequate staffing for the expanded judiciary. These provisions are expected to be included in the fiscal year 2024-25 House of Representatives General Appropriations Act.

During the committee meeting, Eric McClure, representing the state court system, expressed support for the bill, while Rep. Mike Beltran, during the debate segment, underscored the positive impact of previous judicial additions in Hillsborough County, citing noticeable relief in court congestion.

“I’m very gratified that the legislature during my tenure, especially under your leadership, has been following the recommendations of the Supreme Court,” said Beltran. “Hillsborough County needed county judges, we got some a couple of years ago, now we’re getting more. I’ll tell you from being a practitioner as well, that there’s been a noticeable relief in the congestion in the courts thanks to these efforts.”


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