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Florida Constitution Revision Commission

PUB 700296: New Judiciary by Christopher Louis Licata III - Withdrawn by the Submitter

ARTICLE V: JUDICIARY

SECTION 1. Courts.

The judicial power shall be vested in a supreme court, district courts of appeal, circuit courts and county courts. No other courts may be established by the state, any political subdivision or any municipality. The legislature shall, by general law, divide the state into appellate court districts and judicial circuits following county lines. Commissions established by law, or administrative officers or bodies may be granted quasi-judicial power in matters connected with the functions of their offices. The legislature may establish by general law a civil traffic hearing officer system for the purpose of hearing civil traffic infractions. The legislature may, by general law, authorize a military court-martial to be conducted by military judges of the Florida National Guard, with direct appeal of a decision to the District Court of Appeal, First District.

SECTION 2. Administration; practice and procedure.
  1. The supreme court shall adopt rules for the practice and procedure in all courts including the time for seeking appellate review, the administrative supervision of all courts, the transfer to the court having jurisdiction of any proceeding when the jurisdiction of another court has been improvidently invoked, and a requirement that no cause shall be dismissed because an improper remedy has been sought. The supreme court shall adopt rules to allow the court and the district courts of appeal to submit questions relating to military law to the federal Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces for an advisory opinion. Rules of court may be repealed by general law enacted by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the legislature.
  2. The chief justice of the supreme court shall be chosen by a majority of the members of the court; shall be the chief administrative officer of the judicial system; and shall have the power to assign justices or judges, including consenting retired justices or judges, to temporary duty in any court for which the judge is qualified and to delegate to a chief judge of a judicial circuit the power to assign judges for duty in that circuit.
  3. A chief judge for each district court of appeal shall be chosen by a majority of the judges thereof or, if there is no majority, by the chief justice. The chief judge shall be responsible for the administrative supervision of the court.
  4. A chief judge in each circuit shall be chosen from among the circuit judges as provided by supreme court rule. The chief judge shall be responsible for the administrative supervision of the circuit courts and county courts in his circuit.
SECTION 3. Supreme court.
  1. ORGANIZATION.—The supreme court shall consist of seven justices. Of the seven justices, each appellate district shall have at least one justice elected or appointed from the district to the supreme court who is a resident of the district at the time of the original appointment or election. Five justices shall constitute a quorum. The concurrence of four justices shall be necessary to a decision. When recusals for cause would prohibit the court from convening because of the requirements of this section, judges assigned to temporary duty may be substituted for justices.
  2. JURISDICTION.—The supreme court:
    1. Shall hear appeals from final judgments of trial courts imposing the death penalty and from decisions of district courts of appeal declaring invalid a state statute or a provision of the state constitution.
    2. When provided by general law, shall hear appeals from final judgments entered in proceedings for the validation of bonds or certificates of indebtedness and shall review action of statewide agencies relating to rates or service of utilities providing electric, gas, or telephone service.
    3. May review any decision of a district court of appeal that expressly declares valid a state statute, or that expressly construes a provision of the state or federal constitution, or that expressly affects a class of constitutional or state officers, or that expressly and directly conflicts with a decision of another district court of appeal or of the supreme court on the same question of law.
    4. May review any decision of a district court of appeal that passes upon a question certified by it to be of great public importance, or that is certified by it to be in direct conflict with a decision of another district court of appeal.
    5. May review any order or judgment of a trial court certified by the district court of appeal in which an appeal is pending to be of great public importance, or to have a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state, and certified to require immediate resolution by the supreme court.
    6. May review a question of law certified by the Supreme Court of the United States or a United States Court of Appeals which is determinative of the cause and for which there is no controlling precedent of the supreme court of Florida.
    7. May issue writs of prohibition to courts and all writs necessary to the complete exercise of its jurisdiction.
    8. May issue writs of mandamus and quo warranto to state officers and state agencies.
    9. May, or any justice may, issue writs of habeas corpus returnable before the supreme court or any justice, a district court of appeal or any judge thereof, or any circuit judge.
    10. Shall, when requested by the attorney general pursuant to the provisions of Section 10 of Article IV, render an advisory opinion of the justices, addressing issues as provided by general law.
  3. CLERK AND MARSHAL.—The supreme court shall appoint a clerk and a marshal who shall hold office during the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. Their compensation shall be fixed by general law. The marshal shall have the power to execute the process of the court throughout the state, and in any county may deputize the sheriff or a deputy sheriff for such purpose.
SECTION 4. District courts of appeal.
  1. ORGANIZATION.—There shall be a district court of appeal serving each appellate district. Each district court of appeal shall consist of at least three judges. Three judges shall consider each case and the concurrence of two shall be necessary to a decision.
  2. JURISDICTION.—
    1. District courts of appeal shall have jurisdiction to hear appeals, that may be taken as a matter of right, from final judgments or orders of trial courts, including those entered on review of administrative action, not directly appealable to the supreme court or a circuit court. They may review interlocutory orders in such cases to the extent provided by rules adopted by the supreme court.
    2. District courts of appeal shall have the power of direct review of administrative action, as prescribed by general law.
    3. A district court of appeal or any judge thereof may issue writs of habeas corpus returnable before the court or any judge thereof or before any circuit judge within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. A district court of appeal may issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and other writs necessary to the complete exercise of its jurisdiction. To the extent necessary to dispose of all issues in a cause properly before it, a district court of appeal may exercise any of the appellate jurisdiction of the circuit courts.
  3. CLERKS AND MARSHALS.—Each district court of appeal shall appoint a clerk and a marshal who shall hold office during the pleasure of the court and perform such duties as the court directs. Their compensation shall be fixed by general law. The marshal shall have the power to execute the process of the court throughout the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and in any county may deputize the sheriff or a deputy sheriff for such purpose.
SECTION 5. Circuit courts.
  1. ORGANIZATION.—There shall be a circuit court serving each judicial circuit.
  2. JURISDICTION.—The circuit courts shall have original jurisdiction not vested in the county courts, and jurisdiction of appeals when provided by general law. They shall have the power to issue writs of mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition and habeas corpus, and all writs necessary or proper to the complete exercise of their jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of the circuit court shall be uniform throughout the state. They shall have the power of direct review of administrative action prescribed by general law.
SECTION 6. County courts.
  1. ORGANIZATION.—There shall be a county court in each county. There shall be one or more judges for each county court as prescribed by general law.
  2. JURISDICTION.—The county courts shall exercise the jurisdiction prescribed by general law. Such jurisdiction shall be uniform throughout the state.
SECTION 7. Specialized divisions.

All courts except the supreme court may sit in divisions as may be established by general law. A circuit or county court may hold civil and criminal trials and hearings in any place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court as designated by the chief judge of the circuit.

SECTION 8. Eligibility.

No person shall be eligible for office of justice or judge of any court unless the person is an elector of the state and resides in the territorial jurisdiction of the court. No justice or judge shall serve after attaining the age of seventy years except upon temporary assignment or to complete a term, one-half of which has been served. No person is eligible for the office of justice of the supreme court or judge of a district court of appeal unless the person is, and has been for the preceding ten years, a member of the bar of Florida. No person is eligible for the office of circuit judge unless the person is, and has been for the preceding five years, a member of the bar of Florida. Unless otherwise provided by general law, no person is eligible for the office of county court judge unless the person is, and has been for the preceding five years, a member of the bar of Florida. Unless otherwise provided by general law, a person shall be eligible for election or appointment to the office of county court judge in a county having a population of 40,000 or less if the person is a member in good standing of the bar of Florida.

SECTION 9. Determination of number of judges.

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 and judicial circuits. If the supreme court finds that a need exists for increasing or decreasing the number of judges or increasing, decreasing or redefining appellate districts and judicial circuits, it shall, prior to the next regular session of the legislature, certify to the legislature its findings and recommendations concerning such need. Upon receipt of such certificate, the legislature, at the next regular session, shall consider the findings and recommendations and may reject the recommendations or by law implement the recommendations in whole or in part; provided the legislature may create more judicial offices than are recommended by the supreme court or may decrease the number of judicial offices by a greater number than recommended by the court only upon a finding of two-thirds of the membership of both houses of the legislature, that such a need exists. A decrease in the number of judges shall be effective only after the expiration of a term. If the supreme court fails to make findings as provided above when need exists, the legislature may by concurrent resolution request the court to certify its findings and recommendations and upon the failure of the court to certify its findings for nine consecutive months, the legislature may, upon a finding of two-thirds of the membership of both houses of the legislature that a need exists, increase or decrease the number of judges or increase, decrease or redefine appellate districts and judicial circuits.

SECTION 10. Retention; election and terms.
  1. Any justice or judge may qualify for retention by a vote of the electors in the general election next preceding the expiration of the justice's or judge's term in the manner prescribed by law. If a justice or judge is ineligible or fails to qualify for retention, a vacancy shall exist in that office upon the expiration of the term being served by the justice or judge. When a justice or judge so qualifies, the ballot shall read substantially as follows: "Shall Justice (or Judge) [name of justice or judge] of the [name of the court] be retained in office?" If a majority of the qualified electors voting within the territorial jurisdiction of the court vote to retain, the justice or judge shall be retained for a term of six years. The term of the justice or judge retained shall commence on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January following the general election. If a majority of the qualified electors voting within the territorial jurisdiction of the court vote to not retain, a vacancy shall exist in that office upon the expiration of the term being served by the justice or judge.
    1. The election of circuit judges shall be preserved notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) unless a majority of those voting in the jurisdiction of that circuit approves a local option to select circuit judges by merit selection and retention rather than by election. The election of circuit judges shall be by a vote of the qualified electors within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
    2. The election of county court judges shall be preserved notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) unless a majority of those voting in the jurisdiction of that county approves a local option to select county judges by merit selection and retention rather than by election. The election of county court judges shall be by a vote of the qualified electors within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
      1. A vote to exercise a local option to select circuit court judges and county court judges by merit selection and retention rather than by election shall be held in each circuit and county at the general election in the year 2000. If a vote to exercise this local option fails in a vote of the electors, such option shall not again be put to a vote of the electors of that jurisdiction until the expiration of at least two years.
      2. After the year 2000, a circuit may initiate the local option for merit selection and retention or the election of circuit judges, whichever is applicable, by filing with the custodian of state records a petition signed by the number of electors equal to at least ten percent of the votes cast in the circuit in the last preceding election in which presidential electors were chosen.
      3. After the year 2000, a county may initiate the local option for merit selection and retention or the election of county court judges, whichever is applicable, by filing with the supervisor of elections a petition signed by the number of electors equal to at least ten percent of the votes cast in the county in the last preceding election in which presidential electors were chosen. The terms of circuit judges and judges of county courts shall be for six years.
SECTION 11. Vacancies.
  1. Whenever a vacancy occurs in a judicial office to which election for retention applies, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointing for a term ending on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of the year following the next general election occurring at least one year after the date of appointment, one of not fewer than three persons nor more than six persons nominated by the appropriate judicial nominating commission.
  2. The governor shall fill each vacancy on a circuit court or on a county court, wherein the judges are elected by a majority vote of the electors, by appointing for a term ending on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of the year following the next primary and general election occurring at least one year after the date of appointment, one of not fewer than three persons nor more than six persons nominated by the appropriate judicial nominating commission. An election shall be held to fill that judicial office for the term of the office beginning at the end of the appointed term.
  3. The nominations shall be made within thirty days from the occurrence of a vacancy unless the period is extended by the governor for a time not to exceed thirty days. The governor shall make the appointment within sixty days after the nominations have been certified to the governor.
  4. There shall be a separate judicial nominating commission as provided by general law for the supreme court, each district court of appeal, and each judicial circuit for all trial courts within the circuit. Uniform rules of procedure shall be established by the judicial nominating commissions at each level of the court system. Such rules, or any part thereof, may be repealed by general law enacted by a majority vote of the membership of each house of the legislature, or by the supreme court, five justices concurring. Except for deliberations of the judicial nominating commissions, the proceedings of the commissions and their records shall be open to the public.
SECTION 12. Discipline; removal and retirement.
  1. JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION.—A judicial qualifications commission is created.
    1. There shall be a judicial qualifications commission vested with jurisdiction to investigate and recommend to the Supreme Court of Florida the removal from office of any justice or judge whose conduct, during term of office or otherwise occurring on or after November 1, 1966, (without regard to the effective date of this section) demonstrates a present unfitness to hold office, and to investigate and recommend the discipline of a justice or judge whose conduct, during term of office or otherwise occurring on or after November 1, 1966 (without regard to the effective date of this section), warrants such discipline. For purposes of this section, discipline is defined as any or all of the following: reprimand, fine, suspension with or without pay, or lawyer discipline. The commission shall have jurisdiction over justices and judges regarding allegations that misconduct occurred before or during service as a justice or judge if a complaint is made no later than one year following service as a justice or judge. The commission shall have jurisdiction regarding allegations of incapacity during service as a justice or judge. The commission shall be composed of:
      1. Two judges of district courts of appeal selected by the judges of those courts, two circuit judges selected by the judges of the circuit courts and two judges of county courts selected by the judges of those courts;
      2. Four electors who reside in the state, who are members of the bar of Florida, and who shall be chosen by the governing body of the bar of Florida; and
      3. Five electors who reside in the state, who have never held judicial office or been members of the bar of Florida, and who shall be appointed by the governor.
    2. The members of the judicial qualifications commission shall serve staggered terms, not to exceed six years, as prescribed by general law. No member of the commission except a judge shall be eligible for state judicial office while acting as a member of the commission and for a period of two years thereafter. No member of the commission shall hold office in a political party or participate in any campaign for judicial office or hold public office; provided that a judge may campaign for judicial office and hold that office. The commission shall elect one of its members as its chairperson.
    3. Members of the judicial qualifications commission not subject to impeachment shall be subject to removal from the commission pursuant to the provisions of Article IV, Section 7, Florida Constitution.
    4. The commission shall adopt rules regulating its proceedings, the filling of vacancies by the appointing authorities, the disqualification of members, the rotation of members between the panels, and the temporary replacement of disqualified or incapacitated members. The commission's rules, or any part thereof, may be repealed by general law enacted by a majority vote of the membership of each house of the legislature, or by the supreme court, five justices concurring. The commission shall have power to issue subpoenas. Until formal charges against a justice or judge are filed by the investigative panel with the clerk of the supreme court of Florida all proceedings by or before the commission shall be confidential; provided, however, upon a finding of probable cause and the filing by the investigative panel with said clerk of such formal charges against a justice or judge such charges and all further proceedings before the commission shall be public.
    5. The commission shall have access to all information from all executive, legislative and judicial agencies, including grand juries, subject to the rules of the commission. At any time, on request of the speaker of the house of representatives or the governor, the commission shall make available all information in the possession of the commission for use in consideration of impeachment or suspension, respectively.
  2. PANELS.—The commission shall be divided into an investigative panel and a hearing panel as established by rule of the commission. The investigative panel is vested with the jurisdiction to receive or initiate complaints, conduct investigations, dismiss complaints, and upon a vote of a simple majority of the panel submit formal charges to the hearing panel. The hearing panel is vested with the authority to receive and hear formal charges from the investigative panel and upon a two-thirds vote of the panel recommend to the supreme court the removal of a justice or judge or the involuntary retirement of a justice or judge for any permanent disability that seriously interferes with the performance of judicial duties. Upon a simple majority vote of the membership of the hearing panel, the panel may recommend to the supreme court that the justice or judge be subject to appropriate discipline.
  3. SUPREME COURT.—The supreme court shall receive recommendations from the judicial qualifications commission's hearing panel.
    1. The supreme court may accept, reject, or modify in whole or in part the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the commission and it may order that the justice or judge be subjected to appropriate discipline, or be removed from office with termination of compensation for willful or persistent failure to perform judicial duties or for other conduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary demonstrating a present unfitness to hold office, or be involuntarily retired for any permanent disability that seriously interferes with the performance of judicial duties. Malafides, scienter or moral turpitude on the part of a justice or judge shall not be required for removal from office of a justice or judge whose conduct demonstrates a present unfitness to hold office. After the filing of a formal proceeding and upon request of the investigative panel, the supreme court may suspend the justice or judge from office, with or without compensation, pending final determination of the inquiry.
    2. The supreme court may award costs to the prevailing party.
  4. The power of removal conferred by this section shall be both alternative and cumulative to the power of impeachment.
  5. Notwithstanding any of the foregoing provisions of this section, if the person who is the subject of proceedings by the judicial qualifications commission is a justice of the supreme court of Florida all justices of such court automatically shall be disqualified to sit as justices of such court with respect to all proceedings therein concerning such person and the supreme court for such purposes shall be composed of a panel consisting of the seven chief judges of the judicial circuits of the state of Florida most senior in tenure of judicial office as circuit judge. For purposes of determining seniority of such circuit judges in the event there be judges of equal tenure in judicial office as circuit judge the judge or judges from the lower numbered circuit or circuits shall be deemed senior. In the event any such chief circuit judge is under investigation by the judicial qualifications commission or is otherwise disqualified or unable to serve on the panel, the next most senior chief circuit judge or judges shall serve in place of such disqualified or disabled chief circuit judge.
  6. SCHEDULE TO SECTION 12.—
    1. Except to the extent inconsistent with the provisions of this section, all provisions of law and rules of court in force on the effective date of this article shall continue in effect until superseded in the manner authorized by the constitution.
    2. After this section becomes effective and until adopted by rule of the commission consistent with it:
      1. The commission shall be divided, as determined by the chairperson, into one investigative panel and one hearing panel to meet the responsibilities set forth in this section.
      2. The investigative panel shall be composed of:
        1. Four judges,
        2. Two members of the bar of Florida, and
        3. Three non-lawyers.
      3. The hearing panel shall be composed of:
        1. Two judges,
        2. Two members of the bar of Florida, and
        3. Two non-lawyers.
      4. Membership on the panels may rotate in a manner determined by the rules of the commission provided that no member shall vote as a member of the investigative and hearing panel on the same proceeding.
      5. The commission shall hire separate staff for each panel.
      6. The members of the commission shall serve for staggered terms of six years.
      7. The terms of office of the present members of the judicial qualifications commission shall expire upon the effective date of the amendments to this section approved by the legislature during the regular session of the legislature in 1996 and new members shall be appointed to serve the following staggered terms:
        1. Group I.—The terms of five members, composed of two electors as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)c. of Article V, one member of the bar of Florida as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)b. of Article V, one judge from the district courts of appeal and one circuit judge as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)a. of Article V, shall expire on December 31, 1998.
        2. Group II.—The terms of five members, composed of one elector as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)c. of Article V, two members of the bar of Florida as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)b. of Article V, one circuit judge and one county judge as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)a. of Article V shall expire on December 31, 2000.
        3. Group III.—The terms of five members, composed of two electors as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)c. of Article V, one member of the bar of Florida as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)b., one judge from the district courts of appeal and one county judge as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)a. of Article V, shall expire on December 31, 2002.
      8. An appointment to fill a vacancy of the commission shall be for the remainder of the term.
      9. Selection of members by district courts of appeal judges, circuit judges, and county court judges, shall be by no less than a majority of the members voting at the respective courts' conferences. Selection of members by the board of governors of the bar of Florida shall be by no less than a majority of the board.
      10. The commission shall be entitled to recover the costs of investigation and prosecution, in addition to any penalty levied by the supreme court.
      11. The compensation of members and referees shall be the travel expenses or transportation and per diem allowance as provided by general law.
SECTION 13. Prohibited activities.

All justices and judges shall devote full time to their judicial duties. They shall not engage in the practice of law or hold office in any political party.

SECTION 14. Funding.
  1. All justices and judges shall be compensated only by state salaries fixed by general law. Funding for the state courts system, state attorneys' offices, public defenders' offices, and court-appointed counsel, except as otherwise provided in subsection (c), shall be provided from state revenues appropriated by general law.
  2. All funding for the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts performing court-related functions, except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subsection (c), shall be provided by adequate and appropriate filing fees for judicial proceedings and service charges and costs for performing court-related functions as required by general law. Selected salaries, costs, and expenses of the state courts system may be funded from appropriate filing fees for judicial proceedings and service charges and costs for performing court-related functions, as provided by general law. Where the requirements of either the United States Constitution or the Constitution of the State of Florida preclude the imposition of filing fees for judicial proceedings and service charges and costs for performing court-related functions sufficient to fund the court-related functions of the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts, the state shall provide, as determined by the legislature, adequate and appropriate supplemental funding from state revenues appropriated by general law.
  3. No county or municipality, except as provided in this subsection, shall be required to provide any funding for the state courts system, state attorneys' offices, public defenders' offices, court-appointed counsel or the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts performing court-related functions. Counties shall be required to fund the cost of communications services, existing radio systems, existing multi-agency criminal justice information systems, and the cost of construction or lease, maintenance, utilities, and security of facilities for the trial courts, public defenders' offices, state attorneys' offices, and the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts performing court-related functions. Counties shall also pay reasonable and necessary salaries, costs, and expenses of the state courts system to meet local requirements as determined by general law.
  4. The judiciary shall have no power to fix appropriations.
SECTION 15. Attorneys; admission and discipline.

The supreme court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the admission of persons to the practice of law and the discipline of persons admitted.

SECTION 16. Clerks of the circuit courts.

There shall be in each county a clerk of the circuit court who shall be selected pursuant to the provisions of Article VIII section 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of the constitution, the duties of the clerk of the circuit court may be divided by special or general law between two officers, one serving as clerk of court and one serving as ex officio clerk of the board of county commissioners, auditor, recorder, and custodian of all county funds. There may be a clerk of the county court if authorized by general or special law.

SECTION 17. State attorneys.

In each judicial circuit a state attorney shall be elected for a term of four years. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, the state attorney shall be the prosecuting officer of all trial courts in that circuit and shall perform other duties prescribed by general law; provided, however, when authorized by general law, the violations of all municipal ordinances may be prosecuted by municipal prosecutors. A state attorney shall be an elector of the state and reside in the territorial jurisdiction of the circuit; shall be and have been a member of the bar of Florida for the preceding five years; shall devote full time to the duties of the office; and shall not engage in the private practice of law. State attorneys shall appoint such assistant state attorneys as may be authorized by law.

SECTION 18. Public defenders.

In each judicial circuit a public defender shall be elected for a term of four years, who shall perform duties prescribed by general law. A public defender shall be an elector of the state and reside in the territorial jurisdiction of the circuit and shall be and have been a member of the Bar of Florida for the preceding five years. Public defenders shall appoint such assistant public defenders as may be authorized by law.

SECTION 19. Judicial officers as conservators of the peace.

All judicial officers in this state shall be conservators of the peace.

SECTION 20. Schedule to Article V.
  1. This article shall replace all of Article V of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, which shall then stand repealed.
  2. Except to the extent inconsistent with the provisions of this article, all provisions of law and rules of court in force on the effective date of this article shall continue in effect until superseded in the manner authorized by the constitution.
  3. After this article becomes effective, and until changed by general law consistent with sections 1 through 19 of this article:
    1. The supreme court shall have the jurisdiction immediately theretofore exercised by it, and it shall determine all proceedings pending before it on the effective date of this article.
    2. The appellate districts shall be those in existence on the date of adoption of this article. There shall be a district court of appeal in each district. The district courts of appeal shall have the jurisdiction immediately theretofore exercised by the district courts of appeal and shall determine all proceedings pending before them on the effective date of this article.
    3. Circuit courts shall have jurisdiction of appeals from county courts and municipal courts, except those appeals which may be taken directly to the supreme court; and they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all actions at law not cognizable by the county courts; of proceedings relating to the settlement of the estate of decedents and minors, the granting of letters testamentary, guardianship, involuntary hospitalization, the determination of incompetency, and other jurisdiction usually pertaining to courts of probate; in all cases in equity including all cases relating to juveniles; of all felonies and of all misdemeanors arising out of the same circumstances as a felony which is also charged; in all cases involving legality of any tax assessment or toll; in the action of ejectment; and in all actions involving the titles or boundaries or right of possession of real property. The circuit court may issue injunctions. There shall be judicial circuits which shall be the judicial circuits in existence on the date of adoption of this article. The chief judge of a circuit may authorize a county court judge to order emergency hospitalizations pursuant to Chapter 71-131, Laws of Florida, in the absence from the county of the circuit judge and the county court judge shall have the power to issue all temporary orders and temporary injunctions necessary or proper to the complete exercise of such jurisdiction.
    4. County courts shall have original jurisdiction in all criminal misdemeanor cases not cognizable by the circuit courts, of all violations of municipal and county ordinances, and of all actions at law in which the matter in controversy does not exceed the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) exclusive of interest and costs, except those within the exclusive jurisdiction of the circuit courts. Judges of county courts shall be committing magistrates. The county courts shall have jurisdiction now exercised by the county judge's courts other than that vested in the circuit court by subsection (c)(3) hereof, the jurisdiction now exercised by the county courts, the claims court, the small claims courts, the small claims magistrates courts, magistrates courts, justice of the peace courts, municipal courts and courts of chartered counties, including but not limited to the counties referred to in Article VIII, sections 9, 10, 11 and 24 of the Constitution of 1885.
    5. Each judicial nominating commission shall be composed of the following:
      1. Three members appointed by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar from among The Florida Bar members who are actively engaged in the practice of law with offices within the territorial jurisdiction of the affected court, district or circuit;
      2. Three electors who reside in the territorial jurisdiction of the court or circuit appointed by the governor; and
      3. Three electors who reside in the territorial jurisdiction of the court or circuit and who are not members of the bar of Florida, selected and appointed by a majority vote of the other six members of the commission.
    6. No justice or judge shall be a member of a judicial nominating commission. A member of a judicial nominating commission may hold public office other than judicial office. No member shall be eligible for appointment to state judicial office so long as that person is a member of a judicial nominating commission and for a period of two years thereafter. All acts of a judicial nominating commission shall be made with a concurrence of a majority of its members.
    7. The members of a judicial nominating commission shall serve for a term of four years except the terms of the initial members of the judicial nominating commissions shall expire as follows:
      1. The terms of one member of category a. b. and c. in subsection (c)(5) hereof shall expire on July 1, 1974;
      2. The terms of one member of category a. b. and c. in subsection (c)(5) hereof shall expire on July 1, 1975;
      3. The terms of one member of category a. b. and c. in subsection (c)(5) hereof shall expire on July 1, 1976;
    8. All fines and forfeitures arising from offenses tried in the county court shall be collected, and accounted for by clerk of the court, and deposited in a special trust account. All fines and forfeitures received from violations of ordinances or misdemeanors committed within a county or municipal ordinances committed within a municipality within the territorial jurisdiction of the county court shall be paid monthly to the county or municipality respectively. If any costs are assessed and collected in connection with offenses tried in county court, all court costs shall be paid into the general revenue fund of the state of Florida and such other funds as prescribed by general law.
    9. Any municipality or county may apply to the chief judge of the circuit in which that municipality or county is situated for the county court to sit in a location suitable to the municipality or county and convenient in time and place to its citizens and police officers and upon such application said chief judge shall direct the court to sit in the location unless the chief judge shall determine the request is not justified. If the chief judge does not authorize the county court to sit in the location requested, the county or municipality may apply to the supreme court for an order directing the county court to sit in the location. Any municipality or county which so applies shall be required to provide the appropriate physical facilities in which the county court may hold court.
    10. All courts except the supreme court may sit in divisions as may be established by local rule approved by the supreme court.
    11. A county court judge in any county having a population of 40,000 or less according to the last decennial census, shall not be required to be a member of the bar of Florida.
    12. Municipal prosecutors may prosecute violations of municipal ordinances.
    13. Justice shall mean a justice elected or appointed to the supreme court and shall not include any judge assigned from any court.
  4. When this article becomes effective:
    1. All courts not herein authorized, except as provided by subsection (d)(4) of this section shall cease to exist and jurisdiction to conclude all pending cases and enforce all prior orders and judgments shall vest in the court that would have jurisdiction of the cause if thereafter instituted. All records of and property held by courts abolished hereby shall be transferred to the proper office of the appropriate court under this article.
    2. Judges of the following courts, if their terms do not expire in 1973 and if they are eligible under subsection (d)(8) hereof, shall become additional judges of the circuit court for each of the counties of their respective circuits, and shall serve as such circuit judges for the remainder of the terms to which they were elected and shall be eligible for election as circuit judges thereafter. These courts are: civil court of record of Dade county, all criminal courts of record, the felony courts of record of Alachua, Leon and Volusia Counties, the courts of record of Broward, Brevard, Escambia, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, the civil and criminal court of record of Pinellas County, and county judge's courts and separate juvenile courts in counties having a population in excess of 100,000 according to the 1970 federal census. On the effective date of this article, there shall be an additional number of positions of circuit judges equal to the number of existing circuit judges and the number of judges of the above named courts whose term expires in 1973. Elections to such offices shall take place at the same time and manner as elections to other state judicial offices in 1972 and the terms of such offices shall be for a term of six years. Unless changed pursuant to section nine of this article, the number of circuit judges presently existing and created by this subsection shall not be changed.
    3. In all counties having a population of less than 100,000 according to the 1970 federal census and having more than one county judge on the date of the adoption of this article, there shall be the same number of judges of the county court as there are county judges existing on that date unless changed pursuant to section 9 of this article.
    4. Municipal courts shall continue with their same jurisdiction until amended or terminated in a manner prescribed by special or general law or ordinances, or until January 3, 1977, whichever occurs first. On that date all municipal courts not previously abolished shall cease to exist. Judges of municipal courts shall remain in office and be subject to reappointment or reelection in the manner prescribed by law until said courts are terminated pursuant to the provisions of this subsection. Upon municipal courts being terminated or abolished in accordance with the provisions of this subsection, the judges thereof who are not members of the bar of Florida, shall be eligible to seek election as judges of county courts of their respective counties.
    5. Judges, holding elective office in all other courts abolished by this article, whose terms do not expire in 1973 including judges established pursuant to Article VIII, sections 9 and 11 of the Constitution of 1885 shall serve as judges of the county court for the remainder of the term to which they were elected. Unless created pursuant to section 9, of this Article V such judicial office shall not continue to exist thereafter.
    6. By March 21, 1972, the supreme court shall certify the need for additional circuit and county judges. The legislature in the 1972 regular session may by general law create additional offices of judge, the terms of which shall begin on the effective date of this article. Elections to such offices shall take place at the same time and manner as election to other state judicial offices in 1972.
    7. County judges of existing county judge's courts and justices of the peace and magistrates' court who are not members of bar of Florida shall be eligible to seek election as county court judges of their respective counties.
    8. No judge of a court abolished by this article shall become or be eligible to become a judge of the circuit court unless the judge has been a member of bar of Florida for the preceding five years.
    9. The office of judges of all other courts abolished by this article shall be abolished as of the effective date of this article.
    10. The offices of county solicitor and prosecuting attorney shall stand abolished, and all county solicitors and prosecuting attorneys holding such offices upon the effective date of this article shall become and serve as assistant state attorneys for the circuits in which their counties are situate for the remainder of their terms, with compensation not less than that received immediately before the effective date of this article.
  5. LIMITED OPERATION OF SOME PROVISIONS.—
    1. All justices of the supreme court, judges of the district courts of appeal and circuit judges in office upon the effective date of this article shall retain their offices for the remainder of their respective terms. All members of the judicial qualifications commission in office upon the effective date of this article shall retain their offices for the remainder of their respective terms. Each state attorney in office on the effective date of this article shall retain the office for the remainder of the term.
    2. No justice or judge holding office immediately after this article becomes effective who held judicial office on July 1, 1957, shall be subject to retirement from judicial office because of age pursuant to section 8 of this article.
  6. Until otherwise provided by law, the nonjudicial duties required of county judges shall be performed by the judges of the county court.
  7. All provisions of Article V of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, not embraced herein which are not inconsistent with this revision shall become statutes subject to modification or repeal as are other statutes.
  8. The requirements of section 14 relative to all county court judges or any judge of a municipal court who continues to hold office pursuant to subsection (d)(4) hereof being compensated by state salaries shall not apply prior to January 3, 1977, unless otherwise provided by general law.
  9. DELETION OF OBSOLETE SCHEDULE ITEMS.—The legislature shall have power, by concurrent resolution, to delete from this article any subsection of this section 20 including this subsection, when all events to which the subsection to be deleted is or could become applicable have occurred. A legislative determination of fact made as a basis for application of this subsection shall be subject to judicial review.
  10. EFFECTIVE DATE.—Unless otherwise provided herein, this article shall become effective at 11:59 o'clock P.M., Eastern Standard Time, January 1, 1973.

NEW ARTICLE

Title: REPLACE ARTICLE 5

 

Section 1

  1. Judicial Jurisdiction of the state and the several Counties, shall extend to all Cases or Controversies in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Constitution of the United States and the Laws of the Florida; for it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. 
  2. The State Court shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases; affecting a Legislator, Senator, Governor, Chancellor, Speaker, Judge, Military Flag Officer of Florida, Cabinet member, those in which Florida shall itself be Party to and in all cases between two or more of the several Counties. 
  3. The State and County Courts and shall have original Jurisdiction in all cases; that a County, Municipality, Enterprise, Citizens or group of Citizens shall be party to. This be with due regard in the case that those charged with crimes in different jurisdictions, the level of government that encompasses all these jurisdictions within the state of Florida, shall then be duty bound to charge the person or group of persons, with the charges of the different jurisdictions.
  4. In no case, shall these judicial power be construed to infringe upon the fact of executive privilege nor upon sovereign immunity of the several municipally, counties, the State nor the United States as understood under common law.
  5. Provision may be made by general law for bringing suit against the state as to all liabilities now existing or hereafter originating.

Section 2 

  1. Judges at all levels of government shall have the power to issue Warrants accusing a person of a crime and commanding them to be arrested, arraigned and be presented to a Grand Jury, furthermore all judges shall exercise the exclusive judicial power of sentencing upon the convicted in accordance with the rules of common law.
  2. State Judges and Justices shall receive a Compensation for their services, be paid out of the State Treasury an amount determined by law, which shall not be diminished during their term of office. County Judges shall receive a Compensation for their services, be paid out of the county Treasury an amount determined by law, which shall not be diminished during their term of office. No Court, Supreme or Inferior; State, or County may make any ruling without the entire bench filled and present.  

 

Section 3

  1. The power of Judicial Review shall be vested in the State Courts to preside over law; so that in any case that a law of been passed by the State of Florida, a County, or a Municipality that oversteps the expressed powers respectively to each branch and level of government; or that a County, Municipality, Enterprise, Person or group of Persons be prosecuted or penalized under a law that unjustly infringes upon their Rights under this Constitution. In all such cases, it is the duty of the State Courts to hear the appeal and make a ruling on whether or not this is or is not the case and if so strike down the law until such a time that the Constitution be amended to allow such a law to exist.

Section 4

  1. All current and senior County Judges shall divide themselves into twelve classes from vacancies then most senior to most junior each class to serve one twelve year term. The first class shall vacate the bench on the second Wednesday of March of the first year after ratification and each successive class every year thereafter.
  2. The process of selecting the new class of Judges shall be via nominations by the County Executive Triad issued on the second Wednesday of March these nominees subjected to confirmation of two-thirds of the County House of Representatives. Should a nominee be rejected, the County Executive Triad within twenty-four hours submit a new nominee for confirmation. The County House of Representatives shall have until the end of the second Wednesday of May to confirm or reject the nominees after which the County High Court shall by secret majority vote directly appoint a citizen(s) to the currently vacant judgeship(s) as a County Judge(s) for that entire twelve year term. These County Courts shall be established and may be disestablished by County law.
  3. These County Courts inferior to the County High Court and all State and Federal courts of jurisdiction. A County Judge may at any time be removed from the bench by a vote of no confidence via fourth-fifths of the County Senate.
  4. In cases of unexpected vacancy due to removal, resignation or death, the County Appellate Court of jurisdiction shall by secret majority vote fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. County Judges whether appointed for an entire term or interim term shall become ineligible to reappointment as a County Judge. 
  5. Each county shall create County High judges whom after immediate appointment by the State Executive Triad after ratification, shall divide themselves into fourteen, each class to serve one fourteen year term. The first class shall vacate the bench on the third Wednesday of May of the fifth year after ratification and each successive class every year thereafter. Each County High Court shall be comprised of one judge from each class.
  6. The process of selecting the new Judges for each appellate shall be via nominations by the County Executive Triad issued on the third Wednesday of May these nominees subjected to confirmation of two-thirds of the county Senate. Should a nominee be rejected, the County Executive Triad within twenty-four hours submits a new nominee for confirmation. The county Senate shall have until the end of the third Wednesday of July to confirm or reject the nominees after which the several county Judges of the county in Conclave shall via secret majority ballot choose from themselves one as a high Court Justice for the entire fourteen-year term.
  7. County high Courts shall be inferior to all state and Federal courts of jurisdiction. Appellate Judges may at any time be removed from the bench by a vote of no confidence via fourth-fifths of the county House of Representatives. In cases of unexpected vacancy due to removal, resignation or death, the Supreme Court shall by secret majority vote fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. County high Judges whether appointed for an entire term or interim term shall become ineligible to reappointment as a County High Judge or as a County Judge. 

 

Section 5

  1. All current and senior State Circuit Judges shall divide themselves into twelve classes from vacancies then most senior to most junior each class to serve one twelve year term. The first class shall vacate the bench on the second Wednesday of March of the first year after ratification and each successive class every year thereafter.
  2. The process of selecting the new class of Judges shall be via nominations by the Executive Triad issued on the second Wednesday of March these nominees subjected to confirmation of two-thirds of the House of Representatives. Should a nominee be rejected, the Executive Triad within twenty-four hours submits a new nominee for confirmation. The House of Representatives shall have until the end of the second Wednesday of May to confirm or reject the nominees after which the State Appellate Court of jurisdiction shall by secret majority vote directly appoint a citizen(s) to the currently vacant judgeship(s) as a State Circuit Judge(s) for that entire twelve year term. These State Circuit Courts shall be established and may be disestablished by law.
  3. These State Courts along with the High Courts of each County shall be inferior to the State Appellate Courts the Supreme Court of the Florida and all Federal courts of jurisdiction . A State Judge may at any time be removed from the bench by a vote of no confidence via fourth-fifths of the Senate.
  4. In cases of unexpected vacancy due to removal, resignation or death, the State Appellate Court of jurisdiction shall by secret majority vote fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. State Circuit Judges whether appointed for an entire term or interim term shall become ineligible to reappointment as a State Circuit Judge. 

Section 6 

  1. All current and senior State Appellate judges shall divide themselves into fourteen classes from most senior to most junior then addition, each class to serve one fourteen year term. The first class shall vacate the bench on the third Wednesday of May of the first year after ratification and each successive class every year thereafter. Each State Appellate Court shall be comprised of one judge from each class.
  2. The process of selecting the new Judges for each appellate shall be via nominations by the Executive Triad issued on the third Wednesday of May these nominees subjected to confirmation of two-thirds of the Senate. Should a nominee be rejected, the Executive Triad within twenty-four hours submits a new nominee for confirmation. The Senate shall have until the end of the third Wednesday of July to confirm or reject the nominees after which the State Supreme Court shall by secret majority vote directly appoint a State Circuit Judge(s) to the currently vacant State Appellate Judgeship(s) for that entire Fourteen-year term. These State Appellate Courts shall be established and may be disestablished by law.
  3. State Appellate Courts shall be inferior to the Supreme Court of the Florida and all Federal courts of jurisdiction. Appellate Judges may at any time be removed from the bench by a vote of no confidence via fourth-fifths of the House of Representatives. In cases of unexpected vacancy due to removal, resignation or death, the Supreme Court shall by secret majority vote fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. State Appellate Judges whether appointed for an entire term or interim term shall become ineligible to reappointment as a State Appellate Judge or as a State Circuit Judge. 

Section 7

  1. All current Florida Supreme Court Justices shall divide themselves into sixteen chairs from most senior to most junior then additions, each chair to serve one sixteen-year term. The first chair shall vacate the bench on the first Wednesday of January of the first year after ratification and each successive chair every year thereafter. The Supreme Court of the Florida shall have sixteen Justices with the most senior chair as Chief Justice.
  2. The process of selecting the new Justice for the Supreme Court shall be via nominations by the Executive Triad issued on the first Wednesday of January this nominee subjected to confirmation of two-thirds of the County Executive Triads Assembled made up of the several County Triads voting in the Senate Chamber as one body with each member having an individual vote. Should a nominee be rejected, the State Executive Triad within twenty-four hours submits a new nominee for confirmation. The County Executive Triads assembled shall have until the end of the first Wednesday of March to confirm or reject the nominee after which the several Appellate Judges of Florida in Conclave shall via secret majority ballot choose from themselves one as a Supreme Court Justice for the entire Sixteen-year term.
  3. The Supreme Court of the Florida shall be inferior to all Federal courts of jurisdiction. A Supreme Court Justice may be removed from the Supreme Court by impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors this be by indictment via three-fourths(75%) of the House of Representatives and Conviction by the Senate by three-fourths(75%) Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend any further than removal from Office, but the person convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishment, as an individual citizen, according to Law.
  4. In cases of unexpected vacancy due to removal, resignation or death; the Conclave of Appellate Judges shall fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. Supreme Court Justices whether appointed for an entire term or interim term shall become ineligible to reappointment as a Supreme Court Justice, State Appellate Judge or as a State Circuit Judge.