Each year the Supreme Court issues its opinion certifying the need for new judges throughout the State of Florida, an annual requirement imposed upon the Court by the state Constitution. This annual opinion sets the presumed number of new judges that could be created in local counties and circuits. However, the legislature has the final say as to whether new judgeships are created and funded. The authorization for this process is contained in Article V, section 9 of the Florida Constitution.
For district courts and trial courts, the determination for need is based on a complex calculation of caseloads. The Supreme Court uses a statistical system for determining caseloads that takes into account the differing amounts of time needed in different kinds of cases. More complex kinds of cases receive greater weight under this system than simpler cases. It is called the "Weighted Caseload System." Thus, the certification is not a statement of what the Supreme Court simply wants, but rather what it has determined is objectively needed using the calculations dictated by the weighted caseload system. More recent developments in the use of this system are discussed in a 2016 Report on the subject.
For an overview of the district courts system, read the Workload Report and the follow up Review of Case Weights Report. Also contained in the Workload Report are the DCA Case Weights.
For the trial courts system overview, read the Executive Summary of the Judicial Resource Study Final Report recommending it be used by the Court. A brief Introduction of how it came to be used in Florida also is available along with the full Report. In addition, the full Report includes the Trial Court Case Weights.
Read the 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001 and 2000 certification opinions. Statistics on Legislative Funding of prior certification requests also are available. The Total Numbers of state judges each year starting in 1972 also are available.