How the Courts Compare

Florida Supreme Court v. U.S. Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court

  • 7 justices
  • Governor must appoint from a list of nominees chosen by an independent panel with no confirmation required
  • Serve 6-year terms
  • Jurisdiction is limited, can’t pick and choose issues 
  • Sits continuously throughout the year (except for mid-summer recess), no deadline to have opinions issues.
  • Final authority on matters of Florida law
  • 9 justices
  • President can nominate anyone but confirmation by the Senate is required
  • Appointed for life
  • Has broad discretion to hear cases but takes only a very small percentage of appeals filed
  • Begins year in October, ends in June. Hears cases, decides cases by end of its year
  • Final authority on federal constitutional issues

Trial v. Appellate Courts

Trial Courts

Appellate Courts

  • one judge
  • jury
  • lawyers present evidence & witnesses
  • most cases begin in trial courts

See Graphic below

  • more than one judge
  • no jury
  • focus on matters of law
  • do not rehear/retry the case

Federal System v. State System

Federal System

State System

  • U.S. District Courts (Trial court)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals (Appellate Court)
  • U.S. Supreme Court (highest Appellate Court)
  • County & Circuit courts (Trial court)
  • District Courts of Appeal (Appellate Court)
  • Florida Supreme Court (highest Appellate Court)

TV Court v. Real Life Courtrooms

Television Court (“reality” TV court shows drama series)

Real Life Courtrooms

  • Shows are produced for entertainment and are wrapped up in 30 – 60 minutes.
  • “Judges” are paid to act and keep ratings up and can make millions if the show is successful
  • Being rude, disrespectful and condescending in OK 
  • Parties represent themselves and agree beforehand to accept the decision of the mediator – i.e. the “judge”
  • Both parties are paid to be on TV and the TV show pays the losing party for the amount owed
  • Judges must follow courtroom rules and procedures
  • Judges are not paid to act for ratings but to interpret the law 
  • Judges must be fair, impartial and respectful 
  • Judicial salaries are set by the Legislative branch and are far below what TV “judges” make
  • Representing yourself in court is discouraged
  • Trials can vary from hours to months in length depending on the complexity