Supreme Court calls for 88 new judges

first_imgMark D. Killian Managing Editor The Supreme Court has told the legislature that to “ensure the rule of law in Florida is not compromised,” 88 new judgeships need to be created this year.In its annual certification opinion, the court said Florida needs 51 new circuit, 33 new county, and four more appellate jurists.“The goal is to provide an effective and efficient justice system for Florida’s growing population that will ensure and protect the rule of law, the cornerstone of democracy in our state and our nation,” the court said in its per curiam opinion.The court said the key to the operation of the rule of law is the core belief that justice must be timely dispensed to truly be justice. This, in turn, implies a judicial system with sufficient resources to make timeliness possible, the court said. “We also stress that our certification is not a statement of what Florida state courts subjectively want,” the court said. “Rather, it is a statement of what the state courts objectively need to meet their workload, using accepted standards of measurement.”For the circuits, the court certified a need for: • Six additional circuit judges each for the Fifth, 11th, and 17th circuits; • Five additional circuit judges for the Ninth Circuit; • Four additional circuit judges for the 13th Circuit; • Three additional circuit judges each for the First, Sixth, 15th, 19th, and 20th circuits; • Two additional circuit judges each for the Fourth, Seventh, and 10th circuits; and • One additional circuit judge each for the Third, Eighth, and 14th circuits.For the counties, the court asked for: • Six additional county judges for Broward County; • Four additional county judges each for Orange and Hillsborough counties; • Three additional county judges for Palm Beach County; • Two additional judges for Pinellas and Brevard counties; and • One additional county judge each for Columbia, Duval, Lake, Marion, Pasco, Volusia, Dade, Bay, Seminole, Martin, St. Lucie, and Collier counties.At the district court of appeal level, the court requested two new judges for the Second DCA and one each for the Fourth and Fifth DCAs.Last year the Supreme Court called for 56 new judges and got none. Eighteen new judgeships were created two years ago.“Our analysis in past years—and again today—has not only been conservative but has strongly emphasized the need to use less expensive alternatives and to maximize efficiency before seeking more judges,” the court wrote. “We have steadily moved toward court models that rely heavily on alternatives and skilled support staff.”At the trial level, the court said, these efficiencies have included hiring case managers who screen and organize cases to ensure all legal matters are fully in order before they go before a judge, “guaranteeing the most efficient use of judge time.” Other efficiencies include the use of hearing officers and masters to hear matters such as disputes over child support and traffic tickets, and the use of mediation and other cost-saving measures that have reduced the need for certifying even more judges, the court said.“All of these measures ensure that preliminary organizational and ministerial work is done by administrative staff, freeing trial judges to do their essential and unique task — adjudication,” the court said.In the district courts of appeal, these models have included adding staff attorneys to conduct research and to do preliminary screening and analysis of cases, the court said, thus freeing the judges to devote “their important and more costly time to their most crucial duty—deciding appeals.”The court also noted the DCAs’ efforts are highlighted by a voluntary decision by the district court judges to increase their own recommended caseload by 40 percent, in lieu of adding more judges.“We also must acknowledge the very positive efforts of the legislature in responding to the needs of the judicial branch,” the court said. “We understand the competing priorities lawmakers face in every session. Despite these pressures, the legislature still has funded a number of new judgeships at the trial and appellate levels in recent years. It has also responded favorably to requests for additional resources that have greatly improved the efficiency of our courts.”Third Branch of GovernmentFlorida’s courts are nearing an historic crossroad in the months ahead — one that will determine the health and stability of the courts for decades to come, the court said.In 1998, the voters approved Revision 7 to Article V, shifting a greater portion of the costs of trial courts from the counties to the state by July 1 of this year.“There is much at stake for the residents of Florida as we make this shift to unified state funding of the courts,” the court said. “The most significant challenge is to ensure that the rule of law is not compromised in Florida’s communities, and, critically, that the level of services provided in Florida’s 20 judicial circuits not be reduced on July 1, 2004.”The court said “observant and respected groups” like the Florida Council of 100 have expressed concern that Florida’s court system has been under-resourced.“As the legislature assumes greater responsibility for the state’s courts, legislative support in providing adequate judicial resources and operating costs is vital to maintain the existing high quality of justice we have provided, and indeed that our citizens expect and deserve,” the court said. “We are fortunate that the legislature has a history over the last decade of providing many of the resources courts need.”The court said it fully understands the competing funding priorities that confront the legislature, but also recognizes the significant need for adequate funding of the third branch of government in the face of unprecedented growth in the nation’s fourth largest state.The court said backlogs of cases would become inevitable without enough judges to preside over and dispose of cases, and without sufficient operating costs and resources to support them.“In sum, justice itself would be delayed,” the court said, noting that preventing that from happening deserves priority.“If adequate resources are not provided, the courts would be required to shift resources from civil proceedings to criminal matters, thereby unavoidably delaying cases involving mortgage foreclosures, landlord-tenant matters, contract disputes, and other civil concerns that are essential to flourishing business operations and a prosperous economy in this state and to the well-being of its families.”Courts in other states have suffered devastating cuts in recent years, and their experiences demonstrate that inadequate funding can gravely impair court operations, the court said.In New Hampshire, jury trials were suspended for two months in 2002 and for three months in 2003. In Colorado, courthouses were recently forced to close one week per month, and court proceedings in Oregon were suspended one day per week last year.“It is critical that Florida avoid similar harm to its justice system, and the fact that we have avoided problems as serious as these is largely due to the legislature’s efforts,” the court said.Yet, Florida’s budget for the courts has consistently been less than 1 percent of the state’s budget.“In short, while bearing an enormous caseload, Florida’s courts have provided a genuine bargain to the people of Florida,” the court said. “Our judiciary’s continuing tradition of excellence will now depend on whether its current standards continue to be funded. We are confident the legislature will continue to provide these resources.”The court said judicial needs remains high for two primary reasons—the lack of funding for previously certified judgeships and caseload increases.Overall, county court filings, excluding civil traffic infractions, have increased 7 percent from fiscal year 1999-2000 to FY 2001-2002, and are projected to grow at a similar rate for the next few years. Total county civil filings, excluding civil traffic infractions, increased by more than 23 percent from 1999-2000 to 2001-2002 and are projected to increase another 22 percent from 2001-2002 to 2002-2003.“For those courts requesting county judgeships, one of the most significant increases at the county court level from fiscal year 1999-2000 to fiscal year 2001-2002 occurred in civil case filings,” the court said.The court said small claims filings for those courts requesting county judgeships have increased approximately 47 percent from 1999-2000 to 2001-2002, and those small claims are generally filed by unrepresented litigants who are often unfamiliar with court rules and procedures, and thus can require a considerable amount of judge time.Other factors impacting the workload of county courts, the justices said, include large increases in population, the necessity of judges and personnel traveling between branch courthouses in urban counties, the creation of branch courthouses in urban counties, and a lack of traffic infraction hearing officers.“Several circuit court chief judges have expressed concern to this court that judicial workload has been increased by the elimination of court staff in the budget reductions made during the 2003 legislative session,” the court said. “Among the more serious cuts were the elimination of the juvenile alternative sanctions coordinators and five model dependency courts throughout the state.”The court said those juvenile alternative sanctions coordinators were largely responsible for providing judges with effective and efficient alternative sanctions and other disposition techniques in delinquency proceedings. The elimination of all of these case managers and general masters effectively required circuit judges in those circuits to absorb the additional workload, the court said.“Simply put, it is far more cost effective to maintain our existing structure with its efficient utilization of supplemental resources than to either pay for a significantly higher number of judges or, conversely, to suffer the adverse consequences of delay and backlog if new judgeships are not sufficiently funded,” the court said.District Courts of AppealThe court also noted the workload at the DCAs has increased steadily over the last 10 years, yet, the districts have been “measured and modest” in their requests for new judgeships.“They have chosen to employ a variety of less expensive means of addressing increased workload. These have included the development of case management systems, the increased use of senior judge time, the increased use of information technology to assist with legal research, and the expanded use of staff attorneys.”In spite of these efforts, the court said, judicial workload in the districts is becoming too great.“In the face of this workload, the district court of appeal judges have voluntarily agreed to carry even higher caseloads before they seek additional judges on their courts,” the court said. “In 2002, this court directed the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability to conduct an in-depth study of workload and related policy issues for the district courts of appeal. That commission, with the support of district court of appeal judges, has recommended the adoption of a new and substantially increased appellate court workload standard—350 primary assignment case filings per judge. This recommended standard is 100 more than the current standard of 250 case filings per judge as identified in rule 2.035(b)(2), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.”It thus requires appellate judges to shoulder a caseload burden 40 percent greater than before in determining the need for additional judges, the court said.“This new standard further underscores the benefits of cost-saving measures now being used in the courts,” the court said. “The infusion of support staff and other resources over the last decade has enabled the district courts to keep pace with rising workload increases by achieving greater efficiency.”But even under this increased standard, it is apparent that the Second, Fourth, and Fifth districts now require additional judges, the court said. In the district courts of appeal statewide, there was an average of approximately 389 case filings per judge in fiscal year 2002-2003. However, the Fourth and Fifth districts experienced approximately 423 and 420 case filings per judge, respectively, for the same time period. In fiscal year 2002-2003, approximately 430 cases per judge were filed in the Second District, the court said.“Florida’s state courts system is at a critical juncture. Much is at stake,” the court said. “This is a time of great risk and great opportunity. We must take every step to minimize the risk and invoke every measure to ensure that we do not miss the opportunity to maintain a fair and effective justice system worthy of public trust throughout Florida.” Supreme Court calls for 88 new judges January 15, 2004 Managing Editor Regular News Supreme Court calls for 88 new judgeslast_img read more

Van Dijk house hunting after landlord Solskjaer lands Utd job

first_img0Shares0000Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk © AFP/File / Christof StacheLONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 28 – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as the permanent manager of Manchester United is set to leave Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk looking for a new home.Solskjaer has revealed he and his family plan to live in the house he started building 12 years ago after signing a three-year contract as Old Trafford boss. The Norwegian, according to reports, has been renting out the house to Dutch defender Van Dijk, a cornerstone of United’s great rivals, who are battling Manchester City for the Premier League title.“We’ve really enjoyed the last eight years living in Norway,” former United striker Solskjaer said in an interview with MUTV.“It’s going to be a change for them but we’re looking forward to it.“The six months that we agreed on (when initially taking the job on until the end of the season) as a family we agreed to do it separately as there was no need to move them over. That’s gone now. Now we’re moving together.“We built a house, or I started it in 2007, but finally maybe in 2019 we can move into it — that’s long planning.”Solskjaer, who has overseen 14 wins from his 19 games in caretaker charge, put the five-bedroom property on the market after he returned to Norway to manage Molde.But he failed to find a buyer for his house, and reportedly rented it out to Van Dijk, meaning Solskjaer has had to stay at the Lowry Hotel in the city centre.The Lowry was where Solskjaer’s predecessor Jose Mourinho lived during his two-and-a-half years in Manchester before his dismissal in December.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more