Legislature backs creating four new judgeships

The Florida House on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would create four new judgeships in various parts of the state.

The bill (HB 5011), sponsored by Rep. Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, would add one circuit judge in the 9th Judicial Circuit and one circuit judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit.

The 9th Circuit is made up of Orange and Osceola counties, while the 12th Circuit is made up of DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Also, the bill would add county-court judges in Flagler and Citrus counties.

The Florida Supreme Court each year recommends adding or eliminating judgeships across the state.

But the bill differs significantly from a Dec. 28 recommendation in which the Supreme Court said the state needed four additional circuit-court judges — two in the 9th Circuit and one each in the 1st and 14th circuits. The 1st and 14th circuits are in the Panhandle.

The Supreme Court also recommended adding four county judges in Hillsborough County.

In addition to the new judgeships, the bill would allow Supreme Court justices who live outside Tallahassee to have district courts of appeal, county courthouses or other facilities in the state designated as their “official headquarters.”

It also would lead to a process for paying those justices’ expenses when they travel to Tallahassee.

House members voted 108-2 to approve the bill, with Rep. Dotie Joseph, North Miami Democrat, and Rep. Cindy Polo, a Miramar Democrat, opposed. The Senate unanimously passed the bill Wednesday. It is now ready to go to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Originally posted on Florida Politics by News Service of Florida.