Two Significant Changes Coming to Florida Courts on January 1, 2023

What began in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the Florida court system will come to a completion on January 1, 2023, with two significant changes coming to Florida courts.  Here’s what you should know:

On January 1, 2023, the jurisdictional threshold for county courts will increase from $30,000 to $50,000.  See § 34.01(1)(c)3., Fla. Stat. (2022).  This will complete the phased-in changes to county-court jurisdiction enacted by the legislature in 2019.  See ch. 2019-58, § 9, at 14, Laws of Fla.  Since January 1, 2020, the threshold for county-court jurisdiction has been $30,000.  § 34.01(1)(c)2., Fla. Stat. (2022).

In just over 40 years, our county courts have experienced an inflation explosion, seeing their jurisdictional threshold increased from $2,500 to $50,000.  In 1980, the threshold was increased from $2,500 to $5,000.  Ch. 80-165, § 1, at 533, Laws of Fla.  In 1990, the legislature enacted a phased-in change similar to the current scheme, raising the threshold from $5,000 to $10,000 in 1990, and then from $10,000 to $15,000.  Ch. 90-269, § 1, at 1972, Laws of Fla.  The $15,000 amount remained in effect for almost three decades until the recent change in 2019.

And now changes will come as frequently as our U.S. Census.  It is now codified into law that as of July 1, 2030 and every 10 years thereafter, the threshold for county-court jurisdiction “must be adjusted and increased by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index . . . for the preceding 10 calendar years,” but it may not be adjusted lower than $50,000.  § 34.01, Fla. Stat. (2022).  And a head’s up: Don’t look to the statute for the jurisdictional threshold after July 1, 2030.  Future decennial changes will be calculated by the legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research and the Office of the State Courts Administrator, who, jointly, will publish the increase in jurisdictional threshold “on their websites.”  Id.

On January 1, 2023, the Florida Sixth District Court of Appeal will be officially recognized under Florida law.  Florida has not opened a new district court of appeal since 1979.  That will change on January 1, 2023, when the Sixth District Court of Appeal is officially recognized under Florida law.  Shutts has outlined everything you need to know, in great detail, about the new Sixth DCA, including realignment of county/circuit boundaries, judicial vacancies, and other salient information in a prior blog post located here.

Per the session law published in the Laws of Florida, the formal creation of the Sixth DCA, changes to boundaries, and organization of each DCA are not official until January 1, 2023.  See ch. 2022-163, §§ 6–10, 15, at 3–4, 9–10, Laws of Fla. 

Current-Fifth DCA Judge Meredith Sasso (soon-to-be Sixth DCA judge), has been leading a workgroup established by the Florida Supreme Court to ensure the new court is operation by January 1.  The court has a marshal, a clerk of court, and a director of central staff.  Beyond our prior blog post, additional information from the Florida Courts system is available here.

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