On June 2, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 7027 creating Chapter 2022-163, Laws of Florida, paving the way for a Sixth District Court of Appeal. Governor DeSantis also approved a budget that includes funding for seven additional district courts of appeal judgeships.
While the Third and Fourth District Courts of Appeal will not change, the boundaries will be moved for the other three Districts in order to carve out an area for the new Sixth District Court of Appeal.
Currently, the Second District Court of Appeal is headquartered in Lakeland, with oral arguments and additional operations held in Tampa. However, under the new legislation, the Second District Court of Appeal will be moved to St. Petersburg and the new Sixth District Court of Appeal will be headquartered in Lakeland.
In addition to moving the boundaries of the Districts, the legislation created seven new vacancies. Three of these vacancies are in the newly created Sixth, and four are in the re-drawn Fifth.
Judges will be reassigned to the District Court that corresponds with their place of residence on December 22, 2021.
Judges who live more than 50 miles from the appellate district’s headquarters will be eligible to designate a county courthouse or another appropriate facility in his or her county of residence to serve as an “official headquarters.” These judges will also be able to receive reimbursements for travel expenses when they are visiting the district’s headquarters.
These new assignments are effective January 1, 2023.
In the meantime, the terms of all members of the judicial nominating commissions for the First, Second, and Fifth District Courts of Appeal have been terminated. The Governor will make appointments to these three commissions and to the commission of the new Sixth District Court of Appeal.
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