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Legislature Won't Fund New Judges

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The Republican-led, law-and-order Legislature refused to hire 35 new judges requested earlier this year by the Florida Supreme Court. The new hires would have cost just $10 million from a more than $72 billion  budget.

Justices requested 32 county court judges, 16 of them in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough in South Florida. The lower courts hear small claims, traffic cases and misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail.

They requested just three new circuit court judges, two of them in rapidly growing Central Florida. Don Briggs, Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit, says he’s disappointed.

“Two judgeships is the great start and would have helped. The counties and the state are growing at all-time growth levels and frankly we are going to continue to need those assets in the future," he said.

Justices determine the requests using a formula based on the number of cases and their complexity.

*Clarification: The original headline for this story read, "Legislature Won't Hire New Judges". As noted by our readers, the legislature does not hire judges. What is does is allocate dollars to fund them. The headline has been changed to reflect that.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.