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Lawmakers Spar Over Appeals Court Headquarters

Florida's Second District Court of Appeal.
Florida Second District Court of Appeal website

Lawmakers reiterated an old, familiar truism Wednesday: all politics is local.  A squabble over where to base Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal brought out hometown loyalties.

Since the late fifties, Florida’s second district court of appeal has been headquartered in Polk County.  But as its territory has shifted, its population has, too.  Now the bulk of its cases come from Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties to the West.  Second District Judge Morris Silberman says moving the court to Tampa better reflects their caseload.

“The issue in terms of trying to keep the court either in Polk county or looking at some other areas ignores, I think, the reality which is the legal heart of the district as it is currently constituted is in the Tampa area,” Silberman says.

He argues the aging Lakeland facility is no longer large enough and air quality in the building is contributing to health problems among court staff.  Already, eleven of the district’s sixteen judges work out of an annex in Tampa.