How Well Are Florida's Courts Working?
Every six years the Florida court system assesses everything from public access to court independence and looks for suggestions on ways to improve. That assessment includes six public meetings that start this week where folks can share their compliments, air complaints and recommend changes.
Florida’s judicial system handles more than 4 million cases a year with only about 1,000 judges according to Joanne Snair with the Office of the State Courts administrator.
“So, you can begin to see that the workload is quite tremendous in our state,” Snair said.
The state’s growing, more diverse population increases workloads and pressures on the courts to provide services like certified interpreters. Snair said that’s why they want to hear from the general public and organizations like those who advocate for people with disabilities.
“Because access to justice sometimes is really a very physical issue not just a language issue or having legal representation, although those are all different kinds of access,” Snair said.
The first public meeting on the Future of the Florida Courts is in Orlando Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015 at the Orange County Commission. Court personnel are scheduled to speak from 3 to 5 p.m. with time set aside for the general public from 5 to 7 p.m.
The closest public meeting to the Tampa Bay region is January 21st in Bartow at the Polk County Commission. The other public hearings include:
- Panama City on Feb. 17 at the Bay County Commission Chambers
- Miami on Feb. 23 at the Miami Dade County Commission Chambers
- Jacksonville on Feb. 25 at the Duval County Courthouse
- Lake City on March 2 at the Columbia County Courthouse
“Public meetings are just one way we’re collecting information for our plan,” Snair said. “We also have a number of surveys that are online available statewide for people in the court system, our judges and staff.”
The court system’s final strategic plan will be presented to the Florida Supreme Court justices by December 2015. You can read a copy of the current strategic plan or leave comments on the courts’ website.