Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

State Courts System

Supreme Court

What is the purpose of the court?

The Florida Supreme Court is part of the State Courts System. It is the highest state court, and therefore the final court for state appeals. The Supreme Court promulgates rules governing the practice and procedure in all Florida courts, regulates the admission and discipline of lawyers, and has the responsibility to discipline and remove judicial officers in Florida.

Who is eligible to be a justice?

The governor appoints new justices from a list of three to six names submitted by a Judicial Nominating Commission. To be eligible for appointment, a person must be a registered voter who resides in Florida and has been admitted to the practice of law in Florida for the preceding 10 years. One justice from each of the appellate districts must be represented on the court.

New justices face their first merit retention vote in the next general election that occurs more than one year after their appointment. If retained, each justice serves a six-year term beginning in early January following the first merit retention election.

How are cases decided?

The Supreme Court is composed of seven justices. Five justices are necessary for a quorum, and four justices must concur for there to be a decision of this court. Thus, the Supreme Court cannot take any action until at least four members agree to the decision and at least five members participate.

What cases does the court hear?

The court conducts mandatory reviews of final orders of lower courts that have imposed the death penalty, district court decisions declaring a state statute or provision of the state constitution invalid, bond validations, and actions of statewide agencies relating to public utilities.

At its discretion, the court may review certain decisions of District Courts of Appeal (DCAs) and matters of law certified to it by DCA and federal appellate courts, and render advisory opinions both to the Attorney General relating to the validity of initiative petitions and the Governor relating to constitutional duties and powers.

How many cases does the court hear?

During the 2021 calendar year, 1,778 cases were added to the Florida Supreme Court docket and 1,901 cases were disposed during the year. Additional information on the Supreme Court filings and dispositions are available in caseload statistics.

What is the court's role in regulating attorneys?

The Florida Constitution gives the court exclusive and ultimate authority to regulates admission of attorneys to the practice of law and discipline of attorneys admitted to the bar. The court performs those official functions through two separate entities: the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, which screens, tests and certifies candidates for admission to the practice, and The Florida Bar, the investigative and prosecutorial authority in the lawyer regulatory process. The Florida Bar also provides continuing education services for attorneys, administers public information programs, advances professionalism through sponsoring conferences, meetings, and publishing legal periodicals, and administers a client protection fund to cover certain financial losses a client might suffer due to misappropriation by a lawyer.

What offices assist with the administrative functions of the court?

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the chief administrative officer of the entire state judicial system. The State Courts Administrator supervises the Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA), which assists in managing the state courts system. Among other duties, OSCA serves the chief justices in carrying out their responsibilities to oversee a uniform case reporting system, assists in preparing the court operating budget, and projects the need for judges and specialized court divisions. OSCA serves as liaison between the court system and the legislative and executive branches, the auxiliary agencies of the court, and national court research and planning agencies. OSCA also assists in the preparation of educational and training materials for the state courts system and related personnel and collects and compiles statistical data related to the operations and functioning of the courts. For a complete delineation of the duties of OSCA, see Rule 2.205(e)(2), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.

In addition to the State Courts Administrator, the Clerk of the Court at the Florida Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court Marshal assist with the operations of the Supreme Court. The Office of the Clerk is responsible for maintaining all case files and tracking the progress of all cases through the Supreme Court. The Marshal oversees the security, custodianship of all property, building, and grounds maintenance, and administration of the building facilities. The Marshal also develops and executes the court operational budget and is responsible for ensuring the execution of all the court's orders throughout the state.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2022-23
Fund Dollars Positions

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
The Florida State Courts Annual Reports, Office of the State Courts Administrator.
Florida Courts Technology Commission Yearly Report, Appellate Court Technology Committee, April 2022.
Voices in the Civil Justice System: Learning from Self-Represented Litigants and Their Trusted Intermediaries, Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, March 2020.
Florida Problem-Solving Courts Report, Office of the State Court Administrator, January, 2021.
Publications, Office of the State Court Administrator.
Statistics, Office of the State Court Administrator.

The Auditor General reports on state courts system operations are available on its website.

Websites of Interest
Florida Rules of Court Procedure
National Center for State Courts
Court Statistics Project

Performance Information

Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Article V, Constitution of the State of Florida, and Ch. 25, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Office of the State Courts Administrator, Supreme Court of Florida, 850-922-5081