OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

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?

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the Governor and subsequently elected to a six-year term by a merit retention statewide vote. 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 five appellate districts must be represented on the court.

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 2019 calendar year, 2,171 cases were added to the Florida Supreme Court docket and 2,098 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 court regulates admission of attorneys to the practice of law and discipline of attorneys admitted to the bar. It also regulates the discipline and removal of judicial officials in Florida. For more information, see the Florida Bar.

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 related organizations of the court (the Florida Bar, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and the Florida Bar Foundation), and national court research and planning agencies. OSCA also administers and provides technical assistance on the operation of many specialized divisions and efforts of county and circuit courts, including Family Courts, Mediation/Arbitration, Drug Courts, Public Guardianship, and Jury Management. 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, include development and execution of the court operational budget.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Dollars Positions
PROGRAM: SUPREME COURT
COURT OPERATIONS - SUPREME COURT
12,115,258
99.00
EXECUTIVE DIRECTION AND SUPPORT SERVICES
28,541,308
194.00
TOTAL
40,656,566
293.00

Updates

Two New Supreme Court Justices. In May 2020, Governor DeSantis appointed Renatha Francis and John Couriel to the Florida Supreme Court. Francis and Couriel replace Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck, who were appointed to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit shortly after joining the Florida Supreme Court.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A Review of Florida Circuit Courts, Report 15-13, December 2015
Review of Florida's Judicial Qualifications Commission, Report 15-12, December 2015

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
The Florida State Courts Annual Reports, Office of the State Courts Administrator.
Short History of Florida State Courts System Processes, Programs, and Initiatives, Office of the State Courts Administrator, 2016.
Florida Courts Technology Commission Yearly Report, Appellate Court Technology Committee, April 2019.
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

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