State Courts System

Clerks of Court

What is the purpose of the program?

The clerk of the court acts as clerk of the circuit and county court, as well as recorder of deeds, clerk to the board of county commissioners, accountant and custodian of county funds, and county auditor. Acting in this capacity, the clerk of the court performs checks and balances for local government as an elected public trustee.

What are the responsibilities of the Clerks of Court?

The clerk of court serves many county and court functions. Clerks’ responsibilities include but are not limited to processing all civil and criminal cases, collecting and disbursing intangible taxes, provide accounting services to all departments under the board of county commissioners, handling investments of available county funds, and conducting internal post-audits.

How are the Clerks of Court structured?

Each of Florida's 67 counties has a clerk of court. Each clerk of the circuit court is a constitutional officer elected by residents of their county. In addition to the clerks and their individual offices, there are two entities that support the clerks of court statewide.

The Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation is a statewide public corporation established by law to perform several functions for all 67 clerks of court, including

  • developing and certifying a uniform system of workload measures and applicable workload standards for court-related functions;
  • recommending to the Legislature changes in the amounts of the various court-related fines, fees, service charges, and costs established by law to ensure reasonable and adequate funding of the clerks of the court in the performance of their court-related functions; and

  • approving the proposed budgets submitted by clerks of the court to ensure that the total combined budgets do not exceed the total estimated revenues from fees, service charges, costs, and fines for court-related functions.

The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers is a statewide, nonprofit member association comprised of the Florida Clerks of the Circuit Court and Comptrollers. Its responsibilities include

  • providing local government support services and technical assistance;
  • offering accreditation opportunities; and
  • maintaining the Comprehensive Case Information System, a secured internet portal providing a single point of search for statewide court case information.

How are these activities funded?

All funding for the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts performing court-related functions are provided by filing fees for judicial proceedings and service charges and costs for performing court-related functions.

Updates

Clerk Funding. The 2021 Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-116, Laws of Florida, which made several changes related to the funding of the clerks of court.  These changes included requiring the Clerk of Courts Operations Corporation to establish and maintain a budget reserve of up to 16% of the budget from the previous year. The budget reserve may only be used to offset a current-year deficit caused by a revenue shortfall, provide supplemental funding related to a declared emergency, and provide for a minimum continuation budget when the clerks have projected a deficit. The Clerks of Court Operations Corporation must request a budget amendment from the Governor in order to access the reserve. Additionally, the law provides limitations to the service charges that must be transferred from the clerks to the General Revenue Fund. Specifically, it limits these service charges to those related to performing services related to a court record, such as electronic records, video recordings and stenographic tapes of depositions or other proceedings. A service charge not related to a court record is fully retained by the clerk. The law does not increase or decrease any service charge amounts. Additionally, the law made changes related to monies collectible by a clerk of court, including the specification that fines, costs, service charges, and court costs are due immediately upon assessment. As such, an offender is required to contact the clerk to pay, or set up a payment plan, upon assessment. The Clerks of Court Operations Corporation must create a uniform payment plan form for all clerks to use beginning in January 2022.

Public Records. The 2021 Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-215, Laws of Florida, which made several changes to the disclosure of public records. Florida law allows some individuals, largely current or former government judiciary or law enforcement employees, to redact personal identifying information from public records. The law provides that certain information that was that previously exempt on public records may be disclosed for the purpose of conducting a title search of official records. Official records consist of each instrument that the clerk of courts is required or authorized to record and include documents such as, deeds, leases, bills of sale, agreements, mortgages, notices or claims of lien, and other instruments relating to the ownership, transfer, or encumbrance of or claims against real or personal property or any interest in it. However, this information can only be requested upon the presentation of a sworn affidavit and a photo identification by an authorized title insurer and its affiliates, a title insurance agent, or an attorney in good standing with The Florida Bar. Moreover, for each document requested with a sworn affidavit, the bill requires the requestor to identify the official records book and page number, instrument number, or the clerk’s file number, and to include a description of the lawful purpose and identify the individual or property that is the subject of the search within the sworn affidavit. This law also provides that upon the death of a protected party, any party can request the clerk to release a protected decedent's removed information unless there is a related request on file with the clerk for continued removal of the decedent's information or unless such removal is otherwise prohibited by statute or by court order.

Courts. The 2021 Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-230, Laws of Florida, which makes several changes to statutes governing the state court system. These changes were made to accommodate developments in technology, recognize the effect of inflation on the court system, and reflect the impact COVID-19 has had on the court system. This law update allows for the electronic storage of court records at a remote location, and provides that the clerks of court must prepare a plan to develop a statewide electronic solution that identifies all civil and criminal mandatory financial assessments required by statute. This law also changes the jurisdictional limit for county courts and requires that these limits be adjusted beginning in 2030, and every 10 years afterwards to account for inflation. This law also authorizes a person to postpone jury service for up to 1 year when a public health emergency is declared. Lastly, the law revises criminal statutes that authorize the taking and certification of fingerprints when court proceedings are being conducted remotely, as well as no longer requires fingerprints be taken in open court.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A Review of Home Address Redaction Processes and Real Property Interests, Report 20-06, December 2020
Florida Clerks of Court Study, Report 19-CLERKS, November 2019
Assessment, Collection, and Distribution of Fines and Fees in Criminal Cases, Report 19-14, November 2019

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports

2020 Distribution Schedule of Court-Related Filing Fees, Service Charges, Costs and Fines, Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers.                                                                                                                                                                   

2019 Annual Assessments and Collections Report, Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers.
Clerk of the Circuit Courts Audits, Florida Department of Financial Services.
Study of the Effectiveness of Collections in the Florida Courts, The National Center for State Courts, November 2012.
The Florida Clerk of Courts Operations Corporation provides other clerk-related reports, including historical budget information, on its website.
The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers provides other clerk-related reports on its website.
The Auditor General reports on local government operations are available on its website.

Websites of Interest
Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, Clerk Directory and Websites


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. 28, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Chris Hart IV, Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Association of Court Clerks & Comptrollers, 850-921-0808

Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers

John Dew, Executive Director of the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation, 850-386-2223

Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation