Could Brevard County’s Elected State Attorney, Public Defender, And Clerk Of Court Be From Daytona Or Jacksonville?

By December 14, 2023Blog

Brevard’s court system on the verge of being merged with other counties?  A proposal has suggested that Florida’s judicial circuits be consolidated so that the boundaries of the local courts are the same as the appellate courts.  This would very likely change the way Brevard courts are controlled and may lead to the election of judicial officers who are who are not local.  The idea has been rejected in a recent report but the ultimate decision will be made by the Florida legislature.

Brevard’s Local Courts Fall Under the 18th Judicial Circuit

Our local courts make up the 18th Judicial Circuit which includes Brevard and Seminole Counties.  Our elected 18th Judicial Circuit officers control what happens in our local courts.  State Attorney Phil Archer and  Public Defender Blaise Trettis have offices in Brevard and Seminole Counties.  Brevard Clerk of Court Rachel Sadoff has offices at all of the Brevard County courthouses located in Melbourne, Viera, and Titusville.

Brevard’s Appellate Court Is the Fifth District Court Of Appeals Which Has Different Boundaries

However, Brevard’s appellate court – the judges who oversee appeals – is the Fifth District Court of Appeals which is located in Daytona, Volusia County.  If all the local courts falling under the Fifth District Court of Appeals were to be consolidated, that could mean that our elected judicial officers may not be local.  They could be from any county under the jurisdiction of the Fifth District Court of Appeals – Volusia, Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Putnam, Flagler, Marion, Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, Lake, Seminole, and Brevard.

Proponents Argue Efficiency; Opponents Argue Against Loss of Local Control; Politics May Be At Play

Advocates of the plan assert that consolidation will make the courts more operationally efficient and result in cost savings.  Opponents argue that the plan means a loss of local control and would make access to courts more difficult.  Some argue the plan is political ‘gerrymandering’ because it would dilute the rights of voters in counties with more Democrats by consolidating them with counties that have more Republicans.

Committee Recommends Against Consolidation

On December 1, 202, after months of hearings and deliberations, the committee evaluating the consolidation plan recommended that the Florida Supreme Court not consolidate the local courts.  It added that efficiency can be improved by hiring more courthouse staff and increasing their pay, and through the use of technology.

Florida Legislature Makes Final Decision

But the Florida Legislature has the final say.  The Florida Supreme Court will now review the committee’s report and make a final recommendation to the legislature.  The legislature can either adopt the supreme court’s recommendation or override it with a two-thirds vote from both the Florida House and Senate.

~Jessica J. Travis, Attorney – Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Victim’s Rights, Public Records – Since 1999

This article is not intended to provide legal advice.  Consult an attorney if you need legal advice.