2.240. Determination of need for Additional Judges
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to set forth
uniform criteria used by the supreme court in determining
the need for additional judges, except supreme court
justices, and the necessity for decreasing the number of
judges, pursuant to article V, section 9, Florida Constitution.
These criteria form the primary basis for the supreme
of need for additional judges. Unforeseen
developments, however, may have an impact
upon the judiciary resulting in needs which cannot be
foreseen or predicted by statistical projections. The supreme
court, therefore, may also consider any additional
information found by it to be relevant to the process. In
establishing criteria for the need for additional appellate
court judges, substantial reliance has been placed on the
findings and recommendations of the Commission on
District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability.
See In re Report of the Comm’n on Dist. Court of Appeal
Performance and Accountability—Rule of Judicial
Admin. 2.035, 933 So. 2d 1136 (Fla. 2006).
(1) Trial Courts.
(A) Assessment of judicial need at the trial court
level is based primarily upon the application of case
weights to circuit and county court caseload statistics
supplied to the Office of the State Courts Administrator
by the clerks of the circuit courts, pursuant to rule
2.245, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. Such
case weights provide a quantified measure of judicial
time spent on case-related activity, translating judicial
caseloads into judicial workload by factoring in the relative
complexity by case type in the following manner:
(i) The circuit court case weights are applied
to forecasted case filings, which include circuit criminal
(includes felony, drug court, and worthless check
cases), circuit civil (includes matters involving claims
of $15,000.01 and above), family (includes domestic
relations, juvenile dependency, and juvenile delinquency
cases), and probate (includes guardianship,
mental health, and trust cases).
(ii) The county court case weights are applied
to forecasted filings, which include county criminal
(includes misdemeanor, violations of county and municipal
ordinance, worthless check, driving under the
influence, and other criminal traffic cases), and county
civil (includes small claims, matters involving claims
ranging from $5,000.01 to $15,000, landlord-tenant,
and civil traffic infraction cases).
(B) Other factors may be utilized in the determination
of the need for one or more additional judges.
These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
(i) The availability and use of county court
judges in circuit court.
(ii) The availability and use of senior judges
to serve on a particular court.
(iii) The availability and use of magistrates
and hearing officers.
(iv) The extent of use of alternative dispute
(v) The number of jury trials.
(vi) Foreign language interpretations.
(vii) The geographic size of a circuit, including
travel times between courthouses in a particular
(viii) Law enforcement activities in the
court’s jurisdiction, including any substantial commitment
of additional resources for state attorneys, public
defenders, and local law enforcement.
(ix) The availability and use of case-related
support staff and case management policies and practices.
(x) Caseload trends.
(C) The Commission on Trial Court Performance
and Accountability shall review the trial court
workload trends and case weights and consider adjustments
no less than every five years.
(2) District Courts of Appeal.
(A) The criteria for determining the need to certify
the need for increasing or decreasing the number
of judges on a district court of appeal shall include the
(i) workload factors to be considered include:
trends in case filings; trends in changes in case mix;
trends in the backlog of cases ready for assignment and
disposition; trends in the relative weight of cases disposed
on the merits per judge; and changes in statutes,
rules of court, and case law that directly or indirectly
impact judicial workload.
(ii) efficiency factors to be considered include:
a court’s ability to stay current with its caseload, as indicated
by measurements such as trend in clearance rate;
trends in a court’s percentage of cases disposed within
the time standards set forth in the Rules of Judicial
Administration and explanation/
justification for cases
not resolved within the time standards; and a court’s
utilization of resources, case management techniques
and technologies to maximize the efficient adjudication
of cases, research of legal issues, and preparation
and distribution of decisions.
(iii) effectiveness factors to be considered include
the extent to which each judge has adequate time
to: thoroughly research legal issues, review briefs and
memoranda of law, participate in court conferences
on pending cases, hear and dispose of motions, and
prepare correspondence, orders, judgments and opinions;
expedite appropriate cases; prepare written opinions
when warranted; develop, clarify, and maintain
consistency in the law within that district; review all
decisions rendered by the court; perform administrative
duties relating to the court; and participate in the
administration of the justice system through work in
(iv) professionalism factors to be considered
include: the extent to which judges report that they
have time to participate, including teaching, in education
programs designed to increase the competency and
efficiency of the judiciary and justice system as well
as the competency of lawyers; provide guidance and
instruction for the professional development of court
support staff; and participate in appropriate activities
of the legal profession at both the state and local levels
to improve the relationship between the bench and bar,
to enhance lawyer professionalism, and to improve the
administration of justice.
(B) The court will presume that there is a need
for an additional appellate court judgeship in any district
for which a request is made and where the relative
weight of cases disposed on the merits per judge would
have exceeded 280 after application of the proposed
(i) The relative weight of cases disposed on
the merits shall be determined based upon case disposition
statistics supplied to the state courts administrator
by the clerks of the district courts of appeal, multiplied
by the relative case weights established pursuant to
subdivision (b)(2)(B)(ii), and divided by 100.
(ii) The Commission on District Court of Appeal
Performance and Accountability shall review the
workload trends of the district courts of appeal and
consider adjustments in the relative case weights every
(c) Additional Trial Court Workload Factors. Because
summary statistics reflective of the above criteria
do not fully measure judicial workload, the supreme
court will receive and consider, among other things, information
about the time to perform and volume of the
following activities, which also comprise the judicial
workload of a particular jurisdiction:
(1) review appellate court decisions;
(2) research legal issues;
(3) review briefs and memoranda of law;
(4) participate in court conferences on pending cases;
(5) hear and dispose of motions;
(6) prepare correspondence, orders, judgments,
and decisional opinions;
(7) review presentence investigative reports and predispositional
reports in delinquency and dependency cases;
(8) review petitions and motions for post-conviction
(9) perform administrative duties relating to the
(10) participate in meetings with those involved
in the justice system; and
(11) participate in educational programs designed to
increase the competency and efficiency of the judiciary.
(d) Certification Process. The process by which
certification of the need to increase or decrease the
number of judges shall include:
(1) The state courts administrator will distribute a
compilation of summary statistics and projections to each
chief judge at a time designated by the chief justice.
(2) Each chief judge shall submit to the chief justice
a request for any increase or decrease in the number
(A) Trial Courts. Each chief judge will then
consider these criteria, additional workload factors,
and summary statistics, and submit to the chief justice
a request for any increases or decreases under article
V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution that the chief
judge feels are required.
(B) District Courts. Each chief judge will then
consider the criteria of this rule and the summary
statistics; if a new judge is requested, the chief judge
shall prepare a report showing the need for a new judge
based upon the application of the criteria in this rule.
(i) Any request for a new district court judge
shall be submitted to the District Court of Appeal Budget
Commission for review and approval.
(ii) The chief judge of a district court of appeal
shall submit the report showing the need together
with the approval of the District Court of Appeal Budget
Commission to the chief justice.
(3) The chief justice and the state courts administrator
may then visit the chief judge and other representatives
of the court submitting the request as well
as representatives of The Florida Bar and the public
to gather additional information and clarification about
the need in the particular jurisdiction.
(4) The chief justice will submit recommendations
to the supreme court, which will thereafter certify
to the legislature its findings and recommendations
concerning such need.
1983 Adoption. Article V, section 9, of the Florida Constitution
authorizes the establishment, by rule, of uniform criteria for the determination
of the need for additional judges, except supreme court
justices, the necessity for decreasing the number of judges and for
increasing, decreasing, or redefining appellate districts and judicial
circuits. Each year since the adoption of article V in 1972, this court,
pursuant to section 9, has certified its determination of need to the
legislature based upon factors and criteria set forth in our certification
decisions. This rule is intended to set forth criteria and workload
factors previously developed, adopted, and used in this certification
process, as summarized and specifically set forth in In re Certificate
of Judicial Manpower, 428 So. 2d 229 (Fla. 1983); In re Certificate
of Judicial Manpower, 396 So. 2d 172 (Fla. 1981); and In re Certification,
370 So. 2d 365 (Fla. 1979).
2004 Amendment. Subdivision (b)(2) was amended to provide
more specific criteria and workload factors to be used in determining
the need for increasing or decreasing the number of judges on the
District Courts of Appeal. In addition, the caseload level at which
the court will presume that there is a need for an additional appellate
judge has been increased from 250 to 350 filings per judge.
2006 Amendment. Subdivision (a) is amended to be consistent
with the 2006 adoption of rule 2.036 [renumbered as 2.241 in 2006]
relating to the criteria for determining the necessity and for increasing,
decreasing, or redefining appellate districts and judicial circuits,
pursuant to article V, section 9, Florida Constitution. The Court
adopts the Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and
Accountability’s conclusion that a single case filing threshold is insufficient
to capture the intricacies that make up judicial workload in
the district courts. The Commission’s alternative to the 350-filingsper-
judge threshold is a weighted case dispositions per judge, which
the Commission determined to be a meaningful measure of judicial
The relative weighted caseload is determined by surveying a representative
sample of judges on the relative degree of judicial effort
put into each category of cases based upon an agreed typical case
having a value of 100. Each category was assigned a relative weight
number based upon the statewide average of the weight calculated
through the survey. These weights were then applied to each court’s
dispositions on the merits to determine the weighted caseload value
and divided by 100.
This approach accommodates the important distinction between
the number of cases filed and the judicial effort required to dispose of
those cases. While the number of cases continues to increase, trends
in the types of cases filed have dramatically changed the nature of
the work that the district court judges handle. The weighted caseload
approach not only accommodates the differences in types of cases
by measuring their relative workload demands for judges, but it also
accommodates the work performed by legal support staff.
Subdivision (b)(2)(B) establishes a presumption that the relative
weight of cases disposed on the merits should fall below 280 per
judge. Chief judges must consider the impact that the addition of
a judge would have on this measure when applied to their courts’
dispositions on the merits for the previous year.
Every four years the Commission will measure the relative judicial
effort associated with the cases disposed on the merits for the
year immediately preceding. This will be accomplished by asking a
representative sample of judges to approximate the relative weight
of cases in relation to a mid-ranked case. The resulting weights will
then be applied to each court’s dispositions on the merits to determine
the weighted caseload value per judge.