Courts in Florida
The state judiciary in Florida is divided into four levels of jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. If questions of law carry over from the lower courts, the Supreme Court will make the final ruling.
The District Courts of Appeal are the intermediate appellate courts. District Courts of Appeal hear cases from Circuit Court or County Court that cannot directly be appealed to the Supreme Court. There are five Districts in Florida.
Florida Circuit Court are trial courts of general jurisdiction. Circuit Court is where felonies, family law, civil cases (over $15,000 disputed), probate issues, juvenile cases, and appeals from County Court are heard. There are 20 judicial circuit courts.
Courts of limited jurisdiction
The County Courts handle such matters as misdemeanors, small claims (under $500 disputed), civil cases (under $15,000 disputed), and traffic violations. There are 67 counties in the state
There are three federal district courts in Florida:
- United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Appeals from these districts go to the Eleventh Circuit.
- Retired Family Court Judge Irene Sullivan learned a lesson in Restorative Justice when she visited a high school north of Chicago, Illinois. What she experienced was a peacemaking circle made up by a group of students and community leaders.
- "Once the harm is acknowledged, the offender and peer jurors discuss how to repair the harm. The offender makes suggestions, guided by the jurors. Of course, a letter of apology. Then, perhaps the offender could come to school early and help the teacher set up the classroom. Or, if he or she is flunking the class, maybe getting some tutoring would make him a more engaged student. A contract is written and if the student performs, no charges are filed." - Irene Sullivan on Circle Peacemaking