South Florida State Court Commercial Trial Attorney, Russell L. Forkey, Esq.
State Court Litigation:
This post is designed to provide basic information relative to the organization of the Florida State circuit court system and the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Most state court systems have their own unique make up and rules, which is not being discussed herein. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice.
Until 1973, the year after I was admitted to practice in Florida, Florida had more different kinds of trial courts than any state except New York. A movement developed in the late 1960s to reform this confusing system. As a result, Florida now has a simple two-tiered trial court system. A temporary exception was the municipal court, which was not abolished until January 1, 1977. Most of these courts in major population areas were abolished on January 1, 1973.
The majority of trials in Florida take place before one judge sitting as judge of the circuit court. The circuit courts are sometimes referred to as courts of general jurisdiction, in recognition of the fact that most criminal and civil cases originate at this level.
The Florida Constitution provides that a circuit court shall be established to serve each judicial circuit established by the Legislature, of which there are twenty. Within each circuit, there may be any number of judges, depending upon the population and caseload of the particular area.
To be eligible for the office of circuit judge, a person must be an elector of a county within the circuit and must have been admitted to the practice of law in the state for the preceding five years.
Circuit court judges are elected by the voters of the circuits in nonpartisan, contested elections against other persons who choose to qualify as candidates for the position. Circuit court judges serve for six-year terms, and they are subject to the same disciplinary standards and procedures as Supreme Court Justices and district court judges.
Circuit courts have general trial jurisdiction over matters not assigned by statute to the county courts and also hear appeals from county court cases. Thus, circuit courts are simultaneously the highest trial courts and the lowest appellate courts in Florida's judicial system.
The trial jurisdiction of circuit courts includes, among other matters, original jurisdiction over civil disputes involving more than $15,000; suits for declaratory judgments that is, to determine the legal rights or responsibilities of parties under the terms of written instruments, laws, or regulations before a dispute arises and leads to litigation; and requests for injunctions to prevent persons or entities from acting in a manner that is asserted to be unlawful.
There are generally two types of claims made in circuit court, common law and/or statutory claims. Over the years, we have handled such claims as:
Common Law Claims:
•· Securities and commodities disputes
•· Disputes between customers and precious metals firms
•· Breach of oral and written contracts, including investment related matters and commercial lease disputes
•· Negligence arising from commercial and investment disputes
•· Breach of fiduciary duties associated with commercial and investment disputes
•· Fraud in the inducement
•· Negligent misrepresentation
•· Negligent supervision
•· Accounts stated
•· Libel, slander and defamation
•· Disputes arising from partnership, stockholder and membership agreements
•· Violations of various provisions of Florida Statute 517, the Florida Investor Protection Act
•· Enforcement of various duties and obligations arising under the Florida Business Corporations Act, Florida Statute 607
•· Violations of the Florida Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Florida Statute 895
•· Violations of the Florida Civil Theft Statute, Chapter 772
•· Declaratory judgment actions pursuant to Florida Statute 86
In addition to the above referenced claims that have been identified, there are obviously many others. Therefore, in interviewing potential counsel, you should make sure that you review with him or her the facts of your case and the varying legal theories that may be available to you.
With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of commercial disputes, including securities law matters, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.