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Levin College of Law

Florida Case Law

This guide describes the structure of the state courts in Florida and explains how to find, validate, and cite court decisions.

Florida Court System

 

NOTE:  Most appeals from County Courts now go directly to the DCA, not the Circuit Court.  For more information, visit https://www.flcourts.org/Know-Your-Court/.

Florida Court Websites

www.flcourts.org

For general information about the judicial branch of the state of Florida.

Circuit Court
(trial court)
Counties Covered Official Website
1st Judicial Circuit Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton www.firstjudicialcircuit.org
2nd Judicial Circuit

Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty,
Wakulla

www.2ndcircuit.leoncountyfl.gov
3rd Judicial Circuit Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison,
Suwannee, Taylor
www.thirdcircuitfl.org
4th Judicial Circuit Clay, Duval, Nassau www.jud4.org
5th Judicial Circuit Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Sumter www.circuit5.org
6th Judicial Circuit Pasco, Pinellas www.jud6.org
7th Judicial Circuit Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Volusia www.circuit7.org
8th Judicial Circuit Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, Union www.circuit8.org
9th Judicial Circuit Orange, Osceola www.ninthcircuit.org
10th Judicial Circuit Hardee, Highlands, Polk www.jud10.flcourts.org
11th Judicial Circuit Miami-Dade www.jud11.flcourts.org
12th Judicial Circuit DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota www.jud12.flcourts.org
13th Judicial Circuit Hillsborough www.fljud13.org
14th Judicial Circuit Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson,
Washington
www.jud14.flcourts.org
15th Judicial Circuit Palm Beach www.15thcircuit.com
16th Judicial Circuit Monroe www.keyscourts.net
17th Judicial Circuit Broward www.17th.flcourts.org
18th Judicial Circuit Brevard, Seminole www.flcourts18.org
19th Judicial Circuit Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, St. Lucie www.circuit19.org
20th Judicial Circuit Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee ca.cjis20.org/home/main/homepage.asp

 

Each of Florida's 67 counties has its own county court with its own website.  To find a county court website, go to a search engine, such as Google, and type <COUNTY NAME> County Court.  For example, a search for the Alachua County Court leads to the website at alachuacounty.us/depts/clerk/Pages/Clerk.aspx.

 

The Pardo Principle

Decisions of the Florida Supreme Court are binding on all lower courts in the state.  Decisions of a District Court of Appeal are binding on the lower courts (i.e., the Circuit Courts and County Courts) within its jurisdiction.  For example, decisions of the Third District Court of Appeal are binding on the 11th and 16th Circuit Courts and the Monroe and Miami-Dade County Courts.

Normally, decisions of a District Court of Appeal are not binding on lower courts outside of its jurisdiction, but there is a notable exception that has been called "the Pardo principle":

[A] trial court [in Florida] must follow any decision of first impression by any one of Florida’s five district courts of appeal.

- Keith W. Rizzardi, Controlling Jurisdiction and the Duty to Disclose Adverse Authority: Florida's District Courts of Appeal Reign Supreme on Matters of First Impression, 85 Fla. B.J. 46, 46 (2011) (discussing Pardo v. State, 596 So. 2d 665, 667 (Fla. 1992)).