Florida Supreme Court, Amendment 5 (2012)
|Supreme Court Amendment|
|Constitution:||Article V, Article III, and Article IV|
|Referred by:||Florida State Legislature|
|Status:||On the ballot|
The proposed measure is also known as new version of HJR 7111. The original proposal called for splitting the state Supreme Court, however that bill was modified in early April 2011. The current bill proposes that three justices be added to the seven-member court. Additionally, two divisions - civil and criminal - would be created within the high court with five justices each. The governor would be in charge of appointing the chief justices for each division and two would alternate as chief justice of the entire court. Appointees would have to be confirmed by the Senate. The proposed legislation also grants the House access to investigative files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and sets aside at least 2.25 percent of the state's general revenue to fund the judicial branch.
The proposed measure requires 60 percent voter approval for adoption.
Several judicial reform measures were proposed by the legislature in early 2011 for the 2012 statewide ballot. The proposals were developed following the removal of three legislatively-referred measures in 2010 by state courts. Measures removed from the ballot included: Florida Redistricting, Amendment 7, Florida Property Tax Limit, Amendment 3 and Florida Health Care Freedom, Amendment 9.
Judicial reform proposals filed legislators include amendments to judicial qualifications, appointee certification, judicial retention, court rules, release of court records and splitting the Florida Supreme Court into two courts. The list of proposals can be viewed here.
According to the originally filed legislation's text (HJR 7111), the measure would abolish the current Florida Supreme Court and create a Supreme Court of Civil Appeals and Supreme Court of Criminal Appeals. Each of the new supreme courts would have five appointed justices. Three of the most senior justices currently in the Florida Supreme Court would be transferred to the new Supreme Court of Criminal Appeals. The remaining four current justices would be transferred to the new Supreme court of Civil Appeals. The governor would be responsible for appointing three new justices to fill the remaining openings in the courts.
HJR 7111 was later modified to the version that will appear on the statewide ballot. The new text wouldn't split the state's high court.
In late April a Senate committee SJR 2084, a proposal to reduce the vote threshold required for the legislature to enact a law repealing a rule of court. Additionally, it would prohibit the Florida Supreme Court from readopting a rule repealed by the legislature for a prescribed period.
Asked in late November if he would continuing pursuing the split of the Florida Supreme Court (HJR 7111), House Speaker Dean Cannon said "I don't think so, not to the same degree as last session."
The proposed measure, according to reports, is supported by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Civil Justice Chairman Eric Eisnagle said dividing the Florida Supreme Court into two branches would speed the review of both criminal cases and civil litigation. He said, "This bill is intended to bring more efficiency to the high court's ability to address all types of cases."
Path to the ballot
In order to qualify for the November 2012 ballot the proposed amendment requires approval by a minimum of 60% in the both the House and the Senate. On April 15, 2011 the House voted 79-38 in favor of the proposed measure. On May 2, 2011 the Florida Senate voted 28 to 11 to refer amended version of HJR 7111 to the ballot. The House confirmed the bill on May 3, 2011 following a vote of 80-38.
The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:
|Modification||Early Apr. 2011||The original proposal called for splitting the state Supreme Court, however that bill was modified.|
|Vote||Apr. 15, 2011||Florida House of Representatives voted in favor of the measure, 79 to 38.|
|Vote||May 2, 2011||Florida State Senate voted in favor, 28 to 11.|
|Confirmation||May 3, 2011||House confirmed the bill following a vote of 80-38.|
- HJR 7111 (status), (original filed text) and (committee substitute)
- SJR 2084 (status)
- National Center of State Courts - Special 2012 Ballot Proposition Edition (July 27, 2011)
- The Miami Herald,"Lawmakers ask voters to weigh in on abortion, taxes and more issues in 2012," May 11, 2011
- The Herald Tribune,"Legislature passes 7 ballot items for 2012," May 6, 2011
- Associated Press,"Florida legislature passes overhaul of state courts," May 5, 2011
- The Palm Beach Post,"Senate ready to join Cannon in overhauling Supreme Court; do budget talks start now?," April 25, 2011
- Sunshine State News,"Florida House Prepares for Supreme Court Reform Vote," April 15, 2011
- Associated Press,"House debate begins on Fla. courts overhaul plan," April 14, 2011
- The Palm Beach Post,"Cannon’s high court shuffle clears House panel," April 7, 2011
- The Miami Herald,"Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon wants to revamp state Supreme Court," April 5, 2011
- The Ledger,"Move to Reshape Florida's Courts Advances With Backing of House Speaker," March 18, 2011
- Naplesnews.com,"Editorial: GOP strikes back with bills on amendments, high court," April 25, 2011
- The Miami Herald,"Don’t tamper with state’s Supreme Court," April 17, 2011
- FloridaToday.com,"Our views: Crushing the courts (April 3)," April 1, 2011
- Daily Record,"New court reform proposal still draws opposition," April 8, 2011
- St. Petersburg Times,"House Speaker Dean Cannon scales back court reform proposal," April 7, 2011
- Florida House of Representatives,"HJR 7111 full text," retrieved March 29, 2011
- Florida State Senate,"SJR 2084 status," retrieved May 4, 2011
- The Miami Herald,"Senate committee passes Supreme Court overhaul plan," April 25, 2011
- News-Press,"Cannon won't push major new court reforms," November 2, 2011
- The Herald Tribune,"Proposal would split state high court," March 17, 2011
- Florida House of Representatives,"HJR 7111 vote," April 15, 2011
- Associated Press,"Fla. House passes courts overhaul legislation," April 15, 2011
- The Palm Beach Post,"House Ok’s high court overhaul for ballot," April 15, 2011
- Orlando Sentinel,"Florida Senate votes to put changes in state Supreme Court on ballot," May 2, 2011
- The Miami Herald,"Senate passes Supreme Court overhaul — without expansion plan," May 2, 2011