By Robin I. Bresky and Jennifer L. Delgado
The new year began with drastic changes to Florida’s county court appeal procedures and document formats. The primary source of appellate jurisdiction is the Florida Constitution, which specifies that the district courts of appeal have appellate jurisdiction over appeals that are not directly reviewable by the Florida Supreme Court or a circuit court, while circuit courts have appellate jurisdiction as provided by general law. Previously, the general law of Florida statutes provided that appeals from county court orders were heard in the circuit court. Florida was one of only five states with courts of general jurisdiction also hearing appeals.
As of Jan. 1, 2021, appeals from most county court orders will be heard in the district courts of appeal instead of the circuit courts. The change in jurisdiction will affect appeals from county court orders in all criminal cases and most orders in civil cases. Circuit courts will retain appellate jurisdiction for certain kinds of cases such as final administrative orders of local code enforcement boards, voluntarily binding arbitration decisions, civil traffic infractions and approximately 20 other categories specified by general law.