Will the 4th Circuit be properly represented on the 1st DCA? Here’s how you can help your fellow JBA members.
By Elizabeth Ferguson • JBA President
There has been much discussion in the past few years about whether the 4th Judicial Circuit is properly represented on Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals.
With two vacancies slated to be filled by Gov. Ron DeSantis by Nov. 2, this issue has come to a head.
The 1st DCA serves 32 counties in North and West Florida from Nassau to Escambia counties. Those 32 counties have about 3.26 million residents.
Only two of the 13 justices (Justices Scott Makar and Harvey Jay), 15%, came from the 4th Circuit.
Is this enough? How can we evaluate this?
Let’s look at demographics and caseload.
The 4th Circuit comprises Clay, Duval and Nassau counties. It has about 1.2 million residents, or 37.8% of the population in the 1st DCA.
The 4th Circuit has more residents than the 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 14th circuits combined. The 1st Circuit is the only one that comes even close to the 4th Circuit in terms of residents, with a population of about 760,000.
Also, according to the 1st DCA online docket, about 33% of the appeals heard by the 1st DCA arise out of the 4th Circuit.
Looking at these numbers, it’s clear the 4th Circuit is wholly underrepresented on the 1st DCA.
What can we as attorneys in the 4th Circuit do to help? Show our candidates some support.
From the pool of 26 applicants, seven were from the 4th Circuit. That pool was narrowed by the 1st DCA Judicial Nominating Commission to nine nominees, of which the 4th Circuit has three representatives: city Assistant General Counsel Gilbert Feltel Jr., Circuit Judge Eric Roberson and Rogers Towers partner Cristine Russell.
All of the 4th Circuit applicants are members of the Jacksonville Bar Association. Show them and the 4th Circuit your support by sending letters on behalf of the applicants to:
Joseph Jacquot, general counsel
State of Florida, Office of General Counsel
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-6536
Elizabeth Ferguson is a shareholder with Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin focusing on construction litigation.